Biz Buzz Monday: Maquoketa resident launches specialty coffee business

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from across the tri-state area. In addition to this update from Maquoketa, Iowa, we will share other developments in Tuesday’s edition.

A new Maquoketa business offers roasted coffee beans with a local theme.

Maquoketa resident Christian McLaughlin opened Spelunker Coffee Co. earlier this month. The business sprang from a passion he discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he was furloughed from his job and saw a video on roasting coffee.

“I thought I’d give it a shot, that maybe I could make a business out of this,” McLaughlin said. “I’ve always wanted to start my own business since I was younger, and I love coffee, so it just made sense.”

The business’ name is a nod to Maquoketa Caves State Park, as are the coffee flavors McLaughlin currently offers: a medium roast called “Bedrock Blend,” a dark roast known as “Cave Dweller” and an espresso named “Troglobite.”

He purchases the beans from wholesale coffee growers, then blends, roasts and packages them in his space within Innovate 120, an innovation and co-working center at 120 S. Main St.

Customers can order their roasted coffee beans online and stop in to pick them up or have them shipped anywhere in the country. McLaughlin said he also eventually plans to partner with local businesses to sell the beans in a retail setting.

He hopes his business can fill a “niche market” for specialty roasted coffee and contribute to a period of positive business growth he lately has noticed in Maquoketa.

“Our whole downtown is getting renovated, empty spaces are starting to fill up again, and overall, the town’s improving,” he said, later adding, “This is a big-city sort of concept, a coffee roaster, and it’s feeding into that specialty area for a small town.”

Spelunker Coffee Co. is open for pickup of online orders or for walk-in sales from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as on days when McLaughlin roasts coffee beans, which will be announced on social media.

More information can be found at or the business’ Facebook or Instagram pages.