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By Lillian Boyd
On June 9, The Coffee Importers in Dana Point will celebrate its 40th year of business in the Dana Point Harbor.
The Coffee Importers was started in 1979 when Jim Miller bought the business with his wife, Michelle, and his parents, Bob and Bea.
“It was just the beginning of this whole cappuccino/espresso movement that Starbucks and Diedrich had taken on,” Miller said. “My parents were often visiting family in Denmark, where cafés were popular. They thought, ‘Why don’t we start that?’ ”
The Coffee Importers has seen several changes over the decades. Miller says it’s all about how a business adapts to how demands shift.
“We’ve changed menus, we’ve changed concepts, we’ve changed our space,” Miller said. “And our customers have continued to come sit here and enjoy a cup of coffee by the harbor.”
Miller’s hope for the coffee spot was that it would be a place of gathering for friends, family and the community. About 20 years ago, The Coffee Importers owners agreed to host “coffee chats” regularly when Bob and Pat Fairbanks of the Dana Point Civic Association approached them with the idea. The events featured community discussions with guest speakers regarding issues that impacted Dana Point. Coffee chats continue to be held monthly.
“I’m so proud of the fact that we are still growing. We’ve achieved our goal of making The Coffee Importers a gathering place,” Miller said. “It’s a testament to our business and it ingrains us in the community.”
With a harbor revitalization on the horizon, there is uncertainty as to which businesses the harbor partners will continue to lease to.
“There are a lot of ifs right now. I know just as well as the partners do that you have to make decisions for what’s best for your business,” Miller said. “We just have to continue collaborating, communicating and evolving with the harbor. I know the partners will be able to get it done; they have a great vision.”
The Coffee Importers will be selling special 40th Anniversary edition mugs in June. The café is located at 34531 Golden Lantern, Dana Point. For more information, call 949.493.7773 or visit www.coffeeimporters.com. —Lillian Boyd