Sweet Smell Of Success Craven’s Coffee Co. Moving To Accommodate Rapid Growth

Craven’s Coffee Co. needs room to spread out.

After almost four years, the Spokane specialty coffee roasting company has outgrown its hole-in-the-wall space in an historic district downtown.

By early next year, Craven’s plans to move from 111 S. Cedar into the RiverWalk project at Trent and Hamilton, said Simon Craven-Thompson, who owns Craven’s with his wife, Becky Templin.

“We probably outgrew this space two years ago,” Craven-Thompson said. “We’ve been doing Pavarotti in a wet suit.”

Craven-Thompson attributes the company’s success to good timing, a quality product and good service. Craven’s came to Spokane just as the specialty coffee craze was hitting its stride, he said.

“It was the best decision we’ve ever made,” he said. “We hit our five-year goal after three years.”

Adding to the company’s success, he said, is “the year of the restaurant.” More restaurants are switching from commercial grade to specialty roasted coffee this year, he said, which has boosted business.

In the 1,000-square-foot shop that Craven’s has occupied since 1993, two huge coffee roasters take up most of the room. Crammed into the remaining space are a table and chairs, cash register, coffee merchandise, counter with milk and sweeteners - and eight to 10 employees.

Craven’s was the first business to occupy the RiverWalk will open in November as a New Orleans-style entertainment complex, with a microbrewery, Cajun restaurant, espresso shop and bakery, owner Steve Livingstone said.

In its first year, Craven’s attracted nearly 100 wholesale customers. Despite competition with coffee giants like Starbucks, Millstone and Seattle’s Best, Craven’s sales doubled in each of its first three years, Craven-Thompson said.

The company now serves 38 varieties of coffee to 300 restaurant, bakery and coffee shop accounts, stretching from the Inland Northwest to Chicago, California and Colorado.

When Craven-Thompson and Templin began Craven’s, they combined expertise in the coffee industry and in marketing. In Seattle, Craven-Thompson worked for Seattle’s Best Coffee and Templin ran a marketing company.

Terry Sanchez, owner of Fitzbillie’s Bagel Bakery, which serves Craven’s Coffee, said Craven’s service and quality has made the company a success. Craven’s employees advise him on the cleaning and operation of his coffee machines, and train his employees in making coffee drinks.

“They’re the first ones that have done that for me,” said Sanchez. “That’s what sets them apart. That and the quality of their coffee.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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