Forte Coffee Named to 20 Best Places to Work in SWM


When the owner and operator of the fledgling Forte Coffee company of St. Joseph self-identified in early publicity as an avowed “coffee snob,” one could take it as either an effete attitude or, more correctly, as a dedication to perfection that would immediately sweep coffee lovers off of their feet. The latter proved true and staffed with people bearing that same drive for “Hall of Fame” style performance has lead to a unique win even in the company’s inaugural year in business. Ongoing market research for best practices to be shared, empathy for staff, positivity and purpose all add up to a winning combo for Brian Maynard’s freshman enterprise in the Southtown neighborhood of St. Joseph which captured the attention and imagination of the selection committee and placed Forte Coffee into the winner’s circle among the 20 Best Places to Work in Southwest Michigan for 2020. Grab a cup of coffee and read on for more.

What is the name of the business you are nominating?

Forté Coffee

Who are the owner(s) and/or principals in this company?

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Brian Maynard

Business Contact Information

Brian J. Maynard

2045 Niles Rd

St Joseph, MI 49085

How many people work at the company you are nominating?


Tell us the story behind the nominated company. What does it do, and what sets them apart from other companies in the region?

Forté Coffee has my heart, both as a coffee-lover and as an employee. Forté was created in January of last year and already we’ve made a positive impact in the community. We have trash cleanup get-togethers. We sweep the parking lot every day, and we go beyond the perimeter of our storefront. We purchased a Humane Society dip(donation) jar that earns approximately $150 per month. We are currently selling coffee for animal welfare associated with the Australian bush fires; $10 per bag is donated to the Wildlife Victoria fund. We donate our coffee grounds to anyone who wants them, all they have to do is provide a bucket. Brian Maynard is a benevolent overload. He invests in his employees. He invests in people and recognizes the inherent worth of an individual. He takes time to mentor anyone looking for direction or advice. He serves on the advisory counsel for the Women’s Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance. He paid for his employees’ ServeSafe course and certification. He has employee appreciation parties, holiday parties, and achievement celebrations. Brian Maynard makes me feel sincerely valued and appreciated as an employee.

In your own words, why do you think this company deserves to be declared to be one of the 20 Best Places to Work in Michigan’s Great Southwest?

This company deserves to be declared one of the 20 Best Places to Work because it IS one of the 20 Best Places to Work. Forté Coffee is a community within the community. On days I am not scheduled to work, I like to hang out at Forté. I look forward to seeing both customers and co-workers alike.

What makes workers proud to say they work there, and keeps them a part of the team?

Our reputation for quality coffee and knowledgeable baristas makes me proud to work for Forté.

Let’s pretend your writing a review for Yelp! or Trip Advisor. Give us your best recommendation for the nominated company that would make the rest of us wish we worked there, too.

The staff appear to genuinely have fun at work. They clearly love what they do.

What three key words best describe why this company is a Best Places to Work caliber company?

1. Positivity…2. Dedication…3. Purpose

As a Best Places to Work company “Super Hero,” what are the two most magical “Super Powers” this company has on a day-to-day basis? (i.e., Ability to read minds, fly, invisibility, etc) And why?

Super Power One Empathy

Super Power Two Understanding all languages.

Tell us about the leadership of the nominated company and what they do to:

A] Keep spirits and motivation high? Brian has a positive attitude and is empathetic to our needs.

B] Keep innovation and fresh ideas advancing? He constantly visits other coffee shops and brings best practices home; he asks for staff input and takes into consideration any feedback we provide.

C] Keep communications open? He is always available for a conversation. He provides feedback regularly and listens to what we think or have to say.

Explain a specific “wow!” moment in this company’s history that is virtually “Hall of Fame” or “Best Practices” worthy, as an example to other companies in the region.

While it is a challenge to point to a specific time and place. I’d say that the wow happens everyday. The staff know that customers are not an interruption, they are the reason we come to work everyday.

Best Places to Work have a reputation for not only working hard, but also for playing hard. How does the nominated company:

A] Honor or reward success? Regular recognition for a job well done.

B] Socialize as a team? We regularly get together for things like bowling, corn-hole and picking up litter.

C] Get involved in community events? Krasl Art Fair, Ghost Light Theatre, OutCenter, Humane Society and others.

D] Celebrate life? Social gatherings

Write a brief, but compelling, recruitment ad telling people about why they should come and work there, too.

At Forté Coffee we are looking for people who have a lust for coffee. If you love coffee and coffee culture, you’ll love what we’ve created. This is a work place that provides empathy and honor to each other and the work we do.

What one thing is special about your nominated company that most people in the community have no idea actually happens there, but should be shouted from the rooftops because it’s that cool?

We have fun because we work for a guy who respects what we do and who we are. We bring our whole selves to work.

Give us three employee perks or benefits that you think make the company you have nominated worthy of a Best Places to Work trophy?

1. Coffee.

2. Discounts for not just us but for our friends who are with us on a day off.

3. Mentorship and on-going training.

If this is your company and you win, write the best headline ever for your company newsletter describing your successful selection to the list, and be as specific as you can about how you would celebrate the win if money were no object.

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Tell us anything else you want about this company that you suddenly realize we haven’t asked you about, but you’re sure will be the thing that puts you squarely into the winner’s circle! (Wait a minute! Can you put a square in a circle?)

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