Door County Coffee, A History
It was a beautiful September weekend in 1993 and Vicki and Doug Wilson were in Door County celebrating the birthday of a dear friend.
It was on that trip that she realized just how special Door County was with it’s miles of shoreline, quaint villages, natural areas with County and State Parks. There was a quiet and calm about the beauty that abounds there. Oh, and the people were born and raised Midwest. She thought about how wonderful it would be to raise their family in Door County. If they could only find a way to make a living in this wonderful place.
They thought of hospitality businesses like restaurants or lodging, but there were plenty of top-notch entrepreneurs already serving Door County guests. But they were missing one key ingredient. There was one thing that all the businesses could benefit from and if you haven’t guessed it, that ingredient was a truly gourmet, freshly roasted coffee. That was it! They loved coffee and loved Door County and the brand was born!
Vicki left her career behind and with Doug, got to work learning everything they could about coffee - where it’s grown, how to distinguish quality attributes, the various processes in roasting techniques, and the more they learned the more excited they became. There was a real need for great coffee, and they knew they could bring it to Door County. They trademarked the name, found a location just over the Door County border in Forestville, Wisconsin (population 412 at the time). Their true coffee journey began.
To make it in this crazy world of coffee, they decided they had to be different, better, okay, the best, coffee on the planet.
To that end, they made the decision to roast only Specialty Class 1 Arabica Beans, which are the top 2% of what is grown in the world! That means that 98% of coffee does not meet their high standards. In the early years, they worked tirelessly to create unique flavors, blends and to breathe life into the brand of Door County Coffee. People loved the coffee and they soon outgrew their original 3,000 sq ft. plant in Forestville.
They found land in Carlsville (just 8 miles north of the bridge in Sturgeon Bay) and developed it with that same friend whose birthday they celebrated years earlier. The new facility was 10,000 sq. ft which allowed them to add a Café and Retail Shop, which guests absolutely love. Guests feel like they are “home” when they walk into the shop, smell the aroma of freshly roasted coffee and bakery hot out of the oven! Thanks to loyal fans and a growing list of business clients, they have had five expansions and now have a 40,000 sq ft. facility.
If you ask Vicki, the thing she is most proud of is the incredible people she has had the pleasure of working with over the past 26 years. “There are people who started early on and retired from the business, and many folks celebrating 20 to 25 years. These people grew up in the business and every one of them has made a positive contribution. Oh, and our new people bring so much energy, enthusiasm and ideas! It’s truly our people that make Door County Coffee great!”
Did Vicki’s dream of raising a family and making a living in Door County come true? You bet it has! Doug worked two jobs (his real career as Engineer at Procter & Gamble AND Door County Coffee on nights and weekends) and five years ago retired to join the company full time. She not only raised her two sons here, but they have returned after college to help run the family business. Their oldest son, Doug Jr., is Director of Sales Grocery & Mass Retail and their youngest son, Conrad is their Plant Engineer. Their daughter-in-law, Amanda is HR and Safety Specialist and Vicki’s right-hand woman.
Yes, her dream has come true. Vicki says, “To come to work every day and make a great product people love, and to be surrounded by family and friends – nothing could be better! It will be fun to see the dreams of the next generation unfold!” You can be sure that the tradition of providing impeccable customer service, quick order fulfillment and roasting the best coffee on the planet will always be their hallmark.