It’s a Michigan Thing: The History of Biggby Coffee
Got outta bed…
Dragged a comb across my head…”
So sang the Beatles…but forget the comb.
I wake up, get outta bed, and before I hit the bathroom I start a pot of coffee. Gotta have it.
That’s what most of us do at home. However, when we’re traveling and we get that urge for coffee, we look for a local coffee shop or drive-thru…and the one that many Michiganders appreciate above ‘em all is Biggby. Why? ‘Cuz Biggby was created right here in Michigan.
Yeah, Biggby coffee is a hit all thru the United States and you can thank former MSU students Bob Fish and Mary Roszel of East Lansing.
The two met while working at Flap Jack Shack on Grand River Avenue and shared tales of their passion for coffee. After casual conversation turned into a serious project, they eventually opened their first coffee shop in an old Arby’s location on Grand River.
But what to name it?
I imagine they kicked around some coffee terms: maybe like café’, java, brew, beans, caffeine, perk, aroma, cuppa, filter, demitasse, joe…they all stunk…..except for one: BEANS. They evidently liked that word, but how to use it? Well, possibly the name could encompass a term for someone who worked there…who made the coffee…ground the beans…why not refer to our employees as "beaners" and use that for the company name? Sure, why not!
So in 1995, Beaner’s made its debut. It was a campus hit. Students would congregate there for coffee, snacks, study, talk, and to hang. Beaner fever reached a point where non-students began visiting: moms, dads, commuters, business-types…and finally there were some who complained about the name. Throughout the first ten years, occasional customers would lay the guilt trip on Beaner baristas, managers, and owners:
“Hey, dude…don'cha know what ‘beaner’ means? How can you advertise like that?”
Bob & Mary had no clue what they were talking about. When they were told, they figured they had to do something before they were forced to change.....or worse, close. They loved the big ‘B’ logo and didn’t want to scrap it…so after mulling over and throwing out other possible names, it was decided to name the shop after the big "B" logo: “Biggby.”
So, beginning around 2007-2008, Beaner’s would be forever known as "Biggby." Now they have shops in well over a dozen states…and it all began in East Lansing, Michigan.
From Beaner To Biggby