Exploring Brian Jackson’s Mighty Missouri Coffee Co.

10 mins read

Serving a Decade of Quality Conversation, Community, and Caffeine

As the CEO, president, and founder of Mighty Missouri Coffee Company in Bismarck, Brian Jackson has always been a creative at heart. With a knack for marketing and communications throughout his life, Jackson had an interest in pursuing a new journey altogether in the fall of 2012. While the beginning of Jackson’s Mighty Missouri journey was a bit rocky, the entrepreneur has found his footing and grown a dedicated team with a thriving culture. Since those early days, Mighty Missouri Coffee Co. has been “a journey of faith” for Jackson, with the brand being at the heart of the mission. 10 years removed from the Mighty Missouri’s inception, they’ve recently expanded to a second location within the Kirkwood Mall. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jackson to discuss the early days of Mighty Missouri, his “big break” in Bismarck’s business landscape, and much more. 

Brian Jackson

CEO & Founder of Mighty Missouri Coffee Co.

Mighty Missouri Coffee Co. is conveniently located in two places: inside the Missouri Valley Family YMCA and at the Kirkwood Mall, both situated in Bismarck.

While in his previous marketing role, Jackson had initial ideas for a new business venture but wasn’t exactly sure of the direction that he would take. “I was building a brand called ‘Mighty Missouri *blank* Company,’ to create something and exercise those creative muscles. I didn’t know what it would be just yet, but I knew that was the name that I was bringing with me,” Jackson said. As he was looking at potential business ventures, he started to get into the world of coffee.

“The more I learned about coffee, the more I was interested in it. I took small steps into that world, thinking it may just be an ‘after 5 p.m.’ job selling some coffee to my friends and just trying something fun. I was only 24 years old at the time, so I had that young confidence to take a small initial step, which turned into bigger and bigger steps,” Jackson said.

Pretty soon, Jackson realized that he had to take a leap of faith and fully pursue Mighty Missouri before the chance passed him by. Taking his first crack at the entrepreneurial adventure, Jackson developed a business plan that he looks back on with humor.

“When I was first starting Mighty Missouri, I had this business plan that would be a laughable document today, if I’m being honest. But there weren’t many coffee roasters when I was taking my first crack at being a coffee roaster, so I thought that it would be great if I could get a few coffee shops under my belt,” Jackson said.

Jackson didn’t want to necessarily let another coffee shop use his coffee under their name; he wanted people to have “Mighty Missouri” as their favorite coffee. Now knowing what he wanted to pursue with Mighty Missouri, his next step would be making the product available to the Bismarck-Mandan community.

“Typically, a roaster will sell their product to a grocery store like Whole Foods and they’ll be available in stores for purchase. I asked around and some places were interested when I reached out to them, but it took me a while to get the money down and fully-printed packaging prepared for the grocery store sales. I wouldn’t recommend anyone start their business this way, by reaching out before completely prepared, but I was flush with naïveté,” Jackson said.

After months of startup headaches, sweat, and tears had gone by, Jackson was finally ready and called back to follow up with them. Unfortunately, they told him that they were looking at another place and that they would ultimately pass on Mighty Missouri Coffee.

“It was heartbreaking to lose that chance. Coffee is such a competitive, tight space. I asked if I could still drop off a bag on their desk, but they decided to pass on a meeting altogether. I knew that it wouldn’t be the end of my business on day one, but that was a big piece of what I wanted to do and where my heart was at,” Jackson said.

During the same week as his rejection, Jackson was volunteering at Bismarck’s Shiloh Christian School, where Grammy award-nominated artist Matthew West was performing. Little did Jackson know, that one volunteering opportunity would change the course of his entrepreneurial career.

“I went there wearing my brand new Mighty Missouri Coffee t-shirt, which was just the sample version to see if I wanted to order more. Eventually, Matthew West came in and thanked everyone for helping, and he happened to ask me about my shirt. He asked if it was a local thing, and I told him that it was my dream project that I just started. He asked me for a shirt, so I guessed his size, went and picked one up, and quickly gave it to the tour manager when I got back,” Jackson said.

That night in front of a sold-out crowd, Matthew West wore that shirt on stage underneath his jacket. When West took his jacket off, he briefly stopped the performance for a few minutes to talk about how his friend was opening up Mighty Missouri Coffee in Bismarck.

“It was just the sweetest thing that he could do to talk it up and call me a friend, and it gave Mighty Missouri a huge leg up moving forward.

Had Matthew not given me that spotlight, it would have been an entirely different path. I already had a website and soon after, people were reaching out and emailing asking where they could get this coffee and when the business would be opening,” Jackson said.

He responded to every single inquiry, telling them to reach out to the local grocery stores and ask them. Within a week or two, Jackson received a call from a grocery store that was interested in getting this coffee on the shelves. He worked with them to get a full row of Mighty Missouri in the coffee aisle. While it may not have made him a living right away, that step was most certainly a billboard for the brand.

From there, Jackson opened Mighty Missouri’s first coffee bar inside 701 Cycle and Sports in 2016. The coffee bar represented an opportunity for him to learn about storefronts and what being in one was like.

“I wanted to show off what we were doing with the business because there’s nothing else like it. That was the first time that we were able to partner with people, and for the first time, I had a team. It was a super small team, but that made it something more than just my own thing, which was a huge shift in how things were going for Mighty Missouri as a company,” Jackson said. 

While Jackson loved the coffee bar at 701 Cycle and Sports for its vibrant community, he admitted that it didn’t feel like the “forever space” for Mighty Missouri.

“The coffee bar was a really cool and fun time, but Mighty Missouri wasn’t a moneymaker yet. More than anything, to start a coffee shop is to learn how to balance and not lose your money. It’s a hard space, but we learned and opened a space inside the Bismarck YMCA in 2017, which changed a lot for us,” Jackson said.

The Bismarck YMCA had previously announced that they had been considering plans to incorporate a coffee shop into their location and were accepting applications for business plans.

“We put everything we had into that plan to secure the space. Thankfully, they selected us to open in their front lobby, and we were able to double our team from there. They could have talked to a Caribou or Starbucks, but they wanted it to be local, which went a long way in our eyes,” Jackson said.

For six years now, Mighty Missouri Coffee Co. has found immense success in its storefront at the Bismarck YMCA. So much so, that Jackson and the team opened a second location in September of 2023 within the Kirkwood Mall. While opening a new location is admittedly a large hurdle to overcome for Jackson and the team, it’s a great challenge to be facing. 

“We’re at a completely new transition where it was a super small business, and I was the culture, to now having nearly 30 people in total on our staff. Now, the company is forming the culture. I’m the only common denominator from when we began our initial storefront, so we have people who don’t yet understand the full backstory of the business, yet they’re excited to learn and work with us. We’ve had some fantastic people with natural leadership skills join our team, which has made all the difference,” Jackson said.

Did You Know?

In 2016, Mighty Missouri Coffee Co. was selected by Google as a highlighted small business!

Small businesses that were successfully growing and using Google were selected from each state.

“They had a professional photographer come in, do a big write-up, and send it out to a bunch of places because Mighty Missouri uses Google, which was an honor. Last year, which was celebrating 10 years of being a company, we were invited to visit Washington, D.C. by Google with roughly 150 other small business owners. I thought that I was either there by a huge blessing or a huge mistake. I saw the owners of BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages and Portrait Coffee and many other people that I admire, so that was a very memorable milestone for us.”

– Brian Jackson

Brian Jackson and Mighty Missouri Coffee Co. were previously featured as the "Face of Coffee" in the 2022 edition of our annual publication, FACES of BismarckMandan!

"I was alone in this business for years when I first began, so my whole prayer was just to have a team. I work very well within a team, and not as well alone. Now that I have the team that I've always wanted, and am proud to have, one of the challenges is acknowledging that I'm allowed to enjoy it. Not in terms of taking a break or letting up, and definitely not getting complacent, but just acknowledging that this is the dream that I was hoping for and allowing myself to celebrate how far Mighty Missouri has come. I'm always looking at the challenges, cash flow, and how we can grow, which can be stressful, but it's always good to rise to those occasions and grow in a positive direction, and especially take note of it."


Q: What’s your personal favorite beverage at Mighty Missouri?

A: That’s a great question! Honestly, I love black coffee. However, every drink we have has an absolute seal of approval from me. Other than black coffee, my absolute favorites are our espresso and americano.

Q: What are some of Mighty Missouri’s most popular beverages during the winter season?

A: Our miel, which is a honey cinnamon latte. Our Mighty Miel has a little bit extra in there and that’s our most popular specialty drink. Our most popular drink is our vanilla latte, which is just a great latte that comes from great espresso. Our latte is one of those lattes that you can have plain and think, ‘oh, this is good,’ then, add some flavoring to that and it’s even better.

With a full team behind him, Jackson aims to further integrate Mighty Missouri Coffee Company within the Bismarck-Mandan community through community-engaging events, such as the Bis-Man Triathlon. While the local triathlon has been active since 2010, Jackson and the Mighty Missouri team took on not just sponsoring, but hosting the event a few years ago. Located at McDowell Dam Recreation Area, the triathlon is no small race by any means.

“It’s a state championship race. We have professional timing come in and athletes fly in for this race, which is really cool to see and host hundreds of participants each year. That’s our number one community engagement event; we’ve already been planning for next year, which has been a huge undertaking. When runners participate in the Bis-Man Triathlon, Mighty Missouri staff is out there cheering them on with flags; we shut down the shops for the day to be out on the road for this race. It takes a community to bring it together, between volunteers and business sponsors, and trying to outdo ourselves from the previous year,” Jackson said.

Did You Know?

The Bis-Man Triathlon is an official USA Triathlon (USAT)-sanctioned race.

What is a triathlon?

A triathlon is a multi-sport event that combines three different physical activities in one race. In the Bis-Man Triathlon, activities include swimming, cycling, and running at the McDowell Dam Recreation Area.

Community engagement aside, Jackson also remains focused on Mighty Missouri’s standards for customer service and leaving a smile on each customer’s face. According to Jackson, one of the company’s large beliefs is that employees think of every customer as if they were a celebrity.

“We aim to give them the best experience possible from the moment they walk in the door. There’s something special about giving a customer that feeling; we like to think that we’re making a difference for the better in our community. Being located at the Missouri Valley Family YMCA, where they have a wide variety of programs, you don’t necessarily know what people are going through in a day. No matter how their day is going, we want to give them an experience to make it great. Having a location in the Kirkwood Mall also offers a different environment and group of people than the YMCA, so it’s been so great to be a part of those unique communities by putting ourselves out there,” Jackson said. 

"We want people to know that we're our own independent business. Sometimes, people come in and automatically think we're a Starbucks or that we carry Starbucks products, but I like to think it's because we look good and we're doing everything right. We're operating professionally, the branding is on par, and every little detail looks great because we're from Bismarck. We care about this town and community and hold ourselves to a high standard because of it."


Q: What trends have you noticed in the coffee industry in the last year or so? Do you notice any trends coming through that you want to stay on top of?

A: I don’t know if it’s a trend per se, or if it’s just that everyone uses them, but we’re hoping to release K cups within the next year. There are a lot of trends in the specialty coffee world, and we don’t want to latch on to every passing thing. We want to know and remember who we are and be that. I have personally made the mistake of seeing what’s going on out there that makes a lot of money or that other coffee shops are doing, tried that, and it just doesn’t work because it’s not us. At the end of the day, we just want to authentically be ‘Mighty Missouri.’

Looking ahead in 2024, Mighty Missouri’s goal is to expand aggressively and introduce themselves to even more new customers this year. The team recently hired their first-ever full-time salesperson on staff at their office roastery.

“We’ve never been on the offense and gone out to grow before; everything’s been organic. We want to grow this year and make moves to build our structure while continuing to tighten things up with a closeknit culture across our team. Last fall, our Kirkwood Mall location had our first-ever Black Friday, which was a unique experience. There are a lot of people in Bismarck who we haven’t gotten to share a coffee with just yet, so one of our big goals is just to be a little bit louder within our community,” Jackson said.

Mighty Missouri Coffee Co.

Missouri Valley Family YMCA
1608 N Washington St,
Bismarck, ND 58501

Kirkwood Mall Location
706 Kirkwood Mall,
Bismarck, ND 58504