Ken Gehlert

Cadillac Coffee Co., Madison Heights

Ken Gehlert - coffeeMuch like the wine business, the coffee industry still lends itself to Old World charm. “There’s still a sense of mystery and romance to coffee because you must test each and every blend,” says Guy T. Gehlert, co-owner of Cadillac Coffee in Madison Heights with his brothers Ken and Dick. Tracing its roots to 1888, the fourth-generation firm is a study in astute tastes. After various coffee blends like Jamaican Blue Mountain arrive from such distant settings as Brazil, Kenya, or Indonesia, the brothers roast and then brew a sample of beans before tasting. The next step, called cupping, is fairly straightforward. “You smell it, sip it, and then spit it” into a spitoon, Guy explains. Once the blends are selected and ordered, the brothers take samples from the final order to ensure taste and quality. “You would think the coffee industry would be completely modernized,” Ken says, “and while we’ve made many advances, a good coffee is all about taste.” With 10 to 12 percent growth year over year, the company distributes around 6 million pounds of coffee annually, as well as flavored syrups, teas, juices, and other offerings. Local customers include Andiamo restaurants, Original House of Pancakes, Papa Joe’s, MotorCity Casino, and numerous hotels and institutions. In addition to its headquarters, the company operates a 45,000-square-foot roasting plant in Fort Wayne, Ind. “The plant allows us to distribute to 10 states primarily in the Midwest,” Guy says. “It’s been a major contributor to our growth.”

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