Java Brewing roasts up a decade of success - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Java Brewing roasts up a decade of success

Wall Street appeared to have started its holiday on Wednesday --  not much happening.

Orders for manufactured goods were at their lowest level in three months during May, oil prices were up again, and investors did some selling late in the day.

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From a coffee shop ten years ago in an old shoe repair store, today Java Brewing company is one of the largest specialty coffee roasters in America.

Mike Safai of Java Brewing says, "Sometimes I turn the lights off, I'm the only one walking out and I walk out to turn the lights off and I look at everything and it just like hits me, wow."

That's what happens when you start a coffee roasting business in a closet and ten years later you're shipping one-and-a-half million pounds of coffee to hotels, restaurants, and businesses around the world.

Mike and his wife Medora Safai buy the top two percent of the coffee from 14 countries.  Unlike other companies, computers do not roast their coffee, people do.

Safai explains, "We take the coffee as we go through the roasting process, we look at it, smell it, we look for smell, color, oil, everything else and then when we feel it is ready we dump it."

The labels read like a tour of Louisville.  Cherokee Triangle, Frankfort Avenue, coffee that Mike takes from bean to the bag in his LaGrange plant.  Until this year he didn't have a sales department.  His coffee sold by taste.

He says, "But in the last four and a half years we never had a sales department, every account, every business we got, people actually came to us."  Club Med called us, the hotels are calling us, people come here for Derby, they try our products, they love it they go back they call us, how can I get it?"

From Marriott to Best Western, Java Brewing has shipped six million packets of coffee this year.

Four years ago Mike moved to the larger LaGrange facility where he has room to grow by nearly ten times his one million pound annual capacity: "If you want to play with the big boy you have to act like one.  As an entreprneur, I said you can't say I want to chase that Porsche and go buy a Pinto and try to chase a Porsche with it, so you got to be on the same speed, ground level, everything else."

Mike has three large contracts for his coffee this fall.  At that time he expects to double his workforce to 26, and expects to employ more than 100 people within 6 years.

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Another coffee company is going to shut down 600 stores nationwide.  It seems there will not be a Starbucks on every corner.

Starbucks says most of the closings will be in highly saturated areas.  The company says the stores to be closed were not profitable and Starbucks needs to trim back.  Pete Bocian, the CFO of Starbucks, says, " I believe that this will give customers the opportunity to still have the Starbucks experience but also take some of the pressure off some of the stores in the immediate area."

Starbucks says it will offer jobs to many of the 12,000 employees impacted by the closings. Others will receive a severance package.

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America's farmers could be receiving a bonus.  Walmart wants to buy produce from local farmers.

The world's largest retailer plans to buy and sell more than $400 million in produce this year.  It will range from eggplants in New York to onions in Arizona.

Walmart says the initiative will support local farmers and cut down on transportation costs.  Added up, Walmart believes it will save $1.4 billion.

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