by Liset Márquez, Staff Writer, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Mike Perry can talk about coffee all day.
That's why in his Klatch Coffee stores, "coffee is the conversation."
It's a conversation now being had in Ontario, where the newest Klatch Coffee has opened at Concours and Haven Avenue.
After 17 years in the business, Perry, Klatch's owner and CEO, has expanded from one store in Rancho Cucamonga, which is known as Coffee Klatch in the region, to three shops, including his second location in San Dimas and his own roasting operation in Upland.
"We try to create coffee we like to drink and I think we create great coffee," said Perry, who drinks about six cups of coffee and two shots of espresso a day.
Perry's daughter, Heather, said more than half the people who have come into the Ontario location since its opening Tuesday are familiar with the brand.
"It's been a really good response and we've gotten more people than I thought we would for the first week," said Heather, who captured first place at the U.S. Barista Championship in 2003 and 2007.
About six months ago, Perry said, he was approached by the landlord of the building to see if he wanted to move in. The location worked well, so Perry decided to expand. Now the company has about 40 employees.
And the new shop is just one of many recent changes for the company.
Last month, a new company Web site was launched, and last year Perry unveiled a new logo and new packaging. He has also begun to sell reusable coffee cups and mugs, all with the new logo.
In the next few weeks, Perry said he will begin renovations to his two other locations, starting first in Rancho Cucamonga. He hopes to be done in April.
Perry prides himself on traveling to different countries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama and tasting for himself what he will be bringing back to his roasting company.
Next week he will be in Ethiopia visiting farms, he said.
But Perry is not just interested in finding the best coffee beans in the world; his focus is also on sustainability.
Perry said he is just as interested in what farmers are doing for the environment and community as he is in quality.
And the industry has noticed.
Last year Roast, an industry magazine, named the company "Micro Roaster of the Year."
"It's exciting and its nice that other people see the work and taste the difference," Perry said.