Perfect Roast: Vienna Coffee Company Celebrates 10th Anniversary
By Emily Yarborough | Special to The Daily Times
When Maryville native and University of Tennessee grad John Clark returned to East Tennessee after 15 years of working in California, one thing he brought back with him was an appreciation of a good cup of coffee. Disappointed that he couldn’t find a good coffee shop around every corner like he experienced in the San Francisco Bay area, the chemical engineer by training began roasting beans for his own use in his garage. Before long, his older brother, Mike, asked him to invest in the purchase of an already named Vienna Coffee House in Miami, Fla. As Clark increased his roasted coffee bean output to provide coffee for his brother’s shop, the idea of opening his own business took shape.
Soon thereafter, faced with still another job relocation, this time to Philadelphia, Pa., Clark decided to abandon the corporate world and become a full time coffee roaster/wholesaler, with a small retail operation on the side. On Aug. 1, 2002, Vienna Coffee Company was born.
In the ensuing 10 years, Vienna Coffee Company has grown from a one-man operation in a West Maryville garage, to a thriving company that employs 19 in two locations. Clark’s goal is to supply the very best, freshest specialty coffees available to coffee lovers throughout East Tennessee and the southeast. His company buys only the highest quality, 100 percent Arabica “specialty” grade green coffee beans directly from importers in New York, Miami and New Orleans.
The Vienna Coffee Roastery opened in its current location in January, 2005 and in spite of a tough economy, has expanded to provide wholesale coffee to more than 100 restaurants, coffee shops, grocery markets and cafes. Overall, the entire company has posted a 17 percent increase in sales over this time last year with the wholesale business providing nine percent of that growth.
An opportunity to take over the operation of an existing coffee shop in Maryville encouraged Clark to open the Vienna Coffee House in October 2010. The shop, located at 321 High St. between Maryville College and downtown, has quickly become a destination for coffee lovers area-wide and has increased sales by 44 percent over the last year. In addition to offering a full array of coffee-based drinks, teas, pastries, quiches and other treats, the location serves as a retail outlet for bags of whole bean and ground varieties of Vienna Coffee as well as gift baskets and other related items.
“I took a chance ten years ago and followed my passion to start my own coffee company,” said Clark. “Even though the economy has been tough, I’ve got terrific employees and we’ve worked hard to provide a quality product. It’s gratifying that our coffee is so well received and that demand for it is growing.”