A sense of community

Appleton’s Acoca Coffee brings people together for a cup of joe

Posted on Dec 27, 2018 :: Small Business Spotlight
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

With a background in mechanical engineering, running a coffee shop probably isn’t the job you’d expect Bill Wetzel, owner of Acoca Coffee, to have. But, for him, it’s the most natural fit.

“I’ve always enjoyed cooking,” he says. “Being in the kitchen was always a very enjoyable, natural and wonderfully comforting feeling for me.”

After relocating to Northeast Wisconsin from Pennsylvania in 2000, Wetzel and his wife frequented Acoca Coffee, a quaint coffee shop owned and operated by a young couple in downtown Appleton.

Several years later, the couple approached Wetzel and his wife to see if they’d like to purchase the shop. Wetzel, with his enduring passion for food and hospitality, says his interest was piqued. But he knew it wasn’t the right time to step away from his career. Instead, the Wetzels offered to silently invest in the business in 2007.

As the years went on, Wetzel felt the itch to step away from corporate America and pursue his dream. Finally, in 2015, he and his wife purchased Acoca Coffee. Wetzel retired from his job in 2016 and has since funneled his time and energy into the coffee shop. 

“For me, it was very cathartic to get into this and get back to what is more meaningful and heartwarming to me,” Wetzel says.

Acoca Coffee, which celebrated its 21st anniversary this past November, has roasted green coffee beans for decades using a small roaster that handles about 10 pounds per batch. The shop also offers a variety of food items, such as premium ice creams, cookies, granola, soups and salads. Wetzel would like to grow the shop’s food offerings.

While Wetzel sees plenty of opportunities on the horizon, he also never loses sight of just how lucky he is to pursue and share his passion each and every day.

“The camaraderie and fellowship that’s enjoyed during a meal is something I hope we all get to experience,” he says. “It could be through food, a cup of coffee or some fun conversation. But, really, my goal is just to make sure people leave our spot in a little more positive place than when they first came in.”