Today you can park yourself in a booth on Superior Street, walk down aisle 8 at your regional grocery store, or even have a rotating coffee subscription delivered weekly to your front door. But 10 years ago, the only way you were getting hold of freshly roasted Duluth Coffee Company coffee was from the bed of Eric Faust’s ’91 Ford F-150 at a farmer’s market.
“For me, coffee has been what I was created to do, and I knew that very early on,” said Faust, owner of Duluth Coffee Company in Duluth, MN, which celebrates 10 years in business this month.
It was Faust’s vision to turn his love of coffee into a business that led him to the Entrepreneur Fund in 2011. Through the Entrepreneur Fund’s SBA Microloan program, Faust accessed a $10,000 loan to finance the purchase of a 3-kilogram coffee roaster.
“I asked for money because I had to and $10,000 was a gigantic number. It still is a gigantic number. But especially at that time,” said Faust, who was a new dad and a first-time homeowner.
Since that first loan, Faust has grown the company exponentially. He’s gone from that small 3-kilogram roaster to a 70-kilogram roaster, opened a retail storefront in downtown Duluth, and partnered with a packaging and distribution center up the hill. All while keeping his mission at the core of everything he does.
“Duluth coffee, it’s like, the most tangible reflection of my heart and my passion,” said Faust. “And it’s something that started with me, but it’s been the creation of a lot of people who have been here and some that are still here.”
One of those people is EFund’s Director of Business Finance Mike Lattery, who has worked with Faust since the early days of roasting coffee beans in his garage.
“It’s been super important for us to not have mission drift and to just stay very clear and focused on what we’re doing,” said Faust. “That’s why I have a close group of people that I can speak really openly and honestly, and I know that they will speak to me openly and honestly. Mike Lattery is one who is not afraid to explain to me exactly how he sees it. That’s been important.”
Duluth Coffee Company recently reached $1.5 million in gross revenue. Faust said that in the next few years he plans to hit the $3 million mark, which to him means being able to provide people with careers.
“There’s so much more I want to do with this company, and I know I can talk to the Entrepreneur Fund openly and honestly about crazy ideas, and they can bring it into a financial focus,” said Faust. “They are one of my biggest resources and they believe in what I’m doing. And so, they’re at the top of my list and I’m not done working with them.”
We aren’t done working with you either, Eric. Congratulations on 10 years in business! We can’t wait to see what the next decade of partnership will bring.
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