Ferris Coffee

Sharing the experience and story of speciality coffee.

Coffee originates in 15th century Ethiopia when a herder noticed that his goats seemed to dance after eating the beans. People in Yemen got a hold of the beans, roasted them, and discovered a delicious brewed beverage that quickly gained popularity. It has now become one of the most consumed beverages around the world, and found a home in people’s daily routine and hearts in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“We take coffee seriously, but not ourselves.” - Mark VanTongeren, Ferris Coffee & Nut

In 1924, Ferris Coffee & Nut was a newly formed small business in Grand Rapids, Michigan, specializing in selling–you guessed it–coffee and nuts. As you can imagine, there’s been a lot of change at Ferris over the past 92 years. New ownership in 1985 led to new products, their first retail storefront, a new brand and, more recently, a new focus on specialty coffee.

But perhaps what changed the most in the last 82 years was Ferris’ customer.

While their baristas were winning competitions and launching their mobile coffee truck, many of their customers only knew Ferris from their holiday cashew tins and machine made coffee at a local convenience store. You can imagine their confusion at Ferris’ new cafe when they are asked which single origin direct trade roast they would like in their $4 pour over.

There’s more to coffee than beans and water.

Instead of an app, a brand, or a new website, we helped Ferris Coffee & Nut with what they really needed: a true understanding of their customer and a framework for making future product and brand decisions. Through a series of workshops and research, we defined and validated their customers, their experience with Ferris Coffee & Nut and new opportunities to serve their customer.

“Ferris geeks out over coffee at the same level we do beer.” - New Holland Brewing Company

Other Work