Seven years ago when Kenny Fletcher and his wife set out to purchase a small business, they didn’t know exactly what would be in store. But, when they came across an ad for a small, craft coffee shop and roaster in Vancouver, they decided to check it out.
It was soon obvious that this was the business for them. So, their journey into the world of coffee and business ownership began with Paper Tiger Coffee Roasters, and now they’re celebrating their success with the opening of their second location, a drive-thru only located at 1000 Grand Blvd., in Vancouver. The Paper Tiger drive-thru will open for business on Saturday, April 7.
The drive-thru location was just previously home to Jena Coffee, and before that, Pines Coffee. Pines Coffee now has a permanent, full-café location in The Mill shopping center on East Mill Plain Boulevard.
Fletcher and his team have been through many ups and downs over the years, but they’ve steadily grown through it all.
“We have been able to slowly grow and now, are beginning to flourish,” Fletcher said. “We had a flood a few years ago, and deeply considered quitting at that point. We were burglarized last year, and the whole community rallied around us, solidifying in our minds, that we should indeed keep going. Now we are at a point where growth is needed.”
Fletcher shares that in 2016, business grew almost 20 percent over the previous year. The company also supplies 15 other entities with coffee, including Espresso Elegance in Seattle, the largest espresso catering company in the country. Currently, Paper Tiger Coffee Roasters has seven employees and will add another one soon. While their original location is thriving, there simply is no ability to add a drive-thru to it. Their new location will bring huge exposure, and it’s a spot Fletcher has been eyeing for many years.
“From the time we purchased and opened Paper Tiger, we thought the location on the corner of Mill Plain and Grand Boulevard would be a perfect spot for us to expand to,” he said. “We have seen four other coffee shops come and go at that location, but still feel Paper Tiger is the only one who can make it successful. We will be able to stock it from our main shop, and shift employees from one spot to the other depending on customer flow each day.”
Paper Tiger Coffee Roasters has not only become known for their great coffee, but also for their work with the deaf community in Vancouver. Fletcher works closely with the Washington State School for the Blind and the Washington School for the Deaf to train students to roast and brew coffee. There are only a handful of coffee shops in the world that employ deaf baristas and Paper Tiger is honored to be one of them.
Fletcher is proud of the quality that he provides coffee lovers each day, too.
“We’ve developed multiple flavoring options available nowhere else, like our Black Currant and Spiced Almond Cookie syrups,” he said. “Each one offers the taster the chance to experience something totally new that enhances the coffee experience, rather than covering up the taste of the coffee.”
Some of their signature items include the house-made Chai, the Mayan mocha and the Black Currant latte. The future is wide open for Paper Tiger Coffee Roasters and Fletcher is always strategizing how to grow and better serve the community.
“We have our strategies in place and are working towards what we believe to be in in our best interest,” Fletcher said. “But we know that we can be blindsided by possibilities at any moment, and we know we will be ready, because we are constantly preparing for our next move. Be that the one we have planned for, or the one that comes from out of nowhere.”
Paper Tiger’s main location is at 703 Grand Blvd., in Vancouver.