Mounds View Roasters delivers small batch blends

Mount Horeb coffee roaster
Three Mounds View Roasters
Photo courtesy of Michael Cleary

Michael Cleary, a third grade teacher turned coffee roaster, never planned for his hobby to turn into a full business.

Cleary started collaborating with the late Victor Allen in 2018 through his dad’s company. Allen had sold his coffee company to a brand in Appleton, but continued to work on small roasting projects in Middleton and worked with the father and son duo to sell Italian coffee roasters.

Cleary was hoping to learn how to roast from Allen, but he died from esophageal cancer at the end of 2018, leading Cleary to learn mostly on his own. He bought a roaster in 2019 and started experimenting. “How can you sell a piece of equipment that you don’t really understand or know,” Cleary says.

Mounds View Roasters launched in December 2019 as a small batch coffee roaster. It started bagging and selling the coffee beans in early 2020.

Cleary worked as a third grade teacher for 10 years before launching the business. Before starting Mounds View Roasters, he says he would drink about one cup of coffee a day, not really knowing what was good coffee or what was bad coffee. As he started roasting more and more, Cleary says it became more than a hobby and a big part of his life.

Michael Cleary holding a bag of coffee in front of roaster

Photo courtesy of Michael Cleary

“[Starting a business] can be super scary,” Cleary says. “You feel like you might have a good idea, but you don’t really know if it’s going to take off or if people will love it like you do.”

Mounds View Roasters, which is based in Mount Horeb, has released six coffees since launching. The most popular is medium roast Lakefront Livin’ from Guatemala with notes of chocolate and caramel.

“The reason I love coffee is that it gives you a chance to start your day the right way,” Cleary says. “For someone to know that I put a lot of effort into making sure that the coffee tastes good and it’s roasted well, it’s roasted consistently, I put a lot of pride in that and wanting to make sure that people are starting their day on the right foot.”

Cleary came up with the name based off the view of Blue Mounds he sees from his window. All of the names of the coffees are based on being out in nature or being active. Cabin Fever, a medium/dark roast, came from the feeling we’re all experiencing as we yearn to get out of the house due to the pandemic.

As someone who works with other coffee roasters through the family business, Cleary says most coffee roasters are finding that their grocery sales are up as more people are making coffee from home as opposed to drinking in cafes throughout the pandemic. He’s finding success with individuals eager to support local businesses.

“I want their coffee to be the best part of their day, I want it to be the part that makes them walk out of the house and feel like they can go take on the day,” Cleary says.

Mounds View can be found in-person at a couple small boutiques in the area, including KELLA in Mount Horeb, as well as online.

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