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Retailer Profile:
Dunn Bros Coffee

Staff Report

With over 20 years of experience as a roaster retailer coffee shop, Dunn Bros Coffee is recognized for their focus on promoting local ownership and communication. Tea and Coffee Trade Journal has the pleasure to discuss their unique business model.


T&C: How long have you been in business?

CE: The first Dunn Bros Coffee location opened in 1987. Dunn Bros Coffee is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year.

T&C: How did you begin?

CE: Brothers, Ed and Dan Dunn, founded Dunn Bros Coffee in 1987 after Ed had attended college in Eugene, Oregon and observed the growing coffee house trend. The coffee phenomenon of the early-‘80s in Portland and Seattle-areas seemed to be rooted in the fact that the 'fresh roasted' aroma of coffee clearly signals quality coffee to consumers. Ed and his brother, Dan decided to import their talents, passion for coffee roasting, and this growing trend to Minneapolis, Minnesota. In December of 1987, Ed and Dan opened the first Dunn Bros Coffee Shop on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Dunnís chose the Twin Cities area because it matched the demographics and ambiance of Portland. In 1993, Chris Eilers and Marshall (Skip) Fay made a decision to enter into the increasingly popular coffeehouse retail business. As loyal and impressed patrons of Dunn Bros Coffee, they could see that this coffeehouse and roastery concept had the potential to become very popular and wanted to enter this market at the beginning of its growth curve. After studying the different coffeehouse concepts already operating in the Twin Cities market, it was clear that Dunn Bros Coffee had the best products and concept hands down. Instead of trying to duplicate this concept, Chris and Skip made contact with Ed Dunn to see if there was a possibility of becoming a franchise. The timing was perfect, as Ed was just completing a franchise-offering circular. In 1994, Chris Eilers and Skip Fay opened the first franchised coffeehouse and roastery of Dunn Bros Coffee. In the fall of 1998, Chris and Skip purchased an exclusive right to franchise Dunn Bros Coffee. As a result of the acquisition, Chris and Skip formed a franchising entity, Dunn Bros Coffee Franchising, Inc. The company began franchising in June of 1999. In April of 2001, the company purchased the remaining assets of Dunn Bros Coffee including ownership of all trademarks and licensing agreements. There are currently 90 total locations, 88 of which are franchised locations and 2 corporately owned locations.

T&C: Please supply us with a list of tea & coffee product lines?

CE: Dunn Bros Coffee imports coffee from over 15 countries of origin. Dunn Bros Coffee carries Mighty Leaf brand tea and has a private label Chai Tea that was developed specifically for Dunn Bros Coffee. Attached is a beverage and bean menu.

T&C: What food/pastries do you offer? What else do you provide, other than tea/coffee?

CE: Dunn Bros Coffee offers bakery items such as muffins and scones, dessert bars and breads, lunch and breakfast sandwiches and soups.

T&C: Who are your beverage line suppliers?

CE: Private Label, Mighty Leaf Tea, Routin 1883 and Jet Tea.

T&C: Do you have any signature drinks? Please provide a sample recipe.

CE: Chocolate Steamed Nirvana: Steamed Cold Press Iced Coffee (which is a coffee that is brewed using an 18-hour cold water extraction method) cream and milk, with chocolate and hazelnut flavoring. Vanilla Iced Nirvana: Iced Cold Press Coffee, Cream and vanilla IceCrema blended beverages: our signature frappe based blended drink with cold press coffee, milk, and flavorings. Available in coffee, caramel, mocha, vanilla.

T&C: What are your most popular coffee origins?

CE: Our most popular coffees are from Kenya and Colombia. Currently, we offer the Kenya Kilimanjaro from the Tembo estate, which has a citrusy sweet and fruity aroma, balanced, rich finish. The Colombia Huila is from the El Pital estate and has smoky hints that produce an intensely rich, aromatic flavor, with a nice lingering cocoa finish.

T&C: Please give us your estimate foot traffic.

CE: We range between 200-600 customers per day depending on the type of location.

T&C: What are the demographics of your customers?

CE: Dunn Bros Coffee shops are geared towards the neighborhoods of each location, attracting the attention of a wide- variety of consumers.

T&C: Can you offer any promotional ideas? Incentives for purchasing or publicity; point of sale items, such as gift certificates, contests, advertising, etc.

CE: Dunn Bros Coffee focuses on promoting local ownership and communicating our key point of difference: coffee roasted each day in the store for fresher and more flavorful coffee by the cup or by the pound. In celebration of Dunn Bros Coffee 20th Anniversary, Dunn Bros Coffee introduced an Anniversary Bean Blend and is offering a free cup of Anniversary Blend coffee all day on May 18th for shops located in Minnesota and June 1st for locations outside of Minnesota: South Dakota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas.

T&C: What brand (type of) espresso machine do you have?

CE: Cimbali 3 group

T&C: Do you roast?

CE: Each traditional Dunn Bros Coffee shop roasts coffee every day in their shop. Dunn Bros Coffee is a specialty coffee shop franchise with a true point of difference, as the nation’ s only specialty coffee shop franchise that roasts its coffee beans every day right in its shops. Created on the principle that on-site roasting delivers a fresher and more flavorful cup of coffee, every traditional Dunn Bros Coffee location roasts coffee bean on-site daily guaranteeing customers the ability to purchase an impressive variety of the world’s finest coffee beans.

T&C: What brand (type of) roaster do you have?

CE: The majority of Dunn Bros Coffee shops roast with a 7-lb. Diedrich brand roaster or a 25-lb. San Franciscan Coffee Roaster.

T&C: Whom do you roast for? (Number of customers)

CE: We roast for our consumers, each day. We scoop to order, as well as use our freshly roasted coffee beans in each prepared espresso beverage. Dunn Bros Coffee holds an extremely high freshness standard of selling beans or preparing drinks with coffee beans no older than 3-5 days.

T&C: Is it under your own name, or do you do private label?

CE: Our beans are sold as Dunn Bros Coffee beans.

T&C: How do you recruit employees? How do you retain them?

CE: Dunn Bros Coffee prides itself on hiring and retaining top noch employees who are passionate about coffee and their neighborhood. Store owners are provided with support to recruit, hire, and train their employees in the areas of beverage, bean service and sales. Dunn Bros Coffee has implemented Dunn Bros University that provides monthly training workshops and on-line resources for on-going training and support.

T&C: Describe your store's layout. Do you have a turnkey design, and if not how do you find your furniture, equipment, etc.?

CE: Each Dunn Bros Coffee shop reflects its neighborhood. In addition to the signature coffee roaster, traditional Dunn Bros Coffee shops features free wireless Internet access and computer terminals in a warm, inviting atmosphere that provides a convenient place for people to work, meet, relax or enjoy the aroma. ìItís very important to us for our new franchise locations to fit into the community and not be forced in,î said Chris Eilers, CEO of Dunn Bros Coffee Franchising, Inc.

T&C: Is there anything you would like our readers to know about your shop/business? (Any quirky/quizzical information that some of our readers might find interesting about your company.)

CE: There are currently 84 Dunn Bros Coffee franchisees. The Dunn Bros Coffee Franchising, Inc. Support Center has 19 people on staff. Each year, a group of Dunn Bros Coffee franchisees, roasters, and support staff travel to a country of origin to experience the culture of a given coffee producing country and build direct relationships with the farmers. In January of 2007, the group traveled to Guatemala to meet the coffee farmers of Cerro de Oro in Santiago who belong to the ACMAT Asociacion de Campesinos Maya Tzutuhil.

Chris Ellers is the CEO Dunn Bros Coffee Franchising, Inc..


Tea & Coffee - July, 2007
Modern Process Equipment


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