Business Week Magazine

Deepa and Joe Alban on their 20-acre Kona coffee plantation in Hawaii. Joe devised a patented method of growing coffeetrees using trellises. This lets the coffee cherry, containing the seeds commonly known as beans, ripen more evenly, giving the coffee richer flavor and improved texture.

  • Who: Joe Alban, 45, and Deepa Alban, 40
  • Revenues: $525,000
  • Employees: 11
  • Old Job: Joe is an orthopedic surgeon and still practices part-time. Deepa is an artist
  • How it Started: As family and friends requested coffee from the Albans' personal stash, they kept planting more
  • Preparation: Got help from the Agriculture Dept. and joined trade groups such as the Specialty Coffee Assn.
  • Initial Investment: $50,000
  • Began In: 1997
  • Broke Even: 2000
  • Favorite Thing About Kona Joe: "Creating something that makes people say, 'Wow, that really tastes good.'"
  • Biggest Challenge: Competing with companies that don't believe in truth in labeling