- BigFoot Java News
Kent company creating its niche with 24 hour espresso stops
By ELAINE PORTERFIELD
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
KENT -- It's a big, mean and crowded world of espresso
out there, but a small, ambitious coffee company hopes
to chisel out a niche with caffeine fiends with drive-through
shops open around the clock.
The company is BigFoot Java®, and it's putting final
touches on the "BigFoot University" in Kent's
industrial area, where it plans to give its coffee-drink
makers what it hopes is the best training in the industry.
The company has six shops, all in South King and Pierce
counties, with six more to open soon in the same region.
The drive-thru at South 212th Street and 84th Avenue South
in Kent is one of six BigFoot Java® outlets offering
caffeine connoisseurs a jolt to keep them rockin' around
The owners say they're aiming for a spot in the market
between the big, international specialty coffee chains
and single-owner, drive-through espresso stops. They say
drive-through sales are the hottest trend in the espresso
market right now.
"I think we're a very unique firm," said David Morris,
director of marketing and an investor in the company, as he
gave a tour of a BigFoot shop at 21116 84th Ave. S.
One way the company is seeking to distinguish itself is through
employee training, he said. Inconsistency in the way coffee
drinks are made is a big problem, Morris said, something that
irks customers who expect a certain taste when they order their
"We train our baristas more than other chains," he
claims, in areas ranging from the basics of espresso-making
and customer service to the more esoteric: precise movement
behind the coffee bar and "precision milk foaming."
Training is done at individual BigFoot shops, but that will
change come June, when the company's barista school opens.
"We teach them every single factor there is in making the
perfect espresso and the perfect drink," Morris said. He
aims to have employees treat customers with the much-lauded
Nordstrom style of courtesy and politeness.
Baristas will be retrained periodically, to keep their skills
well-honed, he said.
BigFoot was profiled in a cover story in the February issue
of Specialty Coffee Retailer, a national industry publication,
and that has sparked interest around the country from people
interested in franchises, company officials said.
"The objective is to open 25 company-owned and 25 franchise
stores by early 2005," said Al Jiwani, president. "However,
the interest from our national cover story has been from coast
to coast, and that could well accelerate our regional and national
All of the drive-through shops are designed in a style Morris
calls "neo-Northwest," a mixture of stained wood,
metal, exposed beams and stone. An "always open" sign
shines at the front.
"People know they can stop at BigFoot if they (work) a
weird shift at Boeing or are coming home from a bar," Morris
said. "We're always there."
The company was born several years ago, when Jiwani, whose background
includes the development of businesses such as service stations,
car washes and convenience stores, joined forces with Morris,
who owns Dillanos Coffee Roasters in Sumner. They have developed
a signature taste for the coffee used at BigFoot, a smooth,
velvety brew, Morris said.
It's all very exciting, said Morris, who began in the coffee
business with a single espresso cart in front of a Buckley convenience
store. He now envisions the company's Northwest-style espresso
shops in locations around the country.
"We are definitely ahead of the curve here," he said.