From left to right: Reid, Caitlin, Lizzie, and Brent Volk
From left to right: Reid, Caitlin, Lizzie, and Brent Volk

There’s no feeling quite as comforting as a warm cup of coffee in the morning, or an iced latte on a sunny afternoon. While savoring coffee is a daily ritual for many all over the world, Caitlin (Hill) Volk, ’07, has turned her love for a freshly brewed cup into a flourishing family business. For the past year, Inland Roasters has served California’s Central Valley with quality coffee that pays homage to her late father-in-law.

Originally from Portland, Ore., Caitlin always dreamed of living in California. After graduating from high school, she was drawn to Azusa Pacific University for its faith-based values, the school’s overall friendly atmosphere, and the impressive volleyball team, which she was a member of her sophomore year. Caitlin majored in Christian Ministries. Looking back, she considers APU the best Bible education possible, and cherishes the faith development she fostered during her undergraduate years.

Playing on APU’s volleyball team was a highlight of Caitlin’s college experience, as she strengthened bonds with her teammates. Other aspects of her college career that Caitlin reflects on with gratitude include living in the dorms, attending chapel more times than the school’s weekly requirement, and venturing on a mission trip to Japan to serve in youth ministry. “I truly thrived in APU’s environment,” Caitlin said. The theology department offered her the space to form her faith, frequently building upon her beliefs to discover God’s calling for Caitlin’s vocation.

During the summer, Caitlin worked at Camp Hammer in Santa Cruz, where she met her husband, Reid Volk. After graduating in 2007, Caitlin moved to the Santa Cruz area, got married in 2010, and earned an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy. The couple moved to Turlock while pregnant with their first daughter, Cora (age 9), and had their second daughter, Everly (age 7), two years later. 

Caitlin and her husband became immersed in coffee culture, spending time at coffee shops to socialize and study while living in Santa Cruz. Their java options were limited when they moved to Turlock, so after discussing their dreams of starting a business, the Volks set out to make the vision for their passion project a reality. “Even though we didn’t really know anything about how to make coffee at first, we took everything one step at a time and it’s been such a fun journey,” Caitlin said.

Brent Volk (Reid’s brother) and his wife Lizzie were immediately thrilled by the idea and helped form Inland Roasters. The company launched last summer, and all four members continue to contribute their individual talents. Reid is the head roaster, often experimenting with techniques to bring out different notes in the coffee beans, all picked at peak freshness and sourced from countries including Mexico, Guatemala, Kenya, and more. “Every variable can be leveraged in different ways in order to get a different experience,” he said. From the water and mineral content, to tweaking the water’s temperature, Reid loves sharing taste tests with Caitlin as they discover new hints of flavor in each roast.

Lizzie and Caitlin collaborate to market the company, keep track of sales, and reach out to other businesses in town. As stay-at-home moms with chronic health issues, both women are passionate about selling a safe and healthy product, free of the typical chemicals and mold content found in big brand coffee. Inland Roasters uses the Swiss Water® process, an all-natural method, for their decaffeinated roasts. 

The Turlock community quickly fell in love with Inland Roasters, buying their coffee at farmers markets and online. Four restaurants and a coffee shop in the Central Valley serve Inland Roasters’ coffee, offering customers a decadent, fresh drink. Many enjoy their cup without any cream or sugar because the coffee is bursting with flavor on its own.

At the heart of Inland Roasters is the desire all four owners share to honor Reid and Brent’s father, Steve Volk. His passing in 2018 was a difficult season for the Volk family. Each roast is named after a   memory of Steve. For example, the Vallarta Sunset is a reference to the family’s annual vacation to Puerto Vallarta, where Steve’s favorite thing to do on the trip was watch the sunset. 

Through their thriving coffee business, the Volks are a testament to the ways in which pursuing one’s passion is an answer to God’s call. Their dedication to delivering a quality experience to all consumers reflects not only the family’s love for relishing a premium cup of coffee, but for gathering people together in community. 

Reflecting on how APU shaped her into the business woman she is today, Caitlin is grateful for the spiritual formation she has cultivated ever since. “Everything I gained at APU was of the highest caliber, and I’ve held onto it ever since,” she said. Caitlin exercises her God-given talents by collaborating with her family to create something meaningful. More than just great coffee, Inland Roasters serves customers a comforting, sustainable experience.

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