Jonathan Moore is not your stereotypical entrepreneur. Instead of the traditional three-piece suit and briefcase, Moore opts for a T-shirt and apron. Instead of a clean shave and slicked hair, he supports a full red beard and two arm sleeve tattoos.
This Owosso native is one of the owners of Foster Coffee Company, the newest coffee house to open on Saginaw Street. The building’s warm and vibrant atmosphere combats the dreary weather, and while the day’s weather might not have be ideal, the building was packed for their grand opening.
“We are just excited to share our vision with people,” said Moore. That vision?
“To foster community through coffee. We believe coffee is great, and we want to use it as a vehicle to bring together a strong community,” said Moore. “We are here to learn, here to help, and here to build Flint.”
This location is their second, the first being in Moore’s hometown. It was there that he met his future best friend/business partner, Nicholas Pidek, while attending Corunna High School.
“He asked me to be a drummer in his band back in 2000, long time ago,” said Moore.
Their friendship continued post-high school, and their band toured all across the United States. Over a decade later, the duo decided to sell coffee out of a handmade booth at their local farmer’s market during the summer of 2015.
“It started as a hobby, we both had a love and passion for coffee,” said Moore. That fall, they met their future third partner, Jonathan Williams. Williams brought a strong business-oriented mind to the table, which allowed them to open their first store front that winter on the main street of Owosso’s downtown.
“The inspiration came from traveling and seeing all these amazing coffee shops in big cities. I thought to myself, ‘why can’t small towns like Owosso have that?’ so we went for it,” said Moore.
Two years after opening the Owosso location, the opportunity to expand to Flint became available.
“We both have strong ties to this city. Nicholas is a Kettering grad, and I have lots of friends who live here, and it’s where I get all my tattoos,” laughed Moore. “We also had our first show as a high school band at the [Flint] Local 432.”
Upon walking in through the revolving door, the order counter is positioned as the first thing you see in the newly renovated Ferris Wheel Building. To the left is a connected sitting area to enjoy the drinks. Currently, the menu is limited to only drinks, but will not remain that way.
“We aren’t serving food at this location yet, but we have plans to. We already have all the equipment and everything we would need,” said Moore.
The coffee beans used by the shop are either Fair Trade or Direct Trade certified.
“Fair trade is a system in place where an origination makes sure workers are being paid a fair wage based on their economic system. Direct trade is where we buy something directly from the farmer,” said Moore. “We want to make sure we are sourcing great coffee, as well as getting it from an ethical location.”
In addition to being selective about which products they purchase, they also hand-make all of their syrups, chai, and almond milk from scratch.
Foster Coffee Company also puts a lot of thought into the scientific process of coffee making.
“We follow something called the SCAA, which is the Specialty Coffee Association of America. They have spent a lot of time and money creating these standards for what is quality coffee and what isn’t, and we follow all of those,” said Moore. “We use tool in coffee making is a refractometer, which measures the total dissolved solids in the coffee.”
Essentially, the refractor bounces light through the coffee to measure the concentration of coffee particles to the volume of water. The ideal range? 1.15-1.35 TDS, or Total Dissolved Solids, explained Moore.
With coffee houses such as Café Rhema, The Crepe Company, Wild Root Coffee, and Good Beans Café all in Flint, Moore understands why people might wonder about yet another coffee shop.
“We believe in a word called co-opetition. It comes from both cooperation and competition with other businesses,” said Moore. “Many people think of a market share as a pie that everyone wants a slice of, the bigger the better. We say, why not make that pie bigger and let everyone take home a bigger piece?”
Moore believes all of the shops have their strengths and weakness, and that, “we just kind of fit right in.” He also believes that community is more than who walks in the door, it’s also who opens them every morning.
“Flint is a great place, we want to be ingrained in the culture and become a part of the community,” said Moore. “We want to take on the characteristics and spirit of this city, and we can’t do that without the best employees. We know they will eventually take [the] next step in their career, and we need to invest in them, as well. We are always asking [how] we can help them,” said Moore.
As to what the future holds, Moore says he isn’t quite sure.
“I can definitively say we have two brick and mortar stores, but where we go from here, who knows? Maybe we start selling our own roasts, maybe we open ten more locations, maybe we franchise? As long as we are impacting the community, I’ll be happy. We just need to be the best we can be today,” said Moore.