Fast-growing Bizzy Coffee has signed a lease and plans to move its operations from a northeast Minneapolis food incubator to Brooklyn Center by the end of the month.
The three-year-old company — which bottles organic, cold-brew coffee shots — is leasing and building out 7,000 square feet of manufacturing space in an industrial park. Bizzy Coffee, which sells online and in 1,000 food stores nationwide, is growing 50 percent a month and needs the room to keep up with demand, said co-founder Andrew Healy.
“We are slated to move in there and expect to start producing coffee in August,” Healy said. “We are very motivated. Sales have been moving so fast that we have a tight deadline.”
The company, now Amazon.com’s largest cold-brew coffee seller, also markets its bottled coffee concentrate via two large Midwest and West Coast distributors and in Hy-Vee, Fresh Thyme and Natural Grocers stores. In addition to tiny shots of black, vanilla or caramel coffee, Healy and co-founder Alex French recently introduced a 32-ounce bottle of Bizzy Coffee concentrate. That’s on shelves at Kowalski’s, Lunds & Byerlys and food co-ops such as Mississippi Market, Seward Co-op and Lakewinds Food Co-op.
Separately, the company is working to expand in the “food service” arena, which could include restaurants, stadiums or vending machines, Healy said.
Not bad for two guys who discovered coffee shots while training for the World’s Toughest Mudder extreme race. At the time, the two had started some side businesses, but had full-time corporate jobs. They had an idea on how to make coffee shots better — and sell them. After becoming a semifinalist in the 2015 Minnesota Cup, they were accepted into the Food-X accelerator program in New York City. In 2016, it was part of the inaugural class of the local Techstars Farm to Fork accelerator.
The growth has been exciting, they said. But it also means the company was quickly outgrowing its northeast Minneapolis roots, where Bizzy Coffee first launched inside a food incubator building in 2015. It took over space that was previously used by a cheese-making tenant. It adapted some of the equipment and business slowly took off.
The new factory in Brooklyn Center is being laid out to Bizzy Coffee’s specifications. It is double the size of the initial incubator site and will be large enough to warehouse coffee beans imported from South and Central America and provide manufacturing space.
The company has applied for a $273,300 Minnesota Investment Fund loan to help with equipment purchases. The Brooklyn Center City Council gave its approval toward the loan on June 25. Now, it’s up to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
If it gets the loan, Bizzy Coffee will use the money to buy large brewing, mixing and holding tanks plus some automated manufacturing equipment, French said. If the loan doesn’t come through, the company will have to ask its handful of investors for more money.
City officials in Brooklyn Center said they are optimistic about Bizzy Coffee’s chances for the state’s loan — and for the prospect of new jobs and a new manufacturing facility, said Meg Beekman, the city’s community development director.
Bizzy Coffee now has five full-time workers plus six-part time employees. It plans to add 23 workers in two years and expects to have 50 workers in four years, Beekman said. French and Healy said their coffee shots are a versatile product that can be a grab-and-go drink or used at home, with home users mixing them into shakes and other beverages.
Lauren Mehler Pradhan, founder and managing director of the Grow North entrepreneurial food-promotion group, said Bizzy Coffee’s main competitor is the 5-Hour Energy and Red Bull energy drink slot more so than Starbucks or Caribou Coffee.
“So they are positioning themselves as a brand that can disrupt the 500-pound gorilla of the 5-Hour Energy drink market,” Mehler Pradhan said.
To battle big-name competitors, Bizzy Coffee will want to get its products onto retail shelves inside college campuses, sports stadiums and convenience stores, she said.
The fledgling company has had a strong following and support from Minnesota food gurus, so it’s rapid growth has been fun to see.
“Bizzy Coffee is a wonderful testament to this town,” Mehler Pradhan said. “They were supported through the Minnesota Cup and Techstars Farm to Fork and [its director] Brett Brohl. So they have really capitalized on the resources of this town to accelerate their growth. They saw that offering cold brew, coffee and convenience was a big trend and they wanted to capitalize on that. So Bizzy Coffee has discovered a way to hit on many of those trends. It’s exciting.”