Ziggi’s Coffee first opened as a cozy cafe in downtown Longmont in August 2004. Since then, the company has grown by leaps and bounds, opening dozens of additional locations in multiple states. (Today, Ziggi’s has 75 locations and counting!)
Now, the Colorado-grown company is expanding even more: Last month, Ziggi’s announced that it will be developing 50 new locations in the greater Atlanta area—the company’s largest development deal to date.
We chatted with Brandon Knudsen, chief executive officer and co-founder of Ziggi’s Coffee’s, to learn more about this beloved coffee chain that got its start right here in Boulder County.
What’s the story behind Ziggi’s? Why did you want to open a coffee shop?
We were living in southern Oregon and Camrin, my wife and co-founder, started working for a local drive-thru coffee shop. We just fell in love with the idea of owning a coffee shop and going into business for ourselves.
We moved to Colorado and began our journey to opening our own coffee shop. Our first two attempts didn’t stick, but eventually we opened our first Ziggi’s on the corner of 4th and Main streets in Longmont and we were on our way to pursuing our dreams. Our first location was a café only and is still open and thriving today!
What did you set out to do when you first launched Ziggi’s? What were your main goals and dreams?
Our main goal was to work for ourselves—our parents were entrepreneurs, so it only felt natural and inspiring to pursue business ownership.
We had no idea it would turn into this incredibly successful franchise company. For the first several years, our only goal was to pay the bills and make ends meet. We didn’t have big growth plans, we just needed to make a living.
What does coffee mean to you personally? More broadly, what do you think coffee and coffee shops mean to people?
Personally, coffee is all about routine and connection. And this is true for people at large too. We all seek comfort and community, and this is what coffee does. Coffee is a vessel for fostering and creating relationships.
Moreso, coffee shops are a place where people can count on a positive interaction to start their day. This is something we pride ourselves on—we are here to create an authentic and positive experience that caters to our customers, giving them something to look forward to every day.
What role has Longmont played in Ziggi’s success? And Colorado more broadly?
Longmont has been pivotal in our success. They truly wanted us to succeed as soon as we opened our doors. If we had opened in any other community, we might not have made it. Longmont saw the potential we had, and they cared about us as people, and took us under their wing. The relationships we built with this town were imperative to the success of our first Ziggi’s location and set the framework for growth.
Colorado has been a huge support as well. This state really prides itself on small business ownership, so we have felt nothing but love and support as we grew throughout the state. This has also contributed to our national success, as Colorado is seen as a fun state that is proud of their local companies. We have found that entering new states is exciting because we are a successful Colorado-based company and other states like this attribute and look forward to supporting a company that was born in the wonderful state of Colorado.
How has Ziggi’s evolved over the years?
Ziggi’s has evolved into a successful franchise company, boasting primarily drive-thru locations.
The focus has always been customer service and that remains consistent across all of our locations nationwide. This is imperative to who Ziggi’s is—we were founded on providing our customers with the best possible experience every time they visit. This is a value we never want to lose sight of.
The way we were able to navigate all the changes that come with expanding our business model is by hiring really talented people who are motivated to take risks and grow a company together.
What has your entrepreneurial journey been like? What have been some of your key lessons learned or takeaways from this experience?
It has been a hard, long, slow journey. We really experience our growth and success one day, one customer and one problem at a time. The growth has been organic—the team grinds every day to leverage our experience to continue putting our best foot forward as we figure it out.
We are very methodical and authentic in the decisions that we make, really relying on our foundation to guide us in the right direction.
The best lesson I’ve learned is that you need to surround yourself with people who care about you and the business and are internally motivated.
How does Ziggi’s give back to the community?
Community is extremely important to us at Ziggi’s, as we strive to give back to those who have given us so much. We are big supporters of veterans and active-duty military members, teachers and school district staff, as well as supporting the mental health of our communities. Over the past couple of years, we have partnered with Revital, a nonprofit organization that supports the overall mental health and well-being of first responders, as well as partnering with our local National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) chapters to give back to our local communities and support the mental health of those around us.
What have been the keys to your success? What has allowed Ziggi’s to grow and thrive over the years?
We started slow and really built a foundation of understanding every part of the business. From making the coffee to bookkeeping to building layout and design to customer service, we understand this company from the ground up. We have found there is no way to fast forward to success, it is something you build through slow, steady growth.