Takeaways

1

While Tim Volkema had experience in restaurants and the packaged food industry, he first entered the coffee industry in 2016 when he acquired Schuil Coffee Company, a long-standing, pioneering Michigan roaster and importer.

2

When Tim’s 12-year-old daughter Frankie took an interest in the business, the two of them started the training to become Q graders—to up their coffee game and spend time together.

3

In 2017, Tim also acquired Sparrows Coffee, a high-end, artisanal roasting company, which has since become the home for Joven Coffee, the roasting company Tim founded with Frankie in 2020.

Tim Volkema

CEO & Owner, Shuil Coffee; CEO & Owner, Sparrows Coffee

Expertise: roasting, entrepreneurship, Q grader

Coffee insight: Roasting was only a small piece of the story in each cup of coffee; everything from the soil it’s grown in to the temperature of the water it’s brewed in has a massive impact on the tast

Fun fact: Tim and his daughter Frankie started their own roasting company, Joven Coffee, which focuses on specialty coffees grown by farmers under the age of 35.

Tim Volkema's Top 3: 1.) Chemex 2.) Black Coffee, and 3.) 3-4 cups a day

Tim’s Coffee Origin Story

When Tim Volkema first considered a foray into the coffee industry, he was looking for one key thing. “I liked a couple of things about the industry, but I didn’t necessarily target coffee specifically,” he explains, “When I was looking for my next opportunity, I was thinking about purchasing a business that had no succession plan in place.”

In 2017, he found what he was looking for when he purchased Schuil Coffee Company, a long-standing, family-owned roaster and importer.

Tim’s Current Role

Tim is CEO of Schuil Coffee Company—a full-spectrum importer, roaster, and distributor—and Sparrows Coffee—a high-end specialty coffee roasting company.

What Fuels Tim’s Work

Tim describes himself as steady, pragmatic, and growth oriented, which he believes allows him to home in on what needs to be done while keeping an eye toward developing new initiatives. He says that in making decisions for his businesses, he always has an eye toward the changing wants and needs of their customers.

What Tim Wants Coffee Drinkers to Know

Roasting was only a small piece of the story in each cup of coffee; everything from the soil it’s grown in to the temperature of the water it’s brewed in has a massive impact on the taste. Tim had experience working as a brand manager for Kraft, but learning about coffee showed him how nuanced this product was compared to packaged foods. With packaged foods, he says, “someone opens that package and consumes it or maybe mixes it with water or something straightforward.” But with coffee, “you have to grind it right…, and then you have to have the right ratio, and you have the right water temperature… So much of the end consumer’s experience is not up to you.”

How Tim Cultivates Community through Coffee

Sparrows’ catalog offered another opportunity that Tim embraced—creating a family business. Sparrows has become home to the roasting company he founded with his daughter, Frankie (who became the youngest certified Q grader at 13): Joven Coffee. Joven Coffee focuses on specialty coffees sourced from young farmers as a way to encourage young people to invest in coffee agriculture as a viable economic opportunity.

Where to find him

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