Share Your Story: Barista Pro Shop & J Street Biscuit Company

Friday January 27, 2017 // By Dana Schlingman

Share Your StoryStaff Joke: Cartoon JayLike many great origin stories, this one begins with our superhero knowing exactly what he wanted and how to achieve it. I say that not because it’s true (honestly, I can’t think of any stories like that) but rather because above my desk there is a giant map of the United States with a tiny cartoon Jay exclaiming, “world domination” in all caps (despite his modest reserve, Jay humors our good natured antics). Actually, the history behind Barista Pro Shop has been a little less linear - more winding or looping to be exact.

Jen Baking SconesStarting With Scones
It all began back in 1993. Originally Jay studied economics aspiring to work on Wall Street. However, after graduating from Bucknell University, Jay decided to apply for work in Colorado. An outdoorsman at heart, he had fallen for the mountains on a previous visit. Jay found work at the Lovelander Bed And Breakfast where he soon started managing the bakery. While serving guests, Jay noticed that there was a growing demand for baked goods in cafes. He saw many shops and retail stores beginning to carry muffins and he thought there could be room in the market for the delicious scones they made at the Inn. Jay and Jen WellerWith an industrial kitchen already in place, wholesale distribution required minimal added expenditure so Jay took to the streets with a basket of scones (which to anyone who knows him now conjures a rather amusing image: a tall, intelligent man peddling scones out of a little-red-riding-hood basket). In 1994 there were only three coffeehouses in the area so the operation started small. During that time Jay met his wife Jen and together they bought the bakery business from the bed and breakfast to found J Street Biscuit Co.

Becoming A Distributor
J Street Original LogoRequiring some separation from the bed and breakfast, Jay and Jen rented a 1,500 square foot bakery and warehouse in Berthoud, CO so that they could continue to expand. By then they also carried and sold a few other products. It all started with a request for Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips. A customer tasted the chips in a J Street scone and wanted to purchase some from Ghirardelli but was unable to order directly. Could J Street Biscuit Company sell the chips to the shop? And with that question, the tiny chocolate seeds of distribution were planted. Soon Jay and Jen were able to bring on more products to meet their customer’s needs. Amidst the specialty coffee boom, they identified a gap in the industry. Many small privately owned shops wanted to offer new products but had trouble finding distributors.

 J Street Biscuit Company FloorFast Forward To The Present

Today we’re known as Barista Pro Shop (BPS), though our bakers still sport shirts with the original J Street Logo. Thanks to Jay and Jen’s shrewd leadership, BPS is a full-scale wholesale distributor with a bakery, three warehouses (a combined 20,000 square feet), thousands of products as well as resources to help customers with everything from setting up

The BPS Bakeryshop to creating custom drink recipes. With the remote warehouses, Barista Pro Shop can ship anywhere within the continental US within three days. We serve mostly independent coffeehouse all over the country.

Our business culture is relaxed but professional and everyone works hard as a team to collaborate and troubleshoot - we have fun together.Barista Pro Shop's longest standing emplyee: Al I think some of the camaraderie comes from long-standing ties. For example, Tia our Café Consultant recalls coming to the Berthoud warehouse/bakery to pick up an order of bread for the cafe where she was working at the time. “There were so many boxes I couldn’t even get into the building. Someone met me outside with my order,” she recounts. Several of our employees, like Tia, started out working for shops or businesses that BPS served. John in the CO warehouseAfter being hired, Dottie (our Operations Manager) realized that she had met Jay years earlier while working across the street from the Lovelander Bed and Breakfast at Annie’s Country Store. The little gift shop sold J Street’s scones with coffee. Barista Pro Shop’s longest standing employee, Al, remembers riding along on deliveries with his father JR, one of the bakery’s first hires.

 What’s Next?

When asked about the future, Jay and Jen say, “We think one of the fun things about the business is that we don’t know exactly what to expect. We could have never imagined the explosion of the specialty

BPS Training Cafecoffee market twenty-three years ago and we have weathered good times and bad. It’s been a roller coaster ride professionally and personally but we wouldn’t have it any other way! And we can’t wait to see what lies ahead.”

Getting To Know Jay & Jen:

 Jay and Jen WellerWhere did you grow up?  Where did you go to school?

Jay grew up in Amherst New Hampshire and went to school at Bucknell University.

Jen grew up outside of Chicago and went to school at Indiana University.

Jen's Specialty Cakes

Jay & Jen at the Kentucky warehouse opening party

Do you have any unique hobbies, talents or experiences?

Jay - Tracking and photographing moose

Jen - We have fostered over 200 dogs in our home

What do you like to do when you’re not working? Weller Dogs

We love to travel and spend time with our families and our seven dogs.

Family? Kids? Pets?

We have seven dogs, they are our babies.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you be and why?

Jay - Italy for the food, wine and beautiful scenery

Jen - Lamar Valley Yellowstone to watch the amazing wildlife

What do you like most about your job or about BPS?
Joy & Jen in the Bakery

Watching our business grow and change.

What sage advice would you give someone else looking to start a business like yours:

We feel like diversification is very important whether it be the types of customers you serve, the vendors you partner with or the locations you serve. Believe it or not, we don’t recommend that BPS be your only supplier.  

What products would you recommend from the BPS catalog and why?

We love all of our bakery products. The bakery is still near and dear to our hearts because it’s how we got started.

Anything else you would like to add?

We feel we are very fortunate to be able to do what we love every day and watch our business evolve and grow thanks to our fabulous staff, customers and vendors.

Welcome ! Remember that any order of $1750 or more qualifies for free shipping, and that you will receive at least a $50 rebate towards freight if you spend more than $750.