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@Work: Kings' Caribbean Coffee


Aug 18, 2005 – When Lou Coyne decided to invest in Kings' Caribbean Coffee of St. Croix, he knew he was indulging in "a different cup of tea."
However, going off on a tangent is not new to Coyne. Coyne earned a law degree but never practiced law. He went into mortgage banking instead. While traveling across the States in the early 1990s finding out what money could be gained from selling off assets of failed savings and loan institutions, he met Michael and Charles King.
They told them about their plan to take green coffee beans from Jamaica, roast them on St. Croix and offer them to V.I. hotels, resorts and stores for fresh-brewed, quality coffee. Coyne said he liked the idea, and it appeared to him that the Kings had the right people to do the job. He invested in 1997.
In 2001, the Kings were running into some problems. Coyne, who calls San Francisco home, had just suffered the loss of his wife. He offered to come down to run the operation, located in the industrial park on Airport Road near Queen Mary's Highway.
"I came down for a couple months, and I am still here," he said.
There are a couple reasons why Coyne finds himself on St. Croix 10 months of every year and only two months "back home."
"I am 68 years old," he said. "I have lived a lot of places. This is the only place I can say I have enjoyed driving to work – the sea, the flamboyant trees – it is beautiful."
He also cited a lot of work pleasure. "I make some of the deliveries myself. It is the best way to get feedback on how we are doing." He said he enjoys talking to the customers. Kings' Coffee is sold at local resorts in the Virgin Islands and retail outlets. It has a kiosk at the Seaborne terminal on St. Croix and also is affiliated with Beans Bytes and Web sites on St. Thomas.
"Our oldest customer and biggest fan is Buccaneer Resort," Coyne said.
The company has five full-time employees. It now receives green beans from different places around the Caribbean basin as well as from Jamaica.
While most sales are still done in the Virgin Islands, the company does have a Web site. (See "www.kingscaribbeancoffee").
Some orders are filled through the mail.
"For that person sitting up in Iowa in the middle of the winter who wants to replicate their Caribbean experience, we ship," Coyne said.
When asked if he was a coffee drinker, Coyne replied, "Definitely. That is one of the reasons I was attracted to this investment in the first place."
More people are showing an interest in the Caribbean in the last few years, Coyne said, and he sees an opportunity for the company to expand. The company plans to increase its marketing and its production, he added.
The company is involved with the University of the Virgin Islands in a training program that will help residents earn employment servicing machines King Coffee has at the various resorts around the islands.
And when Coyne wants to escape, he returns to the profession that he almost practiced – he reads legal thrillers.

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