Young Millionaires

Jean-Philippe Iberti, 33, And Todd Carmichael, 37

By Kimiko L. Martinez

It's rumored the Republicans took their convention to Philadelphia for the coffee. After dining at Le Bec Fin, one of the city's most popular restaurants, one delegate said, "That's the best coffee I've ever had." Le Bec Fin's chef, Georges Perrier, must agree-he's been serving La Colombe Torrefaction's coffee since master roaster Jean-Philippe Iberti brewed him his first cup.

Want to hear what the king of coffee has to say? Check out "Grounds For Success" for an interview with Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz.<

Iberti and partner Todd Carmichael reacted quite differently to local brews when they arrived in 1993 while scouting locations to incubate their business. "We thought restaurants in Philadelphia were great, but the quality of the coffee was [terrible]," Carmichael says. Despite the cold weather, an airport renovation and striking garbage collectors, they fell in love with the city's European feel and walkability.

Since those early days, the company has gone from producing 27 pounds of coffee per month to more than 60,000 pounds per month for their world-renowned chef clientele and two successful Philadelphia cafes. The company expects to top $7 million this year with its acquisition and restructuring of a local competitor.

"It pleases me to think that, at least in the Northeast, all the restaurants come to Philly to get their coffee," Carmichael says. "And that's a great beginning. I want that to mature and mature."

There may have been some truth to that rumor after all.

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This article was originally published in the November 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Young Millionaires.

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