Beyond the Label with Dave Marsalek of Big Shoulders Coffee

Join us as we go beyond the label with food brands that we love at Martie. Today, we chat with Dave Marsalek, Director of Sales with Big Shoulders Coffee, a craft roaster based in Chicago. This partnership is extra special because Big Shoulders and Martie teamed up to save 3,750lbs of perfectly delicious coffee beans from going to waste. The result is two coffee roasts, available to you, at an amazing discount.

Grab your Big Shoulders Coffee, roasted exclusively for Martie, and read more about how this partnership came to be!

Dave Marsalek of Big Shoulders Coffee


Hi Dave! What's the motivation behind Big Shoulders Coffee?

Big Shoulders Coffee began as an extension of founders Tim and Patricia Coonan’s love for the coffee world. In the 2000s, Tim was roasting beans in his garage and delivering coffee by bike around Chicago’s west side, but after Tim left the Chef world (he and Patricia met during their time at world-renowned Spiaggia, where Tim was the Chef-de-Cuisine), and they started a family, they decided to reinvigorate their passion for coffee. They chose a high traffic corner in West Town which links the El subway, major bus lines, bikers and heavy commuters.

The business is built upon the ethos of actually recognizing customers when they walk in the door. Big Shoulders offers a great cup of coffee, thoughtfully sourced and roasted, at a value-driven price. This aesthetics of customer and people first has done us well. 10 years in as a business, we stand at 5 cafes in Chicago, an expanding Wholesale presence in the Midwest and beyond. 


How did the partnership with Martie come to be?

Through the thick of the pandemic, Big Shoulders Coffee made a commitment to several containers of coffee that were purchased for use with a large Chicago-based restaurant partner. Unfortunately that business went under and we were left with a large quantity of both Colombia and Guatemala green coffee, in our warehouse. Thankfully, coffee beans don’t go bad, but unlike wine or bourbon, it doesn't get better with time. By partnering with Martie, and roasting these beans exclusively for Martie shoppers, we are able to ensure these beans get a second chance. This partnership will save 3,750 lbs of coffee beans from going to waste. 


Is there such a thing as a “best by” date for coffee?

Yes there is! We recommend a use by date within 1 year from the roast. You will see that BEST BY date on the bottom of each bag of Colombia and Guatemala. Coffee’s innate profile and vibrant sugars and acidity fade over time and get affected by oxygen, heat, moisture and humidity, so it’s important to follow the date that you find on your coffee bean bag. The coffee is still safe to consume after this best-by date, we just want to make sure you have the best experience possible, drinking Big Shoulders Coffee.


What’s in the pipeline next for Big Shoulders?

A: Once we get through these containers of Colombia and Guatemala, we’re all hoping to take a coffee vacation somewhere tropical and visit coffee farms, in say Mexico or Costa Rica. Company-wise, we’re becoming a certified “Woman-owned business” with our CEO and co-founder Patricia Coonan taking the reins. Super exciting! We’re also hoping to run with our Organic Warehouse Certification and add to our Fair Trade Organic Honduras lot. 

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