May 29, 2007 in Business

Have coffee, will travel

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Holly Pickett photo

Caffé Pazzesco co-founder and business partner Tricia Petrinovich says the premium coffee-service company aims to take the coffee shop experience to the workplace.
(Full-size photo)

Caffé Pazzesco offers to help local companies jump-start productivity and morale, one cup at a time.

The 17-month-old coffee service will arrange an automatic, single-serving coffee machine, condiment rack, wooden cabinet and artistic poster in a company’s office – all at the supplier’s expense.

Clients buy the gourmet coffee and condiments to supply this “coffee shop at work.” And while Caffé Pazzesco’s offerings may cost more than competitors’, the company bills its service as a wallet-friendly perk employers can provide workers while keeping them in-house instead of frequenting coffee shops.

“We’re helping employers to maximize the perception of the benefit,” said co-founder Steve Palmer, who translates the company’s name from Italian as “crazy about coffee.”

Palmer said the company has more than 120 clients in the Spokane area, and he expects to brew Caffé Pazzesco into a $10 million company in four years.

The company recently sold its assets in Seattle, where Palmer lives, to grow its local operations, and Palmer plans to expand to Boise this summer. He said the sale will help Caffé Pazzesco focus on smaller markets like Spokane, where he enjoys doing business. National company Aramark Refreshment Services bought the Seattle portion of the business in late April, Palmer said.

Caffé Pazzesco faces competition from several local vending and coffee service companies, but Palmer said his company is the first in the area to introduce individual-cup brewing systems, and his business focuses more on enhancing the image of workplace coffee.

Palmer and partner Tricia Petrinovich aim to cultivate a classy, artistic image for the company, from the décor of its downtown showroom to custom graphics on its machines.

Funded by Palmer, Petrinovich and a third partner, Caffé Pazzesco became profitable within its first 13 months, said Palmer, 53.

Caffé Pazzesco employees bring prospective clients to the company’s showroom, located at 1821 W. 5th Ave Suite 104, where they can sample some of the 60 coffee varieties the company carries, including blends by Diedrich Coffee Inc., Coffee People, Tully’s Coffee and Gloria Jean’s Coffees.

The five-person business’ clients range from small outfits to a Porsche dealership and Agilent Technologies Inc.’s office in Liberty Lake.

The company’s Keurig Inc. one-cup machines allow clients to stock a variety of blends so workers can pick and choose, said Petrinovich, who also owns the Liberty Lake women’s fitness center Curves. The coffeemakers inject pressurized hot water into small plastic cups containing ground coffee and a filter.

Pearson Packaging Systems in Spokane uses five of the machines, said Michele DiCicco, administrative assistant for Pearson. The company switched from a different coffee service about a year ago after its president wanted to upgrade, DiCicco said.

“This is a lot cleaner,” she said. “People don’t actually have to open the bags of coffee and pour it into the filter and clean out the filter.”

Other machine options include a bean-to-cup grinder that makes three types of coffee, and a traditional pot-style coffeemaker for small companies.

Caffé Pazzesco employees visit clients regularly to restock, and the company offers around-the-clock servicing. The company recommends equipment and supply volume to customers based on a proprietary computer model, Petrinovich said.

“We couldn’t be happier than the way we’ve been received in Spokane,” Palmer said.

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