Company: Dillanos Coffee Roasters
Year Started: 1990
Start-Up Costs: $35,000
1997 Projections: $2 million
In sumner, Washington, there seems to be an espresso bar or cart on nearly every street corner. But David Morris and Chris Heyer were determined not to let Dillanos Coffee Roasters get lost in the crowd. Starting out with a small espresso cart, the partners made a point of remembering their customers' names and orders. For those with large-sized thirsts, they set aside the demitasse cups and introduced a 32-ounce mug of Italy's favorite pick-me-up.
"It doesn't matter what competition is around," says Morris. "If you have a unique selling point and you position yourself in a way the other guy isn't, you [can] succeed."
And succeed they did. In a small town, word of their personalized approach spread fast, and in 1991 Morris and Heyer were able to open a wholesale roasting location. Now, sans cart, they distribute gourmet coffee blends to local espresso bars as well as to restaurants and supermarkets.
Morris and Heyer's latest venture capitalizes on the cigar craze. They created a blend of coffees specifically for cigar smokers and are blending the trends-Dillanos now carries hand-rolled cigars that complement its gourmet coffees.