The Rutherford Report—Necessity Leads to Success for Klatch Coffee

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“Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that's exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking.”

—Anita Roddick
Necessity Leads to Success for Klatch Coffee

Mike Perry wasn’t a coffee connoisseur when he started his now internationally known business, Klatch Coffee, Inc., in 1993. He was just a struggling college student, husband and father of two young girls trying to earn a buck.

“I basically needed a way to pay the bills,” he said.

In 1991, Mike sold his share in a construction business for a “pile of money” and enrolled at the University of California, Riverside to earn a degree in biochemical engineering.

Mike soon realized the money would run out before he graduated, so he and his wife, Cindy, pondered what they could do to make ends meet. At the time, the family spent a lot of their free time frequenting the coffee shops that seemed to sprout up on every corner in the early 1990s. That’s when the idea of the family opening a coffee shop began to percolate.

Cindy suggested naming the business Coffee Klatch because her grandmother often spoke of hosting coffee klatches, which are social gatherings for conversation and coffee drinking. Their first store was located at the Thomas Winery in Rancho Cucamonga.

Later on, Mike earned his degree, but he also discovered something else: His passion for coffee was more powerful than his desire to enter a new career in biochemical engineering. On the other hand, he recognized it was possible to blend the scientific knowledge he developed at UCR with his newfound passion for the coffee business.

Mike had searched high and low for the best coffee beans and found many of them didn’t meet his standards, so he purchased his own coffee roaster and began experimenting with different temperatures and how they affected various coffee beans.

“This is how we developed our ‘Peak of Flavor’ roast style where we use science and culinary art to create the perfect roast profile for every bean,” Mike said.

Mike began traveling to coffee growing regions in Indonesia, Africa, Central America and other far-flung locales to find the perfect coffee beans for his family’s growing business.

The quality of the beans, however, is only part of the equation. Mike and his family also experimented with how to brew the coffee beans and how to mix them into delicious blended drinks.

Some coffees tasted better when the beans were ground fine, others tasted better with a coarser grind. They tested different ratios of coffee, water temperatures, and other nuances to tweak the flavors until they were just right.

Klatch Coffee is also particular when it comes to hiring staff. Prospective employees need to have an engaging and outgoing personality so they can interact with customers, and they also have to enjoy a cup of Joe.

“If they don’t drink coffee, we don’t hire them,” Mike said. “We want them to experience the taste so they can get it right.”

Over the years, the business, which was rebranded as Klatch Coffee in 2007, has earned numerous accolades including being named World’s Best Espresso in Tokyo in 2007, Micro Roaster of the Year in 2009, Best Coffee House in America in 2012 and Southwest Brewers Cup Champion in 2014.

Klatch Coffee has retail locations in Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, San Dimas, LAX, and Seoul, South Korea. The business also sells coffee and a plethora of coffee-related items on its website.

Discover more about Klatch Coffee by visiting
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