Biggby Celebrates Birthday with 99 Cent Lattes

CREATED Mar 15, 2012

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Biggby Coffee celebrates a big birthday today. Founded in East Lansing in 1995, Biggby is now the fastest growing coffee chain in the US, according to CNBC.

Growing up in Europe, Bob Fish, the founder and CEO of Biggby Coffee, saw coffee as more than just a drink -- it served as an inspiration.

"Specialty coffee just caught my eye at that point in time and I saw a real opportunity," Fish said.

It was an opportunity to open a coffee shop near his alma mater, Michigan State. Biggby, formerly know as Beaners, wasn't an immediate success when it opened in East Lansing 17 years ago.

"When we first opened the first Biggby Coffee, it opened to a resounding thud," said Fish. "We served about 4 customers an hour and almost summarily went out of business."

But Fish refused to give up on his dream - to serve coffee in a fun and unintimidating way.

"That has translated later to our cultural values - have fun, be happy, make friends, love people, and drink great coffee," Fish explained.

Fish says sticking to those core values allowed Biggby to grow rapidly. When Biggby first opened, it was one of about 35 coffee shops in the Lansing area. Now there are still about 35 coffee shops in this area, but 27 of them are Biggby's. Biggby has also expanded beyond Michigan with 144 locations in six different states.

"Of course it feels great to have this kind of momentum, but we kind of have a tendency to look forward and not look back so much," said Fish. "So our goal is still to be the largest franchised specialty coffee shop in America."

Fish says they'll reach that goal by continuing to focus on their most important priority - the customer.

"Our goal is to create one new Biggby coffee fanatic per day, per store, who will promote us to others in infinitum," said Fish. "So we love the people that we serve."

To thank the customers that have kept Biggby in business for 17 years, every location is offering tall lattes, hot or cold, for 99 cents today.