University of Minnesota Duluth



Eric Faust's love of all things coffee led to his launching The Duluth Coffee Company, in downtown Duluth.

English Major Turns Business Owner

 

Eric Faust (B.A. 2008) makes no apologies for majoring in English or minoring in Writing Studies. On the contrary, he attributes much of his success in a competitive business to having studied the Humanities at UMD. “My studies helped me develop as a person, not just develop a skill,” he says. “It gave me confidence and versatility.” And Faust has been successful by any standards: he’s a business owner in Duluth with an impressive customer list and a retail operation that’s growing steadily.

His business? Roasting coffee for area restaurants and owning a coffee shop—The Duluth Coffee Company—in downtown Duluth.

Faust’s story begins, he says, with his love for reading books in coffee shops. When his UMD roommate Aaron Boothe (B.S. 2008) secured a UROP grant to test roasting coffee beans under varying conditions, Faust assisted in the project. They set up the experiment in their room in Stadium Apartments by using a popcorn popper to roast the beans. The story gets a little weird here: for example, they connected the popcorn-popper-turned-coffee-roaster to a laptop to record the results. The project was successful, though, and Faust’s love of all things coffee continued.

Following graduation, Faust moved to the Twin Cities and eventually had articles published in two national coffee publications, Fresh Cup and Roaster. But his dream brought him back to Duluth to work and to shape a plan to enter—what else?—the coffee business. He was eventually able to purchase a coffee roaster, which he installed in the basement of his home. Calling on local restaurants, Faust built a business as a supplier of great coffee. “Finally,” he reports, “I was getting up at 3 am to roast beans for my customers, so I decided to try to go into business for myself.”

Now he’s added a coffee shop to his roasting business. The Duluth Coffee Company, which he was able to open as the recipient of a Northeast (Minnesota) Entrepreneurship Award, is a lively place. The décor is “industrial chic,” and the roaster has moved from Faust’s home to the shop. He’s a stickler on making great coffee, and his employees undergo rigorous training. Even Boothe, his UMD roommate, comes in on Saturdays to work in the store.

Faust talks more about studying the Humanities at UMD: “I believe that studying how an abstract idea develops into an argument—something that can be talked about—has helped me in my business,” he says. As an example, he points to his love of the English romantic poets such as William Blake. “Blake had abstract ideas, but if you study them, you see that there is an argument there. This is what I mean.”

Written by Marty Sozansky, editor, College of Liberal Arts' newsletter, The CLArion. This article appeared in the Spring 2013 issue.

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