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The Grind – A Year in Review

The Grind Coffee House


Wow. What a year it has been. As we embarked on 2020, excited and hopeful for a successful third year of operations at The Grind Coffee House, the entire world was hit hard with a once-in-a-century pandemic. All at once, our students were no longer able to participate in the work-based learning class and had to continue their education virtually. At that moment, our student employees stepped up to the plate and continued to serve our community in the safest and most efficient way we could.

One of those students was Kelsey Muth. Kelsey started at The Grind in 2019 as she was set to become a freshman at Manistique High School. She has not only served as a Barista, but also as an entrepreneur herself, making hand-made scrunchies and watercolor cards that are sold inside the coffee shop. “Being a part of The Grind has given me a lot of confidence that I didn’t have before, along with teaching me how to be more responsible and independent”, says Kelsey, whose goals include attending college for sustainable business management and opening her own business one day.



Like previous years we knew that the beginning of the year is typically one of our slowest times, so we had anticipated low sales. However, month after month, amid growing restrictions and emergency orders, we found our net profits were non-existent, and often times in the red. By the end of June, our net loss was just under $6,000. This may not seem like much, but as a project under a non-profit organization that means that we would typically not have a lot of extra funds to fall back on, as our purpose each year is to give back as much as we can to our local educators.

However, back in 2018 the Board of Directors that oversee The Grind Coffee House made the decision to retain $10,000 from our first year’s net profits in the event of an emergency or unforeseen expense. It was this vital decision that allowed The Grind to remain open and operating.

Then…July came. And while we had hoped business would start to pick up, we had no idea what we were in for. For six months, from January through June, we were averaging $4,700 in drink sales. Then from July through October, we were averaging over $13,065 in drink sales!

In four months, we gained back what we had lost, and then some.

“We truly didn’t have time to think about whether to feel frustrated at the amount of tourism in the middle of a pandemic, or thankful for it”, says Alycia Kaiser, the Student Education Coordinator who supervises and oversees the daily operations at the coffee shop.

Our student baristas didn’t know what to think either. By this point, all they knew to do was to keep moving forward with a smile on their faces and making the very best of it. The best of it came back tenfold. From July-October, our student baristas made over $7,000 in in tips combined. We believe that speaks volumes to the customer service, efficiency, and work ethic of our hard-working youth. According to our Google Insights, in the last six months we’ve received twenty-seven 4- and 5-star reviews on our Google page, and just in this last quarter we were searched over 15,000 times, and our business page was viewed over 23,600 times.

In the fall of 2020, The Grind determined it was time to hire a student Assistant Manager, and Emmalyn Braun was promoted to this position. In her role, she assists the students in learning to make coffee, use our POS system, excellent customer service, ordering supplies, and social media marketing. Of her experience, Emmalyn says “The Grind is so much more than just a coffee shop to me and to our town. Whether it be meeting new customers or seeing the familiar faces of regular customers, every smile that comes through the door truly makes an impact on me and the business. Being promoted to this position is an incredible opportunity to get hands-on experience as I pursue my future dreams in the business field.”

While there were discussions about applying for assistance, the Board of Directors had, at first, decided it was important that we did not take away much-needed funds from another business in our community. However, we did apply for and were excited to receive a $317 grant from the Schoolcraft County Community Foundation for a new hot water dispenser.

We would like to thank our largest supporter, Limestone Federal Credit Union. Their generosity allows The Grind to give back in a bigger way.  In 2020 they continued to provide the space located at 111 River Street rent free, their Student Education Coordinator, Alycia Kaiser, oversees operations, two of their employees serve on the board of directors, and they continue to provide educational and administrative support to ensure we have a solid foundation. Another large supporter we would like to thank is Jack’s Fresh Market, who has provided The Grind with discounts on all items we purchase through them.

In conclusion The Grind Coffee House made it through 2020, ending the year with a net income of $11,665.93 which, given all that’s happened this year, is only a $1,053.98 difference from our net income in 2019.

We are incredibly proud of how far this little coffee shop has come and thankful for the guidance and support from our Board of Directors, Manistique High School, Limestone Federal Credit Union, and so many more. Looking forward to a bright future ahead!