Detroit – For Miranda Clark, you could say coffee runs in her veins.
Her parents started roasting their own coffee back in the ‘90s. They were in a converted old barn out in New Hampshire, and it was just them, an occasional part-time employee, and their loyal following of coffee drinkers. It was called Black Bear Micro Roastery.
“My dad roasted, and my mom did everything else,” explained Clark.
About 2.5 years ago, Miranda and her husband David Shock decided to take it over. In honor of her father, they changed the name to James Oliver Coffee and moved the roastery to Michigan.
As Shock pointed out, what made Black Bear coffee really unique was the coffee roaster itself. Miranda’s Dad had modified it to roast at a much higher heat, and infused more air into the mix so the beans would be able to brown faster without burning. It created a very smooth, naturally sweet cup of coffee. They also kept her dad’s same method for preserving the coffee beans by keeping them in a giant walk-in refrigerator.
The couple’s goal was to grow the company from their side hustle to their main gig. Miranda worked as a teacher and David worked at a restaurant while they built their business. They had a very loyal mail-order business from Black Bear Micro Roastery, but they really expanded by partnering with local restaurants.
They started roasting coffee for Canelle, The Great Commoner, Sylvan Table, The Highlands, Olin, Honest Johns, Bobcat Bonnie’s, The Peterboro, Wright & Co, and more. They also added more varieties of coffee to their line-up. They like to focus on single origin coffees, that focus more on showcasing the bean than the roast. They do have some blends though, including the classic blend her dad came up with, which they now call the 1995 blend.
Finally, after years of hard work, they were able to open up their own café in Corktown, Detroit. They took over the old Detroit Institute of Bagels spot. While they still plan to serve freshly made bagels, their main focus is coffee. They have a full espresso bar, a pour-over bar, and have several nitro cold brews, and a tea or two on tap. They will also be serving some baked goods from Golden Wheat by Matt Knio.
Now it will be even easier to try a cup of her dad’s coffee. James Oliver Coffee is located at 1236 Michigan Avenue in Detroit.