Kangaroo Coffee finds unexpected success

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IMG_7512_2CCThe Lyons family was frustrated with their lack of drive-thru coffee shop options — so they decided to start their own.

Since opening the flagship Kangaroo Coffee on Fillmore Street in 2011, Rue and D.J. Lyons have opened a second location, prepared for a third and are planning shops four and five in Colorado Springs.

Rue said the idea was obvious for the couple, but one that is rarely seen these days: a drive-thru coffee shop with quick, friendly service and high quality.

“It’s not fast food,” said Rue, a New Zealand native. “I would say that might be our number one marketing issue. We have gone out of our way to get really high-quality product.”

The business uses mostly organic ingredients and contracts with a Denver-based company to roast beans to Kangaroo’s specifications.

“Our customers not only love our product; they love our customer service and they love what we represent,” she said.

Rue said that while D.J. is hands-on in the stores, training and helping with day-to-day operations, Rue spends much of her time taking care of their 5-year-old Joey and managing the company’s books at a warehouse office on Eighth Street.

Although it can sometimes mean long days and a fair amount of stress, the couple is dedicated to their business — both for their fledgling family and for the community that they quickly grew to love.

“I think that we are going to be outrageously successful here — more than we already are,” she said.

For the family

When the couple created the concept for Kangaroo Coffee, Rue was working as a therapist and D.J. as a contractor. He had always been a coffee enthusiast, and Rue loved fruit smoothies. So, with a baby on the way, they began developing a business plan that incorporated both interests while seeking fertile soil for it to thrive.

Living in Oregon at the time, the couple began traveling the country in search of a place to start the business and raise their son.

“When we came into Colorado Springs, we fell in love,” she said. “It seemed like a great place for our family — great schools, lovely people — and the community matched what we needed to start a business like this.”

Rue said the business plan was built upon creating a family-friendly place for parents and kids to get high-quality product on the go.

“We thought it would be a good way to spend more time with family,” she said.

The name Kangaroo Coffee came from a brainstorm in which D.J. was playing around with his wife’s unique name. They soon came up with Kangaroo Coffee and decided to name the kids’ menu Joey, after their first and only son.

“The name came out of a bit of family fun,” she said.

Joey is now a regular at the 8th Street location, helping employees by completing small tasks such as stamping customers’ membership cards.

Unexpected growth

The Lyons family wasn’t anticipating the warm welcome they received from the Colorado Springs community, according to Rue.

“We’re so busy — it’s never-ending,” she said. “Right now we’re just running to stay up. We’re expanding faster than we ever imagined — we’re really lucky.”

The couple thought they were on to something, but had no idea Kangaroo would be as popular or as profitable as it has become in just three years. Rue said that the company continues to see 10 percent increases in sales each month.

But despite the success, Rue said they have shied away from the idea of franchising.

“In general, we won’t be franchising to make money — that’s not the goal,” she said. “But we may let employees start new locations if they are interested.

“Whatever stores we have — whether corporately owned or if we let a crew member buy one — we’re going to want to be able to drive to it and keep the experience true for us,” she said.

Kangaroo currently employs 25 people between its two existing locations and its distribution warehouse. She said that the number of workers will likely be boosted to more than 40 when they open a new location off of Powers (3670 New Centerpoint Drive) next month. She said that the company may soon invest in creating a “coffee roasting center,” which would also increase Kangaroo’s employment.

“We want to create as many jobs here as we possibly can,” she said.

Giving back

Rue said that the company’s mission is to positively affect Colorado Springs, which led to the creation of Kangaroo Cares.

“Our goal is to impact the community on a larger scale,” she said. “Kangaroo Cares is my avenue to do that.”

The company is in the process of converting Kangaroo Cares from part of the Kangaroo Coffee company to its own nonprofit. Rue said that until the side enterprise gains 501(c)3 status sometime this year (the goal), it will continue to donate quarterly to local nonprofits and education systems.

“We feel very fortunate that we have people that care about us and have invested in us,” she said. “We want to be that person for others. … I think it is so important for all of us to be supported in our dreams, no matter what it is we want to do.”

Because it is not yet a nonprofit, Kangaroo Cares works with a different 501(c)3 entity each quarter to sponsor programs and help out in the community. So far, the business has worked with the Children’s Division of Pikes Peak Library District and the Junior League of Colorado Springs, and has arranged toy and food drives throughout its three years in business.

“I’ve been really impressed by the people I’ve connected with in this city,” she said. “Ultimately, I want this to be an avenue for us to be a bigger part of the community.”