Most Michiganders know that Biggby Coffee originated in Michigan, but there still a good number of us who didn’t realize. So here we go…..
Biggby coffee shops have gotten so popular throughout the country over the years, that we tend to forget that the company was created right here in Michigan. To be more specific, in East Lansing.
Bob Fish and Mary Roszel met while students at Michigan State University – they were also employed at the local Flap Jack Shack on Grand River Avenue. I assume they were both coffee hounds – otherwise, what better reason could there be to open a coffee house?
They decided upon the name “Beaner’s”, and in 1995 opened their first shop in a former Arby’s location on Grand River Avenue. Word spread about this new coffee house throughout the MSU campus and soon the place was filled with students. The student popularity factor spilled over into the mainstream consciousness, and soon non-students, office workers, commuters, mom & the kids, and many others got the “Beaner fever”.
By 1999, they had opened up a couple more shops in Lansing/East Lansing and expanded even further once the new millennium hit.
For a good ten years since they opened, the owners, managers, and baristas were bombarded by customers who attempted to quietly mention that the name ‘beaner’ was not a good term to use, as it may be deemed an offensive slur. Admitting innocence and not realizing his term based on coffee beans might be disrespectful, Bob delved into some research to change the name. It was decided the best new name would be based on the big “B” in the Beaner’s logo. So beginning around 2007-2008, Beaner’s was now officially known as ‘Biggby’.
Due to the perseverance of Bob, Mary and co-owner Mike McFall, Biggby has coffee shops in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin…with more coming, I’m sure.
It’s another Michigan creation that became a national hit…..
Source : John Robinson, “Born in Michigan: Biggby Coffee, 1995“, 99.1 WFMK Blog, September 16, 2021.