Colleen and Gary Meyer have a love affair with coffee. The romance started on a trip to Costa Rica almost 30 years ago when they camped on a coffee plantation and worked the annual harvest. They quickly developed an appreciation for the Costa Rican people, their culture and their coffee industry.
The Meyers started Friedrichs Coffee in Des Moines, eventually expanding into four locations around the metro area. As a small batch artisan roaster, they purchase only the highest quality coffee beans from small farms and private estates worldwide and hand-roast them in small batches using gas-fired European drum style roasters.
Relationships matter in the small business community and Friedrichs’ success depends on it. The Meyers have cultivated strong relationships throughout their supply chain – from the farmers, brokers, roasters, retail stores to the consumer. Along the way they built a very loyal customer base. It was customer demand that led to their expansion into comprehensive office coffee and pantry services for local businesses.
The business is named after Gary’s great-grandfather and his mother’s stories about spending time in his Berlin coffee shop as a child. It is only appropriate that the Meyers still consider themselves mom and pop business owners as they carry on the family’s entrepreneurial legacy.
The Meyers previously worked with the Des Moines SCORE Chapter, a SBA resource partner, when they owned a floral business and paid it forward by sharing their insight and expertise at other SCORE training workshops.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit this spring, Friedrichs’ sales decreased by 55 percent despite staying open as a designated essential business. Thanks to an SBA-backed PPP loan through Freedom Financial, they were able to retain their employees at regular hours with no layoffs.
Like many small businesses, they pivoted to adjust to the changing business climate. They launched a mobile app for customers to order and pay by phone and store front parking for customer takeout orders. They also used the downtime to renovate their retail store in Urbandale while keeping the drive-thru open for their loyal customers. The changes paid off, with business now at 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
The Meyers even offered free shipping nationwide for their 12-ounce packaged coffee targeting quarantined consumers. While America is waking up to small business’ impact on the nation’s economy, more customers are starting their day with Friedrichs Coffee nationwide.