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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Feb. 22, 201806:40 AM EST

Pura Bean Coffee Co. expanding into Riverside

The Jacksonville coffee roaster who started at One Spark and RAM plans to open his second store by July.
by: David Cawton Staff Writer

A local coffee roaster is expanding into the Riverside neighborhood, two years after opening a shop near the Beaches. 

Chris Diedrich, president of Pura Bean Holdings Inc., said his second Pura Bean Coffee Co. shop will open at 915 King St. in the former Yummy Crepes space. 

His first location, at 14286 Beach Blvd. at San Pablo Road, opened in July 2016. It’s in the same shopping center as The Church of Eleven22, of which he is a member.

Chris Diedrich

“We want to try to get this one open right around our two-year anniversary,” said Diedrich, who estimates the build-out will take until July. 

He said there are no major structural challenges, “just a lot of cosmetic stuff to deal with.” 

Diedrich said he signed a five-year lease for the space, owned by C by L Properties LLC. He said both stores are managed by Rettner Management. 

“We have a good relationship with them, and they mentioned they had the space available,” Diedrich said.

“I went and looked and it felt right, the layout was perfect,” he said of the 900-square-foot space. 

Demolition should begin this week and changes will cost at least $60,000. 

Diedrich said the shop will feature elements similar to the Beach Boulevard location, but he plans to instill a more “Riverside feel.”

He said he is approaching the new location’s layout a little differently, “after learning a few hard lessons the first time.” 

“If I could go back and do it all over again, I probably would’ve designed the layout to have more seating, things like that,” he said. 

While he doesn’t have a definite number, he said the Riverside shop will offer 20 to 30 seats.  

Diedrich also plans to serve beer and wine in Riverside to capture evening crowds. 

“We want to make it more of a meeting spot, somewhere people can go after work, and get more than just a coffee,” he said.  

Growing the brand

Diedrich began his coffee career as a creator at the 2015 One Spark crowdfunding festival, but said he gained the most traction after becoming a regular vendor at the Riverside Arts Market in May 2014.

He left his corporate job in 2015 to pursue the coffee business full time.

“It was my incubator,” he said of RAM. 

“When I started there, I had a full-time job in the mortgage business, and because of that exposure I was able to quit that and focus on Pura Bean,” Diedrich said.

Without the weekend food and arts market, he would not have been able to open his first storefront, he said.

“Some of the products we offered in the past just never worked out,” Diedrich said. “By being there to test them out, we figured out what worked and what wasn’t going to make it.” 

Diedrich will continue to roast his four core coffee products and his seasonal blends at the Beach Boulevard location. He also bakes breakfast pastries and makes sandwiches there.

At the Riverside shop, he said he plans to use baked products from other RAM retailers, like Flour and Fig Bakehouse and JC’s Daily Bread. 

“We want to bring in more local companies to spread the wealth,” he said. 

He’s also going to continue offering his coffee at RAM.

“It was scary opening up a coffee shop, quitting my job and doing this,” he said, but the concept caught on quickly.

Over the past year, Diedrich said sales are up 40 percent and weekends are becoming busier.

“People are starting to know we’re here,” he said. “We’re definitely more established and I think that speaks to the coffee we make and the shop’s atmosphere.” 

Local Coffee on the rise

Jacksonville has seen a rise in local coffee shops that roast their beans.

Bold Bean Coffee Roasters, Southern Grounds & Co. and Vagabond Coffee Co. are home-grown. 

Bold Bean has three locations in Riverside, Jacksonville Beach and San Marco. Southern Grounds in Neptune Beach plans to expand into San Marco, and Vagabond roasts and sells its coffee in Murray Hill. 

“Everybody has a distinct look and feel, and like beer, there are so many options,” Diedrich said.

He said the coffee and food environment in Jacksonville reminds him of the independent shops in his former home of Austin, Texas. 

“Jacksonville is becoming a foodie society and it’s only going to get better,” he said. 

As far as growth, Diedrich said he’s tempered his original plans to have five shops opened in five years. 

“Needless to say, that’s not going to happen,” he said. “Now that I’ve been doing this for a few years, I’m happy slowing down a bit.” 

Diedrich also sells coffee to retailers, including The Fresh Market, which he wants to continue and expand.

The Pura Bean brand has four year-round offerings including two single-origin coffees and two made from a blend of beans. 

If he wants to go beyond the two shops and continue selling to retailers, “we’ll have to find a space for a larger roaster, there’s just no way around it.” 

“A roasting-centric space is probably the next move,” he said. 

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