FLOW’s Partnership with Madcap Coffee “Addresses Planet and Community Right Here at Home”


This week Grand Rapids-based Madcap Coffee Company announced its initial membership in 1% for the Planet and the company’s intent to donate 1% of annual sales to support nonprofit organizations focused on the environment, climate change, and water conservation.

To celebrate its 1% membership and highlight its retail expansion into Northwest Michigan’s Leelanau County, Madcap Coffee is partnering with FLOW to launch its seasonal Lake Effect winter coffee blend and a supporting merchandise collection. Ten percent of sales of Lake Effect coffee and merchandise online and in Madcap’s cafés in Detroit and Grand Rapids will directly benefit FLOW and our mission to ensure the waters of the Great Lakes Basin are healthy, public, and protected for all.

“As a specialty coffee company operating with both local and national reach, issues like the environment, climate change, and water quality are front of mind at Madcap,” said Madcap Coffee founder and co-CEO Trevor Corlett.

FLOW spoke with Josh Weichhand, Madcap Coffee’s vice president for marketing and growth strategies, about the company’s environmental message and support for FLOW.

Tell us about Madcap Coffee’s inspiration to highlight water conservation and quality. Why is protecting our water important to Madcap’s business and brand?

Madcap joined 1% for the Planet this January and as new members we wanted to use our first giving project to highlight something close to home and our hearts. Living and working so close to the Great Lakes, it’s easy to take fresh water for granted. We turn on our taps, we drive to the beach, and it feels like it’s always there for us. But we know it’s not that simple: as a specialty coffee company that operates both locally and globally, we see first-hand just how critical our freshwater resources are to our communities and our industry. We all tend to understand that access to water is important for the farmer in developing nations, but then here at home we witness lead poisoning, oil spills, and a general disregard for this life-giving resource. You can’t grow or brew great coffee without water. This partnership is meant to reinforce that point and educate our consumers in the process.

What led you to FLOW? How does our work resonate with Madcap?

We first became familiar with FLOW from Colin McCarthy’s documentary, “Great Lakes, Bad Lines,” which highlights the dangerous state of the Line 5 Pipeline running through Wisconsin, Michigan, and Canada and across the Straits of Mackinac. We at Madcap were impressed with the campaigns FLOW has organized and the progress you’ve made highlighting the Great Lakes as part of the public trust. We’ve been on our own journey to improve our sustainability and codify our design for good mentality into a corporate social responsibility program. Planet, Producers, and Community: those are our Corporate Social Responsibility pillars and an organization like FLOW allows for a partnership that directly addresses Planet and Community right here at home.

Tell us about Madcap Coffee’s expansion into Leland. How did this come about, and what’s behind your excitement for a presence on the Leelanau Peninsula?

Madcap has actually had a presence on the peninsula since 2014, when we first began supplying Blue Boat Coffee in Leland as their exclusive coffee provider. We’ve always loved the region with its incredible agriculture, natural resources, wine, and access to the lakeshore, so Madcap had always kept an eye on our accounts for potential expansion into the region. In 2021, Blue Boat Coffee approached us about taking over their business in Leland, right across the street from Historic Fishtown, and we are now in the process of expanding the space as a full Madcap café. Everyone who lives and works in Leelanau seems to have this deep connection to the land and water, just like our global network of coffee producers. Our hope in expanding into the region is that Madcap can contribute to this agriculture-loving region and find our natural place alongside great farm-to-table restaurants and wineries, while highlighting the richness of the region in the process.

Tell us about the Lake Effect collection of products, and collaboration with designer Geoff Holstad.

Our Lake Effect coffee blend has always been a fan-favorite and something our customers look forward to every winter. Our founder Trevor Corlett actually used to compete in national barista competitions with this particular blend—a delicious combination of single origin African coffees. Lake Effect was traditionally a bright, vibrant coffee release designed to liven up what is usually a colder, quieter moment on our calendar. This is the first year where we’ve expanded the concept of Lake Effect into a collection, with the “Effect” being a desire to raise awareness and funds for a cause we believe in. That’s where Geoff Holstad comes in. He’s an incredibly talented designer with roots in Michigan, he’s built a really impressive platform designing for nonprofits, and he regularly puts his art to work on behalf of the environment.

When we were first brainstorming the collection, we knew Geoff had worked with FLOW in the past—he actually contributed some of the artwork to the design of the “Great Lakes, Bad Lines” film, too—and we began to connect the dots from there. Lake Effect, Leelanau, freshwater, FLOW—it came together pretty naturally and immediately made sense. The full collection includes graphic tees, sweatshirts, hats, and beanies that feature original artwork Geoff designed for Lake Effect. We also included a 12 oz travel coffee tumbler and a 32 oz water bottle from MiiR—another 1% for the Planet member and “design for good” company–so that our collection could have extra impact.

You can find the full collection of Lake Effect gear and coffee at madcapcoffee.com. Ten percent of sales of Lake Effect coffee and merchandise online and in Madcap’s cafés in Detroit and Grand Rapids will directly benefit FLOW.

2 comments on “FLOW’s Partnership with Madcap Coffee “Addresses Planet and Community Right Here at Home”

    • FLOW Editor on

      Hello Charlie,

      Thank you for your interest and concerns about the sustainability and ethical practices of our new partner Madcap Coffee.

      To better address your questions about the coffee and campaign, we reached out to our partners at Madcap Coffee to provide more details. When choosing producers and farms to work with, Madcap Coffee evaluates both the quality of the coffee and their alignment with the producers they choose to work with. Madcap partners primarily with smaller producers that use non detrimental techniques, and they don’t limit their scope to producers with certification such as shade grown, because it can be costly and inaccessible for smaller producers who still grow coffee ethically.

      The Lake Effect blend used in Madcap’s 1% for the Planet campaign with FLOW is composed of 70% Raro Nansebo from Ethiopia, and 30% Gasharu Washed (Mothers Crown Rugori) from Rwanda, with the latter representing a female-majority workforce. Madcap shared that “most coffee farms in Ethiopia use holistic practices to safely grow their crops. Raro Nansebo from Ethiopia, the component that makes up 70% of Lake Effect, is naturally processed as well. This means that the producer leaves the coffee cherry around the coffee bean while drying them, instead of using water to wash the bean of the mucilage of the fruit as they do with a washed process coffee. Not only does this reduce water waste, it provides an exciting, fruitier profile for the coffee as well.”

      We hope this answers your questions, and we welcome critical thinking and transparency in our work.

      – The FLOW Team

      Reply

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