Bean Box growing tech start-up ambitions in Capitol Hill’s coffee bean row

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

Capitol Hill’s auto row was created by entrepreneurs launching start-ups, of sorts. One modern vestige of the era has made a home for a set of entrepreneurs to make their mark in history with one of the neighborhood’s new economic lifebloods: coffee beans.

Bean Box, a “gourmet coffee” subscription and gift service, has been growing its business out of the recreated auto garage next to Bill’s off Broadway.

“Capitol Hill is wildly diverse from a population and diverse from a business standpoint,” Bean Box’s Ryan Fritzky told CHS earlier this year when we stopped by for a visit to check out the coffee bean packaging and shipping operation on E Pine.

Fritzky and Matthew Berk are Seattle tech veterans who worked together at Marchex before setting out on their own to tackle the logistics of distributing fresh, small-batch beans to customers around the world. While experience with ecommerce and online optimization helps, much of the success of Bean Box is owed to sorting out how to get the best microroasters connected to customers across the country and around the world. Earlier this summer, Bean Box was managing relationships with 21 bean roasters and dealing with deliveries to the E Pine facility from anywhere between 20 pounds to 400 pounds of small batch beans. Bean Box has the process down to a two-day turnaround from microroaster delivery to outbound boxes full of small packets of the company’s latest selections. Subscriptions start at $17 a month.

Bean Box HQ is the former home of 15th Ave Garage which, yes, was located on E Pine before making way for the preservation-friendly redevelopment of the corner the shop shared with Bill’s at Harvard and Pine. The plan had been for the auto business to return and the space was mostly developed accordingly. But without more room for lifts, garage owners told CHS they decided to leave the Hill for good. Bean Box inherited a rebuilt, light industrial space and is now putting it to use taking freshly roasted coffee bean deliveries and packaging the bounty for individual consumption.

Berk and Fritzky said the opportunity for an industrial space in a neighborhood close to the roasters they want to partner with most has been the perfect launch pad for Bean Box.

“We wanted to be in the city because our partners are in the city,” Berk said. “We could have been somewhere like SoDo. Then you’re just a warehouse.”

Bean Box celebrated its second anniversary in September.

Looking ahead, holiday season will mean even busier days for the relatively new company. Last December, the company shipped 6,000 of its Bean Boxes. Other advances could be adding an option for picking your subscriptions up in person on E Pine. The sky’s the limit for Capitol Hill’s coffee bean row.

“We plan on having a big year up here,” Berk said.

Bean Box is located at 721 E Pine. If the garage door is up, stop in and say hey. You can learn more and subscribe at beanbox.co.

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2 thoughts on “Bean Box growing tech start-up ambitions in Capitol Hill’s coffee bean row

    • You’re presumably a Capitol Hill resident in the year 2016 that is viscerally offended by the concept of gourmet coffee? Seems like you are living in your own personal hell.