Ken Julian, founder and CEO of Julian Coffee Roasters in Zionsville, has one central goal for his coffee business – to change the world.
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” Julian says.
Julian worked in medical sales for eighteen years, and while he enjoyed it, he wanted something to call his own. A self-proclaimed foodie and coffee connoisseur, he explored options related to those interests.
He opted for the coffee business, starting Julian Coffee Roasters in 2004 from scratch on the west side of Indianapolis while working at Medtronic.
Not long after he started the roastery, Julian and his wife Lorrie purchased Eagle Creek Coffee Company in 2006. The cafe, a high-volume establishment in downtown Zionsville, helped the roastery flourish and allowed Julian to officially leave the medical field.
The couple also operated the cafe at Traders Point Christian Church from 2007 to 2017. In 2007, Julian also opened an Eagle Creek location in the Fort Harrison area.
While operating the cafe was fun, it was hard work. Julian closed the east-side location in 2009, and sold Eagle Creek Zionsville in 2012. In early 2012, he moved the roastery to a Zionsville business suite that includes all of his roasters, a production facility and a storage area.
Since then, Julian has expanded into two other suites, now filling 6,000 square feet with two state-of-the-art Loring coffee roasters, a Brew Bomb cold-brew maker, and plenty of coffee.
Julian’s vision for his business has changed through the years. His goal as a young man was to be successful and make as much money as possible. After joining Traders Point Christian Church and becoming more involved with his family, he took his first mission trip to Panama twelve years ago.
To say the trip changed his life’s trajectory is an understatement.
“It was eye opening,” Julian says. “It really opened up my own heart as far as wanting to help others.”
Julian and his fellow missionaries worked with an indigenous tribe on a coffee plantation. They helped provide clothing, education and health care for impoverished locals. Julian was so moved by his trip that he insisted on bringing his wife and young children back the very next year.
“It was a good moment for us as a family,” Julian says. “It helped change their perspective, and made them very compassionate and giving. We immediately started supporting the mission through our church cafe. As we grew, the idea of giving back locally and globally became huge for us.”
He started donating coffee locally to Wheeler Mission, and has done so for years.
With a heart for other nations, Julian also began supporting the Micah Project, a nonprofit organization in Honduras. His business also supports Africa Outreach USA and Global Game Changers.
Julian says the heart behind his business is what sets him apart as a roaster.
“The difference is the fact that we are giving back,” Julian says. “That’s our heart and our purpose. We share our success with others, both locally and globally.”
Julian Coffee Roasters, a purveyor of USDA certified organic products, provides wholesale coffee to many coffee shops, several colleges, and retailers like Sam’s Club and Costco.
The coronavirus crisis increased the company’s online orders significantly, but many of Julian’s accounts, particularly colleges, stopped completely. Many coffee shops without drive-through services shut down as well, driving Julian’s sales down to 40% of what they normally are, and forcing him to lay off four people.
“We have since brought everyone back on,” Julian says. “We made it through the worst. My goal is to definitely continue to grow, finding additional retail opportunities and launching our canned cold brew in the next few months. We’ll keep being as involved as we can in the community.”
Julian Coffee Roasters won the award for America’s Best Cold Brew Nitro at a 2019 Coffee Fest event. They also won a U.S. and Canada roasting competition eight years ago that offered the winner a tour of coffee-growing regions in India.
This trip was right up Julian’s alley, both as a coffee roaster and as a man passionate about global causes.
“We do direct trade whenever we can,” Julian says. “We have coffee from all around the world, and we are always bringing in new coffees.”
Business remains steady, and Julian is always on the lookout for more opportunities to have an impact.
“Ultimately, when you pass away it’s not about how much coffee you sell,” Julian says. “It’s about your impact locally and globally. That’s our heart and our purpose.”
Julian Coffee Roasters is located 10830 Bennett Parkway in Zionsville. For more information and to place an order, visit juliancoffee.com or call 317-247-4208.