"Coffee has been a passion of mine for 40 years." This statement was made by Anita Rose Marcoline, President and CEO of Mill Creek Coffee, located in Erie, PA. Her passion kept her coming back to the office coffee service industry, finally starting her own roasting facility for customer locations. The key to her success in the coffee industry has been in the details, including hiring a great team. Her staff have been a positive force for her business, always there to propel it forward.
From the ground up
Marcoline's first company, The Coffee Mill, was an OCS operation that sold strictly Colombian coffee. The goal was to provide coffee that was premium and also sustainably sourced. Because she wanted to provide such high-quality coffee for her customers, she sourced her product from top notch roasters, with the help of a small group of industry experts and The National Coffee Service Association. In 1989 Marcoline sold The Coffee Mill to pursue other entrepreneurial interests. She founded and operated two cafes in the lobbies of hospitals, until the location had the staff and experience to run the cafes themselves.
More than a decade later, a call came that would nudge Marcoline back into the OCS industry. Would she like to buy her company back? She didn’t hesitate, excited to again take the reins of a company that was now several times larger than the one she had sold. She renamed it Mill Creek Coffee and planned further expansion.
In 2016 Marcoline was able to open up her own small batch roasting facility as part of Mill Creek Coffee. "Roasting is at the core of what I love," she said. She manages the roastery along with her OCS business as well as a storefront at the factory location. Marcoline is proud to say that Mill Creek Coffee is 100 percent woman owned, Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) certified, and reaches across states lines into Ohio and New York.
The key to success
Marcoline is known for paying attention to details. "The details are key to any business and this one is no exception," she said. It took 38 years of hard work in the coffee industry before she started roasting. Marcoline feels all that dedication was worth it, though. She has been successful because of her diligence and never ceasing to chase her dream, but also because of her amazing team. “My husband, JD, and son, Max, are at the heart of this company’s success," she said. "Along with all our long time staff, many of whom have been here since the transition. I hired the right people! They have clearly helped me to achieve my goals."
The people on the front line working in OCS, the ones who are customer facing, introduce their customers to new products. That's something that helps to keep the brand alive and also to keep everyone on the same page – it's a cyclical process. "We hire the friendliest people we can find to deliver and to maintain those relationships," she said. "They are genuinely warm and personable. They really love Mill Creek Coffee, have a good grasp of products we carry and are on the lookout for items in the 'coffee realm' that our customer may be buying from another source."
Marcoline also expressed the importance of a lasting impression. “We clean equipment and exchange pots for all accounts and we put product away for any account that requests it. 'Is there anything else I can do for you?' and 'Thank you for your business' are the parting words everywhere [delivery personnel] go," she said.
Other longtime employees man the phones to receive advance orders. "In doing so, they identify opportunities to add something new to the customer's product line," Marcoline explained. Simply by smiling and having a cheerful attitude when talking, the company's staff creates a positive experience for customers.
One of Marcoline's favorite things about roasting in the 14,000-square-foot Mill Creek Coffee building is the Tasting Room that she created. She invites current and potential customers in to sit around a big beautiful table, taste different coffees and compare them. "For me there is nothing more satisfying than tasting a wonderful coffee from a world away and knowing how it became so," said Marcoline. "I look forward to many more delicious cups and gratifying years at Mill Creek Coffee!"