Innkeeper's Coffee (Knox County)

Innkeeper's Coffee
Galesburg, IL

Background: Innkeeper's Fresh Roasted Coffee is a renowned roastery and coffeehouse in Galesburg, Illinois. Founded in 1998 by owners Mike Bond and Johan Ewalt, Innkeeper's is committed to roasting only the finest coffee beans from small plantations throughout the coffee growing world. The coffeehouse specializes in estate and single-origin (region) coffees, roasted by hand in small batches of 30 pounds or less. Small batch, artisan roasting guarantees the freshest, most perfectly roasted coffee. The owner's philosophy is to bring to their customer the very best products and value that the world has to offer.

Entrepreneurial Business: After years of working in the retail and culinary fields in metropolitan areas across the country, Mike and Johan moved back to their hometown to open this bed and breakfast. Shortly after, they became passionate about specialty coffee while assisting Doug and Tanya Bond with the opening of their San Francisco Coffee Roasting Company in Atlanta. Mike and Johan decided to open their own roastery. The original intent was to sell Innkeeper's coffee wholesale to other innkeepers. A small retail establishment was opened at the same time.

The first Innkeeper's Coffee was a small Victorian storefront. Mike and Johan were the only employees and served the growing number of patrons seven days a week. In 2003, a new store was built a few doors north of the old store. The new store is 3500 square feet with a full pastry shop and increased space for a coffee house and retail areas. The retail inventory is an ever-evolving array of items hand selected by Mike and Johan from gift shows across the country. They now employ 34 people.

The name, Innkeeper's, stems from the owners' other line of business. Just a few blocks from the roastery and coffeehouse, Mike and Johan operate a bed and breakfast. The home featured on the front of every bag of Innkeeper's coffee is the Fahnestock House, an historic home in its own right and the location of their bed and breakfast.

Exceptional Nature: Mike and Johan have learned to eliminate those things that are not proven winners and focus instead on the products that are real winners with their customers. For example the demand for their coffee continues to grow and they have expanded their food selection, which is one of the fastest growing components of the business. They have also made Innkeepers a "gift" destination. The store features a variety of unique gifts and collectables.

Mike and Johan know what their niche is – perfectly roasted coffee in a unique coffee house. They believe in establishing a relationship with their customers – they are here for their customers. They have had the same ones from 11 years ago and are adding new ones every day. They desire to be a world class business and are committed to take the time and make the sacrifices to make it so.

Mike and Johan believe you need to make sure you talk to your customers and see what they want. That is why their menu is never the same and changes every month. They believe you should make sure you are financially able to start and maintain your business. Be passionate about it and be ready to work harder than you have in your life.

Mike and Johan offer more than this advice – they are involved in the Community Giving Program and have won numerous awards including the Bloomberg Property Improvement Award (2003), Department of Human Services (2004), Division of Rehabilitation Services Extra Mile Award to People with Disabilities (2004) and listed on "The Obama Trail Attractions" by the Chicago Sun Times in 2008.