Beacon Coffee Roasters

Sierra Holmes  |   Monday Jul. 1st, 2024

Patrick and Sarah Flemming started their dream of opening a coffee company back in 2020 when they decided that the nine-to-five lifestyle wasn’t for them. So the couple decided to take a leap of faith and buy what we now know to be Beacon Coffee. They both knew they wanted to do something that would make a positive impact on the Bozeman community, which had poured so much love into them throughout their lives. So when life threw them the opportunity, they took it, and decided to create a space where the whole community can feel welcomed and enjoy a cup of coffee. I recently sat down with them for a delicious cup and a delightful chat.

Sierra Holmes: What made you want to start Beacon Coffee Roasters?

Patrick Flemming: International Coffee Traders had been around since the early 2000s, so twenty-three years now, and we are actually the third owners of this company. We bought it pretty much right when Covid started, and having to get used to everything during that time was hard. Because, at the time, we weren’t only new business owners, we were also trying to carry on a name; in doing so, we were also trying to shine a light in the community, which is the reason we wanted to start Beacon. We wanted to be a light to our community and bring joy to the place we call home.

SH: What does the new name Beacon mean to you? What inspired the name change?

PF: We had always said we wanted to be a beacon of light. We both grew up here and Bozeman has always been our home. We did move away for just a short stint for college, but we came back after just one semester and graduated from MSU. Bozeman is just a really personal, special place for us and we’ve always said, ‘be a beacon of light in the lives of others,’ so that’s where the [name] Beacon came from.

Sarah Flemming: And it’s not even necessarily just light. It’s joy and happiness as well. We ask ourselves every day how we can create an environment where anybody who walks in our door feels like their day is better. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish, and we wanted that to be represented in our name.

SH: Did you always know you wanted to start a business? Were you expecting to open a coffee shop together?

SF: No, not at all, not even a little bit. Patrick had been working in IT and had been in that industry for quite a while. Before that, he worked at the Gallatin Valley Food Bank while I homeschooled our two kids, but it was hard because while me and the kids had such freedom over our schedules, he was tied down to the nine-to-five lifestyle. We would always joke about how fun it would be to own a coffee shop because we had always been coffee geeks. Then, when Covid hit and our lives got turned upside down, we decided to just go with it and take the leap of buying International Coffee Traders. We had no background in business, though. We never intended to own a business; it just came with the timing for us and we jumped on it. Overall, we just evaluated where we wanted to be in life, and we felt more fear from the idea of missing out on what we wanted our life to be rather than the fear of jumping into a business we had no idea about.

SH: Have you both always had a passion for coffee?

SF: We’ve always loved coffee. We owned all the coffee makers before becoming owners of a coffee shop, and we always liked trying new coffee things, but as far as the roasting aspect, or ever running an espresso machine, we had no experience in [doing that]. In the beginning it was so much new information for us that it was a little overwhelming—but also fun, because we got to dive into learning about something we love.

SH: What would you both like customers to experience when they walk through your doors?

PF: I would say I want them to experience a smile. Because that’s our main focus here, to spread joy and happiness to the community that we love so much.

SF: To add to that, life is so busy. I feel like there’s so much rush and chaos in the world that I love that we get to be a space where people can come in to take a breath, relax, and grab a cup of coffee with their friend(s). We want customers to experience a place where they can pause and relax for a while, and experience the joy of a cup of coffee.

SH: Are there any house favorites on the current menu?

PF: We have a pretty solid chai fan base, so I would say that is the number one drink that people keep coming back for, but we have some pretty popular lattes as well. Our Bee Sting, for example, is one of our signature drinks that customers love. Besides drinks, customers love the paninis and the cookies. We make everything in-house and have a full commercial kitchen, so we’re able to do a lot there.

SH: Where is your coffee sourced?

PF: The roasting and the coffee sourcing part of things is my favorite aspect of the business, for sure. I have personally gotten to visit a lot of these farms, which is another great aspect of the job and helps me to know that we’re sourcing our beans from ethical places. I mainly work with two to three individuals that help me source coffee and get me connected with farmers. Then, through them, I get to meet the farmers. Our coffee is sourced from multiple locations including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, and others. Specifically, there is a farm called Hacienda La Minita in Costa Rica that has grown a lot over time, and I have gained a lot of connections through them in places all around the world. This is so great because I know that I am getting good coffee and supporting good people. I know that the beans I buy are probably too expensive sometimes, but I am really proud of the farms that we support and how we source our coffee here.

SH: What do you personally enjoy most about being part of the Bozeman community?

SF: It’s home. It’s where both of us grew up. I don’t really see us ever living anywhere else, and we love the community so much. We actually moved to Minnesota for nine months or so at the beginning of college and missed Bozeman so much that we came straight home. We just didn’t fit in in a big city. There’s too much hustle and bustle for us, so we decided that Bozeman would be our forever home. We love the mountains and all the fun things that come along with living here, so it felt easy to come back home to the amazing community that we love.

SH: Is there anything exciting on the horizon for Beacon Coffee?

PF: We’re selling our beans online now, which is really exciting. We also have another roasting facility, which allows us to sell bigger quantities for customers. And if people are looking to learn more about the farmers we are partnered with, our website, is now set up to tell you all about them, which is another great upgrade we’ve made recently. Other than that, we are still the same company we’ve always been.

Beacon Coffee is centered around the idea of being a light to one’s community and spreading joy wherever you go. Patrick and Sarah exemplify this idea through their love for Bozeman, coffee, and the community they were raised in. They both truly seek positivity in everything they do, and want to bring the people of Bozeman together through their shared love of coffee.   

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