Coffee business takes center stage

By Rhonda J. Miller
PBN Staff Writer

The big demand for small-batch-roasted coffee and cold-brewed coffee syrups has pushed Dave’s Coffee into a bigger facility and helped it break into the international marketplace. More

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Coffee business takes center stage

PBN PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD
ROASTED: Dave’s Coffee owner Dave Lanning unloads the roasting machine after a batch of coffee beans finished roasting. The company began as an espresso bar in 2003.

By Rhonda J. Miller
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 7/8/13

The big demand for small-batch-roasted coffee and cold-brewed coffee syrups has pushed Dave’s Coffee into a bigger facility and helped it break into the international marketplace.

The business was established in 2003 with an espresso bar in a renovated 1740 farmhouse in Charlestown. The coffee shop was a sidelight to the successful 16-year-old Galapagos boutique run by Dave Lanning’s wife, Sandra Lanning.

The coffee bar was a progression of the couple’s continuing interest in launching small businesses. They started a successful online apparel business and had specialty shops, including a hearts-and-poems temporary popup shop at a mall around Valentine’s Day.

Until the current expansion-in-progress for coffee roasting, syrup production, packaging and distribution, Dave Lanning’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth wasn’t an obvious advantage for the business.

Now, with the planned move from a 400-square-foot roasting facility in Westerly to a 7,500-square-foot location in Narragansett in the next few months, the need to develop machinery for production and distribution has put Lanning’s engineering skills to work.

“It’s funny how everything you learn comes back in life,” said Lanning. “At the new location in Narragansett, we have machinery that applies labels. We’ll have more roasting and packaging of our whole-bean coffee.

“I think it helps a lot having a background in mechanical engineering when you’re laying out floor plans and reading mechanical drawings,” said Lanning. “It keeps us from having to hire someone to do some of the work.”

Developing the line of all-natural syrup was another path for putting Lanning’s engineering skills to work.

“We cold-brew our coffee in a big, stainless vat for coffee syrup. We had to design it,” said Lanning. “We had to take a big, steam kettle like they use in restaurants and get a local welder to make a custom filter. It’s just one of those things that isn’t out there.”

Sales of the craft-roasted, whole-bean coffee to gourmet restaurants like Farmstead in Providence and large buyers, including Whole Foods, have been a foundation for success. Dave’s Coffee sells to 28 Whole Foods locations in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine.

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