Alumni Partner with SAU to Bring You Cougar Brew

By: Leslee DeRossett

Packaging for SAU Cougar Brew

When Thomas Hess and Margaret Barley met during their freshman COR100 class at Spring Arbor University (SAU), I am sure they didn’t expect in ten years to get married, own a local coffee company, and be collaborating with SAU to create a custom coffee blend specially for the Spring Arbor community.

Thomas and Margaret Hess both graduated from SAU in 2014 as business majors. During their time at SAU, they had many marketing projects where they chose to incorporate their love for coffee. After they graduated, they set out to open a business and in 2016 Fortress Coffee was founded. The Hess’ started Fortress Coffee right in their own home, and since then have moved to a local warehouse.

In 2018 the Hess’ collaborated with family and opened their brick and mortar location of Fortress Cafe in downtown Jackson. For location details check out their webpage.

In order to find the perfect blend for SAU there was a blind taste testing done that included SAU alumni, students, and staff. This group of participants chose an ethically sourced guatemalan roast. This medium roast is sweet and savory with toffee, lemon, and cocoa notes. 

Proceeds from every bag purchased will support student scholarships through the Arbor Fund. The Arbor Fund provides need-based scholarships to SAU students each semester.

There are multiple options when ordering a bag of SAU’s custom brew, Cougar Brew. There is an option to order a half pound bag or a full pound bag. There is also an option to receive your coffee as whole beans or ground.

CLICK HERE for more information on how to order your very own bag of Cougar Brew coffee.

If you would like to learn more about the Hess’ experience at SAU and building a business, you can find it here.

“Here at Fortress Coffee, we like to say that our coffee is good coffee for regular people.”

Margaret Hess