Live in the D: Uniquely Detroit—Detroit Coffee January 28, 2020
Faces: Nick Becharas January 28, 2020
Diversification is key to coffee company's business brew
"Becharas Bros. Coffee Co. has a long history of diversifying its client base.
The 102-year-old company opened its first coffee roasting plant in downtown Chicago. Nicholas Becharas and George Becharas, Greek immigrants, founded the business after working in the restaurant industry for many years.
The business opened a Detroit location in the late 1920s, and gained traction by delivering coffee to businesses throughout Michigan and northern Ohio, selling to restaurants, prisons, institutions and hotels.
It also sold coffee to retail stores under the brand Royal York Coffee.
"They knew that one constant is that all restaurants used coffee," said Nicholas Becharas, grand-nephew of the founder. "Our whole identity has always been centered on coffee, and I think it's allowed us to focus on that commodity itself."
Nicholas Becharas, who is president and CEO of the company, owns the third-generation family company, along with siblings Dean Becharas, who is vice president and COO, chief operating officer, and Stephanie Becharas, who is secretary and treasurer. Demi Becharas, also a sibling, runs the company's accounts.
For 50 years, Becharas Bros. was the main supplier of coffee for the U.S. military, generating up to 70 percent of the company's income for decades.
"That's really what led to growth and taking the company to the next level," Becharas said. "That gave us a lot of buying power in the industry and let us compete with the big boys."
The company moved to its current Highland Park location in 1965.
Changes in military purchasing in 1991 forced Becharas Bros. to come up with a new plan. After networking with an Aramark employee, a large food supplier, Becharas Bros. decided to return to retail. It invested in new machinery and salespeople.
Consequently, many current customers now are in the office coffee service market and vending machine industry. The company also packages coffee for 44 private labels in 24 states, and manufactures coffee for King Coffee & Tea Service Corp. and Detroit Bold Coffee Co.
"You always have to look for different revenues streams," Becharas said."