COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - Jacques Fourie (left) and his wife Wendy (right) are the owners of Deadlift Coffee, which opened its first storefront at the corner of U.S. 131 and Hoffman Road in Three Rivers Saturday.

Locally-owned Deadlift Coffee celebrates first storefront

THREE RIVERS — This past Saturday, Oct. 1, is known as International Coffee Day in many countries, including the United States.

How fitting it is, then, that the newest locally-owned coffee shop in the Three Rivers area held a grand opening celebration for its first-ever building on just that date.

Deadlift Coffee opened the doors to its first storefront Saturday, at the southwest corner of U.S. 131 and Hoffman Road in Three Rivers. The grand opening brought in hundreds of people throughout the day, whether it was in the store sitting at one of the tables or in front of the electric fireplace in the corner, or going through the store’s drive thru area around the outside of the building.

“It’s fantastic,” Deadlift Coffee owner Jacques Fourie said of the turnout for their opening day. “Even our soft opening was crazy; every day’s been crazy, but we’ve been so blessed by the support from the community and everybody that stops by. This has grown beyond our expectations.”

The new shop offers a variety of drinks, from their house blend coffee, made from a secret combination of three different types of beans from different countries, to other drinks such as frappes, smoothies, chai tea, ice tea, and hot tea. They also offer some food as well, such as breakfast sandwiches, donuts and muffins. All the coffee is roasted in-house.

Fourie said their house blend coffee took a long time to create and perfect: a medium-to-dark coffee with a slight “milk chocolate” aftertaste. He said the blend was created to be something he and their customers would enjoy drinking.

“We try to stick to one taste note, and we've had a lot of people come and say they can't drink coffee at all because of the acidity, so when I recommended to try ours, they come back and buy more and more, and now they can drink it and enjoy coffee like everyone else,” Fourie said.

Fourie, a South Africa native and local resident in the Three Rivers area, said his passion for coffee started back in his native land, where he learned about the coffee business from a friend of his.

“There's pretty much a coffee shop on every corner in South Africa, and we've always visited coffee shops all around. A friend of mine got a big coffee shop with a roastery inside the shop, and I started learning from him every day,” Fourie said. “One day, I said I want to do this myself one day, and they said, come on in. I spent three months there, every day learning the tricks of the trade of roasting coffee, and that's how it started.”

After coming to the United States, he started Deadlift Coffee with mobile coffee shops set up around the area at different locations during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said starting the company’s growth during the pandemic was slow, but “a blessing.”

“It was very slow, but a blessing for us climbing the ladder slowly instead of diving in straight to something we didn’t know all what was going to happen,” Fourie said. “Everybody could go through the drive thru; although we had seating in the mobile unit, the drive-thru was a good learning curve for us.”

Fourie said he had always wanted to open his own coffee shop, and that starting with the mobile shop gave his business the opportunity to “evolve” into having a coffee shop now.

“My main goal was for something that my wife Wendy and I could enjoy together, and have this as a retirement business, just laid back, run the coffee shop,” Fourie said.

Finding a spot to put a brick-and-mortar business, however, was a bit tricky. Fourie said he took a chance on the property on the corner of U.S. 131 and Hoffman Road, which he said had been vacant for over 40 years. Several months ago, Fourie got their site plan approved by Fabius Township, and got to work. He called the experience to get everything approved a “roller coaster,” but said he was appreciative of the help the different agencies involved gave him throughout the process.

Fourie said customers to the shop can expect a relaxed and friendly environment if they come to visit.

“We're trying to create something that'll draw everybody not just for an outing, but for something to do. We try to create a good feel for people to come and enjoy,” Fourie said. “We're not a franchise, we're a mom-and-pop store. We try and interact with everybody the same every time. I don't want people to come up to the drive thru and get, 'well, what do you want?' We try to create a relationship with everybody that comes in the store.”

In the future, Fourie said he hopes to offer people a chance to smell-test and taste-test a weekly rotation of different coffee beans and give them the option to make coffee from them, as well as offering a small farmer’s market next year to draw in more families. Business-wise, however, he said he isn’t in a hurry to make his company bigger than it is now.

“There are so many options and so many things we can do, but like I said, we wanted this as a mom-and-pop store, we don't want to be overly big like all the franchises and go to the extreme for somebody to come and buy a cup of coffee,” Fourie said. “We want to interact with people and enjoy ourselves. We want this to be a local hangout for people to come and enjoy coffee.”

Deadlift Coffee is open Mondays through Fridays from 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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