What started as a small entrepreneurial dream, Paramount Coffee Company has become one of the highly respected and largest roasters in the Mid-west, continually striving to exceed your every expectation to deliver unsurpassed coffees to your customers.
What started as a glimmer of an idea among friends has grown into one of the largest coffee roasters in the Midwest, with ever-expanding distribution channels and relationships that span the globe. Here’s a breakdown of how Paramount Coffee Company came to be, the challenges we’ve faced and the progress we’ve made over more than 80 years.
1930s-‘40s – Out of the Great Depression Comes a Great Idea
In 1935, three ambitious young men working for a Chicago coffee company want to start a company of their own. They move to mid-Michigan and open their business in a rented building close to downtown Lansing. David Radway is one of the founders, whose family (eventually) holds full ownership of Paramount Coffee Company until the year 2000. This is a family affair, as husbands and wives work nightly to package coffees to be sold the next day. The company’s first sale is for l0 lbs. of coffee @ $.24 per pound sold to a downtown cafeteria. By the end of the first year, 14,292 lbs. of coffee are sold. The 1940s and WW2 bring challenges: coffee and gas rationing, as well as a shortage of manpower. A “Victory Blend” is created to support war efforts. Major purchases during these years include a coffee tasting table and a cuspidor (spittoon) that are still used today.
1950s-‘70s – Picking up Steam
These are exciting years for Paramount as a newly built roasting plant is completed and Paramount becomes an official importer. The company increases its product line, adds a fully functional service department and expands its distribution area to include all major Michigan markets, as well as some areas in neighboring states. A special blend of coffee – still sold today – is developed. The recipe is so secret it is kept in the safe. Even though energy crises and high inflation pose difficulties, business is strong and Paramount purchases an additional 33,000 square feet of warehouse.
1980s-‘90s – New Technologies Help Grow Business
Paramount implements advances in green coffee storage, packed coffee storage, roasting, warehousing, transportation and more. In its 50th year, the company creates Paramount Gourmet Coffee to focus on the specialty coffee segment and the retail market. Paramount is one of the first coffee companies in the Midwest to roast, flavor and sell flavored coffees. The proliferation of coffeehouses brings another new opportunity: with its 50 years of experience in blending and roasting coffees, Paramount quickly becomes Michigan’s roaster of choice for the coffeehouse and café business. Many of these businesses remain customers today. In 1990, the now-CEO, Angelo Oricchio, from San Paulo, Brazil, joins the company.
2000s – Paramount Becomes Employee Owned
A significant milestone occurs in 2000, when Paramount Coffee Company officially becomes an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan), providing for the security of employees well into the future.
During this time a new logo is introduced, capabilities for offering private label products increase and new packaging machines are purchased. The Joe Knows Coffee line is introduced and is overwhelmingly successful. A new gourmet coffee package is unveiled and Paramount makes an extremely successful entry into the branded coffee market. Its coffee products are now shipped across the country, into Canada and the United Kingdom.
Today – Still Growing!
Rich in history and passion, through good and tough times alike, Paramount Coffee Company has become one of the largest coffee roasters in the Midwest. We have a loyal following of longtime customers who have come to know and trust us to provide them, and their customers, with outstanding coffees and exceptional service.
Today, the company is led by four men who have been with Paramount Coffee Company since the early 1990s, and they have become the ideal stewards to lead Paramount into the future: Brazilian-born Angelo Oricchio is President & CEO, Robert Morgan is CIO, Rich Schaafsma is CSO, and David Epkey is CFO. These leaders – along with employees who share their dedication to product quality, service and innovation – serve as the foundation of this company and the reason Paramount Coffee Company will continue to thrive for many years to come.