When it came time for DiAne Benzie and her husband, Chris, to name their coffee business, the choice was a no-brainer.
“My maiden name is LeBreux,” Benzie said. “It’s pronounced LeBrew.”
The Apex couple opened LeBrew Coffee Cafe at the State Fairgrounds in 2008.
“It was a two-year experiment to see if we liked the coffee business,” Benzie said. “We loved it, but it was too hard to do it well and work full time at our corporate jobs.”
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They closed the cafe in 2010, but Benzie struggled to let go. “We had a great experience with the coffee cafe, and I loved the name – I’ve had it since birth.”
Then she got an idea.
“I called my husband and told him my concept for a fundraising business built around coffee,” Benzie said.
He bought into the idea, and LeBrew Coffee Fundraising was launched last year.
LeBrew offers fresh-roasted coffee with custom labels for schools, churches, community organizations and nonprofit groups nationwide.
“What sets us apart is the custom-branded coffee for each organization,” Benzie said. “I design the label and send the organization a sample. When the label is placed on packaging, it is exactly what they want.”
She said the label also reinforces name recognition.
“Each time the supporter reaches for the bag, they are reminded of the organization they are supporting,” she said.
The coffee is shipped within 24 hours of being roasted, Benzie said. “It’s very, very fresh. On a hot day, you know the coffee is there before you open the mailbox.”
Groups earn 41 percent of the sales and pay no fees. The coffee can be shipped anywhere free of charge.
“We call it the Aunt Tilly-Topeka model,” Benzie said. “If you live in New York City and Aunt Tilly lives in Topeka, she can still buy coffee from you and not pay extra to have it delivered.”
Locally, several high school marching bands and the North Carolina Special Olympics are among the groups that are using LeBrew for their fundraising campaigns.
“The fundraising world is receiving less funding from municipal sources,” Benzie said. “Groups need to fundraise on their own, and they need something unique.”
She also has customers in several other states.
The company’s success has allowed Benzie to leave her corporate job and focus full time on LeBrew. She recently hired a virtual social media specialist to help increase LeBrew’s online footprint.
“I am very passionate about coffee,” she said. “I want to help as many nonprofits as possible reach their fundraising goals.”
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