Live in the D: Uniquely Detroit—Detroit Coffee January 28, 2020
Faces: Nick Becharas January 28, 2020
Our Greek Story: Becharas Brothers Coffee Co.
"Around the unassuming plant on Hamilton in Highland Park, the ‘c’ word is coffee, of course. But ‘continuity’ would serve as well.
As Detroit’s last institutional coffee manufacturer and bean roaster, Becharas Coffee has undergone changes since its inception in 1914, but in a world of fast-pace upgrades, cost trimming and sellouts, surprisingly few. Things at Becharas are done much as they were when the company was founded by the late George and Nicholas Becharas; that is to say, with a love of quality, pride, tradition, and above all, family. Why mess with a good thing?
The cupping table, for example—the on-premise lazy-susan where incoming beans are evaluated—is over 130 years old. Generations of Becharas tasters have slurped and judged from this location, some using gold spoons, like Dean Becharas Sr., the 72-year-old patriarch of the coffee clan, some using silver; notably Nick Becharas, eldest son of Dean Sr. and company president. Nick’s younger brother, Dean Jr., vice-president, is also a vital component of such tastings, where techniques familiar to wine-tasters, including evaluations of bouquet, body and aftertaste are carefully noted in a process that at Becharas Brothers, has been going on for nearly a century. A family affair? And how. Says Nick, “My father’s goal was to improve the mechanics of the operation, not the essence, so that he could eliminate the need for extra employees and run the place with a handful of family members.
Mission accomplished. Today, if your name isn’t Becharas, you are in the minority inside the 25,000 square foot building, where up to 70,000 pounds of coffee can be—and has been—roasted daily. That’s the equivalent, according to Dean Sr., of nearly half a million cups. It’s a capacity that spearheaded one of the company’s greatest triumphs, supplying coffee to the United States Army—a relationship which lasted many years and of which the family is still justly proud.
With such an established presence in the Detroit community, it’s no surprise that some of the area’s most lucrative contracts are held by Becharas Brothers Coffee. Beside being one of the primary suppliers of coffee throughout the Midwest with their Royal York brand, the company also proudly lists Big Boy Restaurants throughout the country as one of their premier accounts.
Along with DeanSr.’s daughters Stephanie (who runs the front office) and Demi, the hardworking Becharas clan has expanded their selection of coffees with ‘The Royal Collection’ – a line of gourmet coffees, as well as the ‘Forza’ line of espresso, and in the process, deepened the Becharas Brothers position as a supplier to the office coffee service and the vending industries with a variety of premium products.
Of Greek descent, the Becharas’s manifest all the traits that we have come to love and appreciate about this race, including love of family, nose-to-the-grindstone perseverance, and of course, good taste… in art, food, music, and yeah, coffee too."
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