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Aaron Fekete is bringing a wealth of worldly coffee experience back to his hometown of Cadillac, Michigan, with the launch of Owl Eye Coffee Roasters.
The sole owner of the company, Fekete has been working in coffee since his first barista job at the age of 13. Years later, he spent time abroad in the Mount Elgon region of Uganda, surrounded by coffee farms. There he had the rare opportunity as a small-city Michigander to witness firsthand how coffee was grown, harvested and processed.
Fekete told DCN that the experience ultimately inspired him to pursue a full-time career in coffee. He later moved to Dhaka, Bangladesh, where he worked in roasting, quality assurance and training for North End Coffee Roasters for more than seven years.
Fekete now runs a roasting company of his own, employing a Diedrich IR-12 machine installed in downtown Cadillac. He received his technical certification with Nuova Simonelli, became a vendor for Stagg kettle-maker Fellow Products and outfitted his roasting space to eventually expand into a cafe.
“Our space is designed to showcase coffee in its entirety,” said Fekete. “We want customers to be connected to coffee in their own unique and personal way.”
Owl Eye is also in the process of outfitting a vintage wagon — complete with electricity, cabinet style refrigeration and space to house a sample roaster or other high-voltage gadgets — for mobile coffee service.
While roasting on the Diedrich, Fekete uses Artisan software to track roasts, while also maintaining a thorough manual log.
“I still like to hand-log side-by-side,” Fekete said. “It’s how I first learned, and it also helps me pay more intimate attention compared to hands-off software.”
Owl Eye’s initial coffee offerings include a vast selection of washed, honey and natural-process single-origin coffees, as well as a handful of blends.
Fekete said a contact in Bali allows him to directly source all the Indonesian coffees he roasts. As a flexible, one-person operation, Owl Eye is also delving into private-label roasting for numerous businesses, creating unique blends for each account. Fekete is also offering consulting and equipment maintenance service.
While the full retail cafe is not yet open, visitors to the roastery can currently take Owl Eye drinks to go, including espresso drinks made with a Nuova Simonelli machine, batch brews from a Fetco brewer or manual brews through various pourovers or Aeropress. A variety of cold brews are also available at the shop, and a line of tea-bag-style coffee is also in development, based on experiments Fakete played around with while living in Bangladesh.
There are also plans for Owl Eye’s completed cafe to include a siphon brew bar, as well as a copper Turkish sand coffee brewing system.
“There is no one doing this sort of thing in an hour drive in any direction,” said Fakete. “I fell in love with the coffee culture and its communal aspects, and I want to continue to develop relationships and bring strangers together.”
Owl Eye Coffee Roasters is located at 317 N Mitchell St. in Cadillac, Michigan.
Craig Batory is a writer, marketer, and coffee professional working and
living in Detroit.