Brewing Excellence

Unveiling the rich aromas of locally roasted coffee

Over the years, Michigan has made a name for itself in the beverage sector, boasting an ever-growing collection of breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries. But the state is also home to a burgeoning coffee roasting industry that specializes in unique small-batch roasts – two such businesses are Dead River Coffee and Great Northern Roasting Company.

Sip into bliss with Dead River Coffee

Dead River Coffee

Residing in downtown Marquette – a bustling college town in the Upper Peninsula – you’ll find Dead River Coffee. This woman-owned coffee shop encourages community connection while roasting beans on-site to capture the freshest brew possible.

Sloan Dorr has been operating Dead River Coffee for just over two years. After years of involvement with the business, she purchased the coffee shop and roasting establishment in 2021 from original owner Theo McCracken, who opened the popular community gathering spot in 2002. “Dead River has been in business for over 20 years – we were the first coffee roaster to land in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” shared Sloan. “We’ve been doing this for a long time and consider coffee roasting a craft.”

With a focus on freshness and customer experience, Sloan and her team pay close attention to each bean from each region to determine the best taste for optimal enjoyment. “Whenever you buy beans from us, it’s going to be fresh,” said Sloan. “If you seek a damn good cup of coffee, definitely stop by because that’s what we do here.”

Coffee aside, another reason to check out this establishment is its diverse decor and vibe. “The previous owner left trinkets, bells, and guns for decoration on the walls. We play jazz and blues music all day. We roast right in the shop, so at times, it can be loud, but the back room is pretty quiet for a first date or a reading date with yourself. The old guys
play cribbage and work at solving the world’s problems in the afternoon. We are eclectic and the most welcoming place in Marquette,” said Sloan.

Roasting beans is a big part of what Sloan and her team do – there wouldn’t be beans to buy or coffee to sip otherwise. However, Sloan’s community-centric view sees her business in a different light. “The beans we roast are just the vehicle to the community connections we make every day. I enjoy the fact that we are a place of gathering and connection. I love knowing so many people locally and from afar wake up and brew a cup of coffee we created – I’m honored to be a part of so many people’s daily routine.”

To learn more about Dead River Coffee or to make their coffee a part of your daily routine, visit

Discover Great Northern Roasting Company’s rich brews

A little ways off the beaten path, near Silver Lake, is Great Northern Roasting Company, Traverse City’s first direct-trade coffee roaster, owned and operated by Jack Davis, AKA Roaster Jack, who knows a thing or two about coffee.

Bit by the coffee-roaster bug back in 1999, Jack embarked on his mission to create the most unique and electrifying cup of coffee possible. It took a couple of years of experimenting and learning about the roasting process, but in 2001, Jack and his wife Sarah established the Great Northern Roasting Company to share their discoveries with other coffee lovers.

Great Northern Roasting Company is dedicated to producing exceptional extra dark, dark, and light roasts, and each batch of coffee is drum-roasted by hand to ensure freshness, quality, and Jack’s high standards. The roasting facility is busy as it handles various beans from all over the world. It also offers a tasting room for you to try different types of coffee brewed in different ways to discover your new favorite roast and style. Jack is partial to lighter roasts: “The lighter the roast, the more you’ll taste where that coffee was grown and what influences the farmer had over it.”

Aside from the facility and tasting room, there are two additional by-products of Great Northern Roasting Company: Roaster Jack Coffee and Truck Stop Organic Coffee. Eco-friendly, organic, and accessible for all households, these coffee brands can be purchased online or in several grocery stores, making the Great Northern Roasting Company an experience to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home with no travel necessary.

With more than twenty years of coffee roasting experience, Jack hasn’t lost his passion for the work but maintained it thanks to the job’s ever-changing factors: “I always enjoy the variety and requirement to adapt to the coffee because it’s an agricultural product. I can’t do what I do without the coffee farmers – there’s always something new to learn.”

Keeping an open and curious mind enables Jack and the family-owned Great Roasting Company to remain a viable roasting endeavor and a stop worth making on your way through Michigan. To learn more, visit

Travel Tip icon

Tasting Tip
Keep your coffee tasting simple and enjoyable by starting with small sips to appreciate the flavor profile. Pay attention to acidity, bitterness, and any subtle notes that stand out. Experiment with different brews to find what suits your palate best.

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