Much like the coffee we drink every day has gone on a journey before arriving in our mugs, lifelong Stark County residents Mark and Michelle Kemp have also taken quite a journey in creating their dream coffee business. Today, Tremont Coffee Company is not only a reality for them, but the Massillon-based business continues to grow before their very eyes.
“Tremont was started from very humble beginnings and big dreams,” says Mark, who founded the company with his wife and daughter in 2016. “It’s been a truly amazing and satisfying adventure for us.”
The Kemps launched Tremont Coffee as a small pop-up booth at The Valentine Flea in the basement of The Auricle Venue & Bar in Canton. That turned into weekly flea market appearances in Canton and 720 Markets in North Canton. Eventually, they grew to a pop-up tent, then a coffee trailer, and by 2018 they opened their first brick-and-mortar store in Massillon.
“That first 12 to 18 months were really unbelievable because we were able to build a cult-like following with some of our most hard-core Tremont lovers, even to this day,” recalls Mark. “I think what drew them in was our fun, party-like environment that just happens to sell great coffee at the same time.”
Now, the Kemps – and a growing team of around 50 employees – operate the Erie St. Roastery in Massillon, a Perry Township location on Tuscarawas Street, and their newest shop in North Canton that opened in May. The Roastery is a unique facility as a working warehouse with a cafe. It serves as the base of the operations, where staff roasts coffee beans, bakes pastries, packages supplies to send to the other shops, unpacks inventory, and more.
Each location crafts “ridiculously delicious” coffee drinks, and offers gluten-friendly muffins baked from scratch. They also stock a variety of tea and merchandise. At the Roastery, patrons also can order a breakfast sandwich, cinnamon and sugar french toast sticks, and avocado toast.
The top-selling drink, Morning Moonshine, is a triple-shot vanilla and caramel latte with whipped cream and drizzle for $5.55. It’s available with Nitro Cold Brew for those who prefer the iced route. This coffee-reliant writer absolutely tested the hype and indulged in a latte while crafting this article (she recommends you get one, too).
Tremont’s Brewed House Coffee, Erie Street Blend, is a medium-roast blend of beans from Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia. They offer five fall drink options, including a pumpkin version of the Morning Moonshine and a new s’mores hot, iced or frozen drink. The winter drink lineup starts November 1.
While Tremont’s practice of roasting premium specialty-grade coffee beans on site guarantees freshness, it may also be part of what’s attracted various churches, restaurants, gyms, and even other high-end coffee shops in the area to inquire for bulk pricing. The company’s wholesale program provides two price points – one for nonprofits, and the other for businesses – and offers many products available for wholesale distribution.
But the growth and wholesale efforts are just the beginning for Tremont, as they continue work on a Franchise Development Center in Massillon. Mark says they’ve built Tremont from the ground up and develop processes for training, operational procedures, cost controls, and others that would lend themselves toward franchising. He recognizes that all of these things have definitely been a factor in Tremont’s success.
“When we started Tremont we weren’t rich, and I’m definitely not the smartest person in the world,” says Mark. “I just wanted a family business that we could run with integrity and have some positive impact on our community.”
The new facility will provide additional formal training areas for franchisees to learn the coffee business from the inside. “There is no better feeling than to be able to share our adventure with other families, and that’s the ultimate goal for us now,” says Mark.
It’s a fitting sentiment as family is what inspired the venture in the first place. Many people think the name is a nod to the Tremont neighborhood in Cleveland. Actually, it comes from Tremont Avenue in Massillon where both of Mark’s parents grew up.
“The business name is a way to pay tribute to my family and my hardworking blue-collar upbringing,” says Mark. “That street helped shape me into the man I am today and I never want to forget that.”
To order online or inquire about wholesale products, visit TremontCoffee.com.