The Big Bean Coffee House

The Big Bean | | 558 Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, Severna Park | 410-384-7744 | 888 Bestgate Road, Ste. 110, Annapolis | 410-216-2911

Christie Coster worked at The Big Bean in Severna Park for five years, but it was more than just a job. It was part of her life. She missed it when she moved out of state. “I always wanted to come back,” says Coster, who lived in New Mexico for a decade. “When I left here, I felt part of me was missing. When I moved back, the owner and a close friend let me work for a few days a week.”

In 2010, during her second stint at the shop, she met Greg Coster, a customer, and they started dating. Two years later, they got married and eventually ended up buying The Big Bean in January of 2019.

“Customers don’t believe it, but they love it,” says Christie, referring to this fortuitous turn of events. “For me, it’s a fairy tale. It was unfinished business.”

Many times during the day, the shop is packed, which offers about 35 different coffees as well as smoothies, and superfood lattes among other drinks. The breakfast cookie with cranberries and walnuts is the most popular food item.

“The original owner and her husband were ready to retire,” Christie says. “We felt we could continue their 20-year tradition. I always dreamed about buying this place.”

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One of the first things the Costers did was double the seating capacity on the back deck, add a fire pit, and they now offer live music mostly year-round on Saturdays in the late-fall and winter.

With the success of the Severna Park store, the Costers decided to open an Annapolis location off of Bestgate Road in June of 2020.

We recently talked to the Costers about what makes The Big Bean standout from the competition, what their top-selling coffees are, and their approach to hiring staff.

Greg, tell us about the type of coffee you sell?

We offer everything from single origins, which is from one place. We sell Ethiopian, Columbian, Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Sumatran. All our coffees are called certified specialty coffee. It’s the highest grade of coffee you can buy. They are all certified organic as well.

What about blended coffees?

We also get involved with coffees that are blended. Say a Brazilian coffee is blended with an Ethiopian. We put our stamp on those blends and give them names unique to our business. One thing we are most proud of is Tom’s Trailblazer blend. It’s named after a customer that was part of the B & A Trail group called the Trailblazers. They would ride the trail every day, keep it clean, and report any riff-raff. He did this for so many years and was a regular customer. When he passed away, we named a blend after him and donate all the profits to Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis & Anne Arundel County.

Where do you source your coffee?

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Our main roaster is Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company out of Crofton. They are responsible for about 70 percent of our coffee whether they are blends or single origins. The other ones we get from Honduras Coffee in Stewart, Virginia. We also will source one-offs from different places.

Can you talk about the items you offer besides coffee?

At our Severna Park location, we offer muffins, cookies, cupcakes, locally-baked fresh pastries, and gluten-free brownies, muffins, and tarts. We also have cake pops. We try to use a lot of local vendors. In our Annapolis store, we have breakfast and lunch sandwiches.

Please tell us about the process of delivering coffee?

We only deliver whole beans. You have to order it through the website. We started that during Covid. We don’t do hot coffee. I believe a lot of other shops are doing that now, whether they are doing it through Grubhub or another service. When it is taken from another delivery person that isn’t one of our employees, we don’t know how the customer is going to receive that product. We are very particular about how our product is presented to people.

Christie, what are your top-selling coffees?

Probably our house blend. Our big-name propriety blend. That would be our top seller. We also have assorted flavors that are very popular. We have 25 to 30 different flavored coffees. It can be unusual for coffee shops. But we do sell a lot of those. We have a lot of flavored coffee lovers of blueberry, caramel, hazelnut, and our Jamaican Me Crazy.

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Greg, what else did you do to upgrade when you bought the place?

We hired additional staff, so there was always someone here to engage with the customers. The philosophy we took was to almost overstaff and make sure we were engaging the customers and really making it an old-school, community coffee shop. People would just come to talk and hang out.

Christie, how is your place different than other coffee shops?

We focus on having really great products for the people that come in here. We have a great crew and each one of them really likes working with customers. I think that is the biggest thing that separates us—that we engage with customers and take the time to really get to know them and their lives in general. I have had customers I have known for the last 22 years. We socialize with them and live life together. We are really involved with the community. It all started at The Big Bean. It’s a special place.