Duluth Coffee Company is a Duluth staple. Locals love it. Tourists can’t get enough. Across the board, consumers appreciate the sustainably-sourced, high-quality coffee – but just seven years ago, the Duluth Coffee Company was still an idea, percolating in the mind and heart of Eric Faust.
With a vision to turn his love of coffee into a business, Eric approached the Entrepreneur Fund. Working with the Entrepreneur Fund gave Eric the support he needed to get his business off the ground. He accessed startup financing to purchase a 3-kilogram coffee roaster and began roasting coffee beans in his garage.
After some trial and error, Eric mastered the roasting process and began selling his freshly roasted beans at local farmers markets and restaurants from the bed of his ’91 Ford F-150. There was no turning back; Duluth Coffee Company had been born.
Eric’s coffee was flying out of the truck bed. Keeping up with demand was becoming more and more challenging, creating an opportunity for Duluth Coffee Company to grow. Coffee lover? Yes. Innovator? Definitely. Savvy entrepreneur? Not quite yet. Eric knew he’d need to develop his own skills as Duluth Coffee Company grew, so he turned back to the Entrepreneur Fund.
“I am a coffee roaster at heart, so learning the ways of business has taken constant effort,” explained Eric. “The business has changed so much in the past two years, and I’ve had to evolve as a business owner. We’ve gone through a giant expansion to increase our roasting capacity and have built a distribution system that is unlike any other in the industry.”
With assistance in business consulting, expansion financing and strategic business planning from the Entrepreneur Fund, Eric cultivated the company for growth and expansion. He opened Duluth Coffee Company’s retail storefront in October 2012 in the heart of downtown Duluth, quickly becoming an essential part of many morning commutes. As demand and brand awareness steadily grew, Eric replaced the 3-kilogram roaster with a 12-kilogram model, and the Duluth Coffee Company’s popularity continued to trend upward. Since then, the coffee house has expanded to include a large-scale 70-kilogram roaster in the Roasteria, which also serves wine, beer and cocktails, just down the street.
“Mike Lattery, Director of Business Finance at the Entrepreneur Fund, took a huge risk on me seven years ago and has been my most trusted friend in the financial world,” Eric continued. “Duluth Coffee Company would not exist without the Entrepreneur Fund.”
Local Coffee Roasted with Integrity and Intentionality
As business has grown, Eric has made it Duluth Coffee Company’s mission to “roast and craft coffee with integrity and intentionality.” He takes great pride in the ongoing relationships he’s developed with worldwide coffee cooperatives and farmers who work hard every day to provide high-quality coffee beans. Eric and his head roaster often travel to source new coffee beans and enjoy meeting with community members along the way. Their appreciation, according to Eric, makes it all worth it. While the Duluth Coffee Company provides Duluth with fresh coffee, drinks and a place to hang out, it’s more than that; Duluth Coffee Company has changed lives across the globe.
“We purchase some of the finest coffees in the world and pay some of the best prices in the world,” Eric explained. “When people drink Duluth Coffee, they are truly helping improve economies in worlds away.”
The Duluth Coffee Company started as a vision and became something real, thriving and powerful. While Eric acknowledges this process of growth has been challenging, he also feels that it’s important to pursue your passion. His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? “When you believe in something deeply, it makes overcoming the struggles the only option. Besides that, smile and laugh regularly.”