IT ALL BEGAN ON WATER STREET
The original Water Street Coffee Joint opened in February 1993 in Kalamazoo, MI as a one man shop. The success of that Café lead to our very own Roaster, four additional Cafés, the Kitchen, Wholesale partnerships, over 100 employees and more than 1000 happy customers each day. Quality, Creativity, and Community continue to drive Water Street to this day.
Every coffee has a story. Here’s ours.
Water Street Coffee Joint’s humble beginnings date back to Kalamazoo, MI in 1992. At the time, owner Mark Smutek, was working for Heritage Company Architectural Salvage & Supply. He harbored an afinity for historic buildings and an old abandoned gas station on the northwestern edge of town caught his eye. Influenced by a family of entrepreneurs, Mark renovated the building. While continuing to work his day job, Mark spent many long nights and weekends beautifying the space over the next year.
In this unique space, Mark paired his interest in coffee with a desire to bring members of the Kalamazoo community from all walks of life together under one roof. Water Street Coffee Joint opened in February of 1993 and, as Mark had hoped, it became a gathering place for members of the community. The only employee for many months, Mark worked long days, but relished the opportunity to meet the many wonderful and interesting people that call Kalamazoo home.
A passion for fresher, more interesting coffees and a desire to have greater control over the quality and sourcing of the beans, led Mark to attend a roasting course, purchase a Probat L12 roasting machine and begin learning the craft of coffee roasting. In 2001,Water Street Coffee began roasting. Water Street continued to help in the downtown revitalization efforts with the purchase of another abandoned building in disrepair. This location, a former machine shop and cigar factory, resides in the historic Stuart neighborhood, and became the home of Water Street’s roasting operations and business office.
Water Street Coffee now employs over 100 people and serves more than 1000 people daily at five cafe locations.The chefs and cooks at the in-house commissary kitchen provide each coffee shop with made-from-scratch, fresh baked goods, soups, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Menu items are focused on local and in-season ingredients. In 2016 over 200,000 pounds of coffee were roasted, serving both Water Street’s Cafés and over 250 wholesale customers across the Midwest.