Mich. coffee chain changes "racially offensive" name


Perv-switch toggler
Oct 3, 2004
....or maybe it was because Ned Holness demanded a royalty....

When I first saw it, I read the first paragraph and started brainstorming what it could be before reading on....
that was fun on its own...


Coffee Chain Changes Name Over Concerns It's An Ethnic Slur

POSTED: 6:28 pm EDT September 14, 2007

DETROIT -- A small but growing coffeehouse chain is changing its name amid concern that the moniker meant to celebrate the seed of its main product also is a disparaging term for Hispanics.

Beaner's Coffee, based in East Lansing, Mich., on Friday informed franchisees and employees at its 77 stores in Michigan and eight other states that it would become Biggby Coffee, effective Jan. 31.

"That just doesn't really fall within our mission to have a name that is derogatory," Bob Fish, 44, Beaner's chief executive, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "We felt it was important to do the right thing and change the name."

Fish, who co-founded the company in 1995, said there hasn't been any broad resistance or protests against the name, just people asking if the company knew about the connotation. And inquiries have grown as the company has -- particularly in the southeast U.S., where it has five locations.

Biggby, he said, allows the company to rename without rebranding -- Beaner's logo is a big black 'B' with an orange background.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term was preceded by "bean-eater," a slur against Latin-Americans, particularly Mexicans. The earliest example goes back to 1919, and the first recorded use of beaner as a derogatory term was 1965.

"The concept of referring negatively to Mexicans because of what they eat goes back a long way," said Jesse Sheidlower, an editor at large at Oxford.

"You can offend unintentionally. That beaner has a meaning within the coffee community doesn't matter if it coincidentally is the name of an ethnic slur.

"You don't want to get to the point where it looks embarrassing."

One notorious example is Sambo's, the restaurant chain that crumbled under financial problems and criticism for the stereotypes its name implied in the early 1980s.

The name of the chain, which at its height had 1,200 restaurants in 48 states, wasn't meant to be offensive. Co-owners Sam Battistone and Neil "Bo" Bohnett combined their names to create the restaurant name.

Still, the restaurateurs decorated their dining rooms with drawings from an 1899 children's story called "The Little Black Sambo." Although the setting was India, the drawings eventually transformed Sambo into a stereotype of happy-go-lucky blacks in the American South and the term was a racial stereotype by the 1920s.

By the late 1970s, the Urban League and chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York went to court to ask for an official name change.

Juan Tornoe, an Austin, Texas-based Hispanic marketing consultant, said it's clear to him and should be to anyone that Beaner's name is about coffee, not contempt. But the name change could be a smart move for a company with national aspirations: By 2050, nearly a quarter of the U.S. population will be of Hispanic heritage.

"If you want to get that piece of the pie, you have to cater to them now," Tornoe said. "You have to be sensitive to the things that they hold close to their hearts."

James Maher, an analyst who covers coffee retailing giant Starbucks Corp. for San Francisco-based ThinkEquity Partners LLC, is only vaguely familiar with Beaner's. But he sees the name change as more of a necessity than marketing opportunity.

Maher said Beaner's is one of many regional players in the highly competitive coffee scene operating in the shadow of Starbucks, which has 9,000 U.S. stores and 14,000 globally. It opens a store every three hours on average, he said.

In fact, there is a steep drop between Starbucks and Caribou Coffee Co., which has about 480 stores in the U.S. He said one regional player worth watching is Peet's Coffee & Tea Inc., with 150 shops nationally but most in California.

"It's just been a tough business for somebody to acquire a real good franchise and consistently make money, other than Starbucks and Peet's," Maher said. "In terms of executing and developing a real strong following ... it's very difficult."

Despite its small stature, Fish said Beaner's has bucked the trend: It reported systemwide sales of $22 million last year, and projects more than $30 million this year. The company's growth rate has doubled every two years and it plans to have 300 shops within five years, he said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


I'm Gonna Be The Bestest Pilot In The Whole Galaxy
Jun 1, 2005
Is there any way we can use this to stop Mencia? Have you ever seen a Beaner grind coffee beans?


El hombre de los moleculos!
Dec 8, 2004
I drove by one of those places the other day, and almost stopped and took a picture.

I do that from time to time. My favorite, a chinese carryout place called "Takee Outee".
Feb 5, 2003
I know the troubles that coffee chain is facing. I've been trying for years to raise more money for my own business, but nobody wants to invest in an armor repair company called Chinks.


I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
Well, I'd better throw out my Spic and Span

CM Mark

The East is Ours!
Apr 13, 2005
but but but, does this mean that Big Momma's Grubb House on 6th street in Philly will have to change their name too?


Sep 27, 2006
but but but, does this mean that Big Momma's House of Grubb on 6th street in Philly will have to change their name too?

dude there are 8 people that will find this fucking hysterical!!!

I have tears coming out of my eyes



Sep 27, 2006


Part of the Ronnie B. crowd
Jan 6, 2006
yes but you cant get burgers or chinese food in a kennedy fried chicken, it doesn't get much more ghetto than crown


New Wackbag
Oct 10, 2004
There's a lubricant for power tool bits they sell in home depot: Jigaloo. Get it? It lubricates your jigs.

izzy izkowitz

Chris Hansen is my hero
May 23, 2007
Just before I moved away from wisconsin they opened up a beaner's in the city I lived in. I just thought it was a spic that was comfortable in his own beanerness. I had a friend that was half german and half mexican when I was growing up and we all called him the beaner. I guess it just some dummy that didn't know what a beaner is.