From combat to coffee beans, a Nappanee veteran who once served his country overseas is now contributing to his community on a local level.
Bret Beehler, a retired Marine Corps staff sergeant of 11 years, launched The Friendly Coffee Company in March 2015. Beehler’s business offers customized branding of Arabica coffee and has aligned with nine regional nonprofits that share in the successes of the startup.
“Through my time in the military, I spent a lot of time in South America and some Middle Eastern countries, and I just really started to grasp that coffee is an international language,” Beehler said. “It’s something we all have in common and it has the ability to bring people together regardless of race, religion or background.”
“Coffee is an international language.”
Through its charity line of bagged beans, The Friendly Coffee Company donates 50 percent of all net sales to partner organizations, including the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Chicago & Michiana Five for the Homeless Inc., which provides assistance to the area’s homeless population.
The 12-oz. charity bags are priced at $15 each.
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“I’ve always, for the better part of five years now, been trying to develop a company that focuses on providing a need for our customer, but also really stays true to my values and the values of this area, of really giving back to the community,” Beehler said.
The Northwood High School graduate has partnered with his brother, Army National Guardsman Brandon Beehler, and Marine Corps infantryman Mark DeYoung, in running the 100 percent veteran-owned and operated enterprise.
Aside from its charity line, The Friendly Coffee Company also creates personalized “You” Brew brands of bagged coffee for weddings, corporate functions or individual purchases.
Bulk purchases are offered for retail resale, and talks are underway with a few notable names interested in partnering with the company for its yet-to-be-unveiled exclusive category of caffeine.
“We’re in negotiations with a couple national figures that are interested in putting out a coffee brand with us,” Beehler said. “We do have some names right now that are household names.”
For now, Friendly Coffee Company is an online operation, but Beehler hopes to have a storefront cafe by the end of summer 2015, and is eying prospective properties in southern Elkhart County.