A Cup of Klatch: An Inside Look into Klatch Coffee’s Family Journey

In the days of Kurt Cobain and denim-on-denim outfits, Klatch Coffee was born, a family-driven coffee adventure that has continued to captivate coffee lovers worldwide. This Los Angeles-based, family-owned, and family-operated coffee company has become synonymous with coffee excellence, science, artistry, and an unwavering commitment to quality. Klatch Coffee is more than a brand; it's a testament to the Perry family's passion for coffee, their innovative "peak of flavor method," and their dedication to values that prioritize people and the planet. As we dive into their world, we'll hear from the Klatch team themselves on how each family member's unique role contributes to their sought-after coffee experience, their journey of lifelong learning, and any Klatch Coffee adventures that lie ahead. So, grab your favorite mug and join us on this flavorful journey through Klatch Coffee's story, values, and dreams for the future.

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Could you take us back to the beginning of Klatch Coffee in 1993? What's the story that laid the foundation for this incredible journey?

(The following is a narrative from the Klatch Coffee website, which details the inspiration, and the early days, behind the company. We've included excerpts here, but encourage you to read the whole thing!)

In 1993, Mike Perry was 30 years old. He’d dropped out of college at 18 because he was working construction and enjoying it.

"At the time, I was making good money, sixteen bucks an hour back then,” Perry recalls. “Life was pretty good. I decided why not take a semester off.” Twelve years later he had a wife and two young girls and the proceeds of a successful construction company he’d just sold. Perry went back to school to study biochemical engineering, in part to set an example for his daughters, Heather and Holly. But he quickly realized, not working, that his money wasn’t going to last. He considered dropping out yet again.

Then Perry had another idea: coffee. With two young kids, Mike and Cindy didn’t have the time or energy to go to bars or nightclubs, so they had started going to coffee shops for weekly date nights. They loved the ambiance and would have a coffee or cappuccino and a dessert. So the thought occurred to them, “You know what? We could open up a coffee house....We love everything about it, and we think we could do a better job on the coffee.”

The Perrys decided to have it all: Mike would continue to pursue his engineering degree, but in the meanwhile, the Perrys would also engineer a new and better coffee house. As they considered what to name it, Cindy remembered her grandma getting together with her friends for a “coffee klatch", Dutch for coffee and conversation.

“That is what it was all about, having coffee, talking to friends,” Mike said. “And getting things going.”

Thus was born Klatch Coffee, and thus began a journey to some of the best coffee the world has ever known.

If you’ve ever been out and about, suddenly had an urge for coffee, and used your phone to help satisfy that urge, you know the gravitational force that drew Perrys in: “Coffee near me.”


The first Klatch coffee house opened in Rancho Cucamonga at the site of a former winery. Klatch was an immediate hit. Four years later, in 1997, just after Mike graduated with a degree in biochemical engineering from UC Riverside, Klatch opened up a second shop in San Dimas. One day around this time, Mike got what would prove to be a fateful call from a friend.

“Hey Mike, you are into coffee, right?” the call began. It turned out his friend had just bought a coffee roaster and didn’t know how to use it. He thought Mike might be able to figure it out.

“I don’t know if you know anything about engineers,” Mike said, recalling this moment. “But the problem with engineers is we can do anything.”

Mike went to the manufacturer of the roaster, in Idaho, to learn how to roast. But that wasn’t enough. “Kind of like teaching a chef how to use an oven,” he recalled. “Nice people, bless their hearts, but they don’t teach you how to roast. They just teach you how to use a machine.” So like any good engineer, he taught himself; Klatch Coffee became one of the first coffee houses to take the flavor of coffee to another level through the exactitude of scientific method.

“I ended up actually applying what I learned in school,” Mike said. “When I would roast I would document every single variable -- time, temperature, airflow, flame -- and write them all down. And I would taste it, just like a chef tasting his food, and based on how it tasted, I would go, 'Oh, I want to go a little bit lighter next time. Or I want to do it a little bit quicker.' I'd change a variable at a time.”

Klatch had taken its coffee more seriously since its beginnings, becoming one of the nation’s first “multi-roaster” coffee houses as Mike sought out the best beans and best roasters he could find. “The problem is all of them could do something right, but they couldn't get it all right,” he recalled. Roasting his own beans unlocked a new world of possibilities for excellence. Soon Klatch had purchased its own roaster, and soon the demand for Klatch’s beans extended beyond its coffee houses and into restaurants and other coffee shops.


Once Mike Perry launched his exploration into the coffee bean, it was game on. The scientist in him, combined with his natural affinity for all things coffee, meant the Klatch was among the first in the coffee industry to take the pursuit of taste to its highest level.

“Science combined with the artistry of taste,” Mike said. “We combined the two together.”

Improving roasting was only the beginning. “I wanted to get even better coffee, and I said, 'How can I get better coffee?'” Perry recalled. He realized that to further refine taste meant going to the source. On his first trip, to Costa Rica, he began to understand that two layers separated most coffee houses from control over the quality of their beans: first the importer, then the people in other countries representing growers.

“I'm buying one coffee,” Mike said. “But this guy where the mill is, he represented 100 different farmers. And they were all a little bit different.' And I started tasting it and thinking, 'Wow, there's other great coffee out there!' I realized at that point that to get better coffee I had to go to the source. And that's how we started our direct trade model of sourcing coffee.”

Mike has been circling the globe ever since. Before direct trade was a buzzword, Mike was living it. He went straight to the growers themselves. Klatch became one of the first artisanal coffee houses with its very own “green buyer,” as coffee hunters are known in the trade.

As Mike developed relationships with farmers the world over -- with monthly trips to areas in Africa, Central and South America, and Indonesia -- his knowledge extended from roasting to buying to the exact terrain and particular care exerted in each individual picking. He learned where the best coffee in the world was, down to the square hectare, and who was best at producing it.

“Coffee near me,” in this context, isn’t just about an internet search. It’s about a quest to understand every aspect of coffee, from soil to bean to cup, in order to make the best coffee possible. Mike Perry has taken this quest to its farthest-flung and most local extremes. He’s created a coffee company that offers to bring the best in all things coffee near you.


Mike says, "Now we are highlighting the varieties, the farmer, the specific micro-lot, where we are being able to tell that story. And people can taste the difference. That is the best part of it; it's not just marketing, it's not just a story -- it's really more about the taste.”

Family-owned and operated – it's a powerful concept! How do your individual roles and personalities harmonize to create the Klatch Coffee experience?

It took time to get to this point, but sometime in the last 30 years we figured it out. What allows us to harmonize, is we all have the same goal, we’re working towards the same mission which is providing great coffee through all avenues of our business.  We all have different interests and strengths which helps us to accomplish that.  Mike oversees the green buying and roasting, Holly the retail, and myself (Heather) the ecommerce and marketing.

Quality is clearly part of Klatch Coffee’s DNA. Can you walk us through how you source top-notch coffee beans and ensure they meet your standards?

This is where Mike and being a little smaller really sets us apart. The coffee and conversation that we talk about is not just with our customers, but starts with the relationships we build with the producers. I think what makes this industry so unique is so often when Mike is down cupping with a producer, there are always additional coffees on the tables, and they usually come from a producers friend, they wanted to share their coffee. And it is those opportunities that really give us the chance to share some unique coffees with our customers. When Mike goes to origin for coffee I describe him as a kid in a candy store, if he finds something he likes he buys it, regardless how the small the lot might be or how many other coffees we are already purchasing. This year we have 13 geishas! I think the variety that we provide allows us to provide a totally unique experience to our customers.

You talk about the "peak of flavor method." Could you break down what that means in practice and how it adds that exceptional touch to your coffee?

Peak of flavor method is what Mike created when he started roasting. There were no real classes or instructions at the time, so he created a three-step method: experiment, document, taste. It the taste piece that our peak of flavor is based on. On a cupping table a coffee can have so many beautiful flavors. How do we best roast that coffee to share all those flavors with who is going to be drinking that coffee?

In a family-led business, brainstorming must take on a whole new dimension. How do you collaborate creatively and make decisions that reflect each family member's input?

We really respect each other and let the person who is best for the job lead the conversation and support them as best we can.

Lifelong learning seems to be a core value at Klatch! How do you foster an environment of learning and growth within the company?

First off we never stop learning ourselves. We are constantly pushing ourselves to see what’s next, how we can be better, and what we should be doing differently. We also don’t teach everything at once. If you come to one of our retail stores, the first year is a learning journey. We don’t just teach coffee, we want people to walk away from their time at Klatch with life skills they can take to their next job, whatever that may be. We also make sure we are creating opportunity for learning and growth. For our 30th anniversary, we are having each of our seven stores create a drink that they will serve at our Coffee Crawl to celebrate our anniversary. There have been some amazing ideas and drinks put out there by our team so far, and I can’t wait to see what the final products are.

What's brewing on the horizon for Klatch Coffee? As you reflect on your incredible journey, we're all curious to know – what exciting coffee adventures, innovations, or dreams do you have in store for the future?

Who knows! Top priority for us is to make sure we create an environment where every day we want to come to work in the pursuit of great coffee. 


From '90s grunge to today's coffee culture, Klatch has remained a steadfast icon, offering a robust blend of artistry and science. This journey isn't just a glimpse into their past; it's a testament to their enduring spirit and an exciting preview of what's yet to come! So, whether you're a seasoned Klatch fan or new to the scene, join us in raising your favorite mug high and toasting to Klatch Coffee – where the past, present, and future of coffee excellence converge.