Press Enterprise Spills the Beans on Klatch
by The Klatch Team
Last Wednesday (10/3/12), Mike Perry and Jenette Green was interviewed by Laurie Lucas from The Press Enterprise. Not only was it an exciting experience for the Klatch team, but also an eye opener for Laurie Lucas on why we were named Best Coffeehouse in America. Here's the teaser interview. The rest of it will be released on Oct. 9 in the Business Section of Press Enterprise.
I sniffed. I stirred. I sipped.
After visiting the Klatch Coffeehouse in Rancho Cucamonga, I know why the company won Best Coffeehouse in America last month at a Seattle competition. Their espresso is simply the best I’ve ever tasted.
That’s because founder and CEO Mike Perry travels four months a year hand picking the beans worldwide and overseeing every step of the roasting and grinding at his Upland headquarters.
Perry, a UC Riverside graduate in chemical engineering, knows exactly how to find what he calls that “sweet spot,” that peak of flavor before dropping the the beans into the cooling bin.
Since Perry, 54, opened the Rancho Cucamonga coffeehouse in the historic Thomas Winery in 1993, he has opened others in San Dimas and Ontario. Next month he’ll launch his fourth coffeehouse in the United Airlines terminal at LAX, with expected annual revenues of $3 million.
Perry, who now does $5 million worth of business a year and employs 50 people, said most revenues comes from the distribution end, wholesaling beans to restaurants, hotels and other coffeehouses. He works closely with his two daughters, Heather, who trains personnel, and Holly, who manages the stores.
Read about Perry’s specialty brews and his rise from coffee drinker to coffee poobah on Tues. Oct. 9 in the business section of The Press-Enterprise.
On Tuesday, October 9, Laurie Lucas released the full article.
Mike Perry boasts that he can guzzle espresso all day long and still sleep like a baby.
Good thing, too. That’s his own java he is gulping down from beans he has sampled from all over the world, roasted and brewed for the company he owns, Klatch Coffee, Inc.
Perry’s perfectionism has paid off: His team last month won the title of Best Coffeehouse in America at a rigorous Seattle competition that included whipping up beverages on-site.
He’s riding what he calls “the third wave of coffeehouses since 2000,” where the focus is on high-quality beans and coffee.
Perry, 54, who rides a Harley and comes to work in shorts, sandals and a T-shirt, seems an unlikely CEO. Yet in the past 19 years, he has expanded his business to 50 employees, a roaster/warehouse/distribution center in Upland, coffeehouses in Rancho Cucamonga, San Dimas and two years ago, another in Ontario.
His latest coffeehouse, 1,800 square feet, will debut on Nov. 1 in the United Airlines terminal at LAX. That store alone is projected to pull in $3 million annually, Perry said.
The company’s steadily rising revenues hit $5 million last year. More than half of them are from the wholesale coffee he sells to coffeehouses, restaurants, hotels and chains — with sales up 23 percent over last year’s. Despite the recession, “high-end coffee is an affordable luxury,” Perry said.
Easy-going and down-to-earth, Perry is a testament to the American dream, attention to detail and hard work. He opened his first Klatch coffeehouse in 1993 while pursuing his degree in chemical engineering at UC Riverside and residing in Moreno Valley with his wife and two young daughters.
“We were broke and living in affordable housing,” Perry recalls. “I thought engineering was a good way to earn money.”
He had dropped out of college years earlier to start a construction company. He sold it and invested $100,000 (one-fifth of what it costs today) to launch a coffeehouse in the historic Thomas winery at 8916 Foothill Blvd. in Rancho Cucamonga.
Why Klatch Coffee? He and his wife Cindy wanted to capture the European ideal of the coffee klatch, a German term alluding to a social gathering for coffee and conversation. Cindy initially ran the store until Mike graduated from UCR in 1996. Although engineering offers poured in, Perry didn’t want to relocate or suit up every day in the corporate world.
“We thought the coffee business was a lot more fun,” he said.
The couple opened their second store in 1997 at 806 W. Arrow Highway in San Dimas. Perry installed his own roaster there, relying on his chemical engineering background to turn beans into gold.
“Engineers think they can do everything,” Perry said with a grin.
He rolled up his sleeves, created bean profiles and applied the scientific method to plot and document every roasting variable such as air flow and temperature to tap into the perfect taste.
“You’re looking for that peak of flavor, the bean’s sweet spot,” he said.
The next step was learning how to source great raw coffee. He bought a bigger roaster, moved it to the facility he opened in Upland and became his own green buyer. Today Perry travels the globe four months a year visiting coffee farms in such places as Brazil, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Indonesia. There he ensures the best results of each harvest right where the growers planted the seeds.
At the Rancho Cucamonga coffeehouse, Perry’s coffees received rave reviews. Christina Tangonan, 28, had sworn off coffee for four months until tempted by Klatch’s Mexican mocha.
“Fantastic,” she said, after finishing a small cup for $3.19.
Her friend, Samantha Langan, 26, ordered her usual nonfat latte.
“Awesome,” she said. “It keeps me going.”
Perry still is the roast master, a job he loves, although his fancier, computerized machine eliminates the need for the trial-and-error calculations he used to perform. He runs the company with daughters Heather Perry Andrews, 29, a two-time U.S barista champion, and Holly Perry, 26.
Perry credits the Klatch team — his daughters and barista Jenette Green — for beating out seven finalists at America’s Best Coffeehouse Competition. Vetting included a video that Perry submitted, a secret shopper’s evaluation of their stores, online voting and running a mock café in front of 30 judges.
The clincher for the trophy and $2,500 prize? Their cold Naked Verbena, mixed in an ice shaker with lemon peel, verbena leaves and a shot of espresso.
“It blew the judges away,” Perry said.
Having the title of Best Coffeehouse in America is certainly a very humbling and exciting at the same time. That being said, the Klatch team will always strive to be the best despite all the competition hovering around the corner. We'd like to thank everyone again for voting and giving Klatch the opportunities to be the best. If you're interested in any Roasting training from Mike Perry Click here for more information, click here and get up to date news about coffee,training and Klatch events.
Press Enterprise spills the Beans on Klatch