Throughout the 1990s interest and demand for quality coffee and tobacco exploded. Large chains and independent coffee houses opened nationwide and cigar suppliers were unable to even keep shelves stocked. Boston Stoker’s espresso machine that at first sat unattached and dormant quickly became a fixture in people’s morning routine. Over the decade, six new locations were opened as well as a dedicated office and roasting facility in Vandalia, Ohio.
“By the mid-nineties, Fairborn just wasn’t able to keep up with the new demand for roasting,” Henry said. “Seeing I-70 and I-75 as a great crossroads for expanded distribution, the Vandalia location worked well. There really wasn’t anything to the building at first. We would drive up in the 86 Camaro to mow the grass and play hockey inside the building.”
This expanded roasting facility allowed for the opening of new locations inside regional gourmet grocers, Lofino’s and Dorothy Lane Markets, as well as coffee carts at the nearby Wright State University and the Nutter Center.
“It was a much different time for coffee too,” Henry said. “For second wave coffee the focus was on variety, which meant six different drip coffees available each day and shelves and shelves of flavored syrups for making the different drinks.”
With a number of different locations, branding also became an important focus. Taking inspiration from the ubiquitous Ohio State Patrol seal, the winged Boston Stoker label soon found it’s way onto coffee cups and bags of coffee.
Bags of coffee were another expansion for Boston Stoker as beans found their way into local independent grocers, IGAs, Wagner’s, Lofino’s and more. With well-established connections, Boston Stoker was the first independent coffee roaster that many of these stores ever carried.
As the wholesale business continued to develop, the Dean family remained some of Boston Stoker’s busiest employees, with the kids doing whatever they could over holiday breaks, including bagging coffee in the living room.