Brian Franklin is the founder, owner, and roastmaster of DoubleShot Coffee Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Franklin opened the DoubleShot in 2004, after a half-decade career as a personal trainer and a couple years grinding out the foundations and support needed to get his foot in the door of the specialty coffee industry. Living in a run-down apartment without utilities for the first three-and-a-half years, the roastmaster proved his pluck, and a faithful group of unconventional characters formed the core of a diverse customer group known as DoubleShot Folk. Coffee-centric, staunch, and single-minded, Franklin earned the moniker “Coffee Nazi” early on for his desire to serve coffee unmuddied by milk and sugar, and his unwillingness to compromise his standards in coffee or in life.
With a background in sport, Franklin grew into an ultra-endurance athlete, where hours spent on the run or in the saddle of a mountain bike forged in him the attributes of patience, toughness, and perseverance. But many of the finer details of business management came out of his countless crashes, failures, DNFs, injuries, and a few victories over the course of a racing career that has spanned well over half a lifetime.
With the goal to know the people who cultivate the products he serves, Franklin began traveling to coffee farms within a year of opening the doors of the DoubleShot. Amid his journeys around the globe, he acquired knowledge and know-how through experiences, some of which were harrowing, all of which combined to change his outlook on the world. From pertinent travel lessons staring down the barrel of a gun to a practical understanding of fluid dynamics in his half-joking creation of the DoubleShot Space Program, Franklin has lived his life in an astute awareness, acquiring experiential wisdom.
Attracting attention for his earnestness as well as his foolhardy disregard for conventions or protocol, the DoubleShot, with Franklin at the helm, has been the subject of documentary, comedy, and frequent bouts of controversy. Distractions notwithstanding, it’s been a career obsessed with the mission to serve excellent coffee to as many people as possible. And as that number of people has grown exponentially, Franklin’s understanding of the potentiality of excellent coffee has bloomed to a seemingly unattainable standard. He might call it “The DoubleShot Minimum Standard.”
1998: Brian Franklin, personal fitness trainer by day, begins roasting coffee in his kitchen, largely out of curiosity.
- 2002-2004: Lives out of his car, intent on opening the DoubleShot in Boulder, Colorado.
- 2003: Emails Bill McAlpin, founder of Hacienda La Minita, to see about buying a bag of green coffee to roast.
- March 5, 2004: Opens DoubleShot Coffee Company in a strip mall on south Boston Avenue in Tulsa, in a black box previously known for hosting obscure indie bands. Moves into an apartment on Riverside Drive but can’t afford to turn on the utilities.
- 2005: Started AA Cafe, the first and now longest-running coffee podcast. Notable guests over the years include Michael Wallis (Sheriff on “Cars”), Brian Haas (JFJO), Tommy Wazelle (Pig on “Peg+Cat”), and lots of other cool people you’ve probably never heard of.
- 2006: Refuses to change his company name when Starbucks, producer of the Doubleshot energy drink, alleges copyright infringement. (The standoff is documented in The Perfect Cappuccino by documentary filmmaker Amy Ferraris.) In October, fires his entire staff and runs the business on his own.
- 2007: Travels to Long Beach for the Specialty Coffee Association convention. Sleeps on public benches, reads William T. Vollmann’s Poor People. Hires an employee, Isaiah Shreese. Moves into an apartment with utilities. Ice storm blankets the city, destroying thousands of trees and knocking out power for weeks. Serves French presses grinding on hand mills and brewing on a camp stove, for those customers able to make it in.
- 2009: Visits Hacienda El Boton in Antioquia, Colombia. Convinces them to produce their first-ever dry-processed coffee. Writes the Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros for permission to import, as the nation has only ever exported wet-processed coffee.
- 2010: The adjacent space — connected by a steel door — comes available, effectively doubling the DoubleShot. Moves the café here and uses the former space for roasting and a more ambitious baking operation. El Boton Natural is featured in a Wine Spectator article written by Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds.
- 2011: In a freak accident, Krista, a regular, rams her Accord into the CRV of Honorable Paul Cleary, another regular, forcing it through the floor-to-ceiling window of the café. On safari with parents in Tanzania.
- 2012: Carrie Brownstein of Portlandia fame visits, writes an episode based on the house “Rules While Ordering.” Vincent, a kind of regular, throws a brick through the still-new window. Landlord refuses to replace. The writing at 1730 S. Boston is on the wall.
- 2013: Kevin Bacon visits. Bacon to Brian: “Hey, man, loved your movie.” Brian to Bacon: “You loved my movie?”
- 2014: Jane Goodall visits DoubleShot ahead of a speaking engagement. Steve Franklin, Brian’s dad, dies the following day.
- 2015: First trip to Nicaragua where he begins a micro-finance project with SpiritBank and nonprofit Just Hope, giving coffee farmers pre-harvest loans.
- 2016: Launches Native Design: an import, design, and manufacturing company for coffee gear.
- 2017: Purchases a barn in Berne, Indiana, erected in 1850. Begins making plans for the new home of the DoubleShot.
- 2018: Part of the ceiling caves in during an unannounced roof replacement. That night — Christmas week — the city is inundated in a massive snowstorm. Moisture from the melt pours into the roastery and ruins several hundred pounds of green coffee.
- March 5, 2019: In an epic overnight move, opens the DoubleShot on South Boulder Avenue—the 15th anniversary, to the day—adjacent to a lot formerly occupied by the Magician’s Theater. Dubs it The Rookery.
- 2020: The Covid-19 pandemic hits shortly after the one-year anniversary in the new space. Begins curbside service and expands the product line to include a market offering beer and wine, local meat, fresh-squeezed orange juice, Red Ridge Creamery milk, and other items, including the hand-sewn plushy Covie! Keeps all baristas employed during the pandemic. Raises hackles when he accuses the mayor of “pussyfooting” his way around Covid-19 policies. In December buys the Cowen Construction building at Quanah Street and Archer Avenue—originally built by Williams Pipeline in 1928—and renames it The Bowstring.
- 2022: Purchases two “manzanas” (parcels of land) in Nicaragua for a coffee farm and names it “Dos Manzanas.” Invests in two other farms in Nicaragua founded by friend and former owner of Panama’s Finca Momoto, Luis, who calls them Finca Massif (Nueva Segovia and Matagalpa).
- 2023: Plants 5,800 H3 variety coffee trees on Dos Manzanas. Ran 50 miles in Hamilton, Ontario on his 50th birthday. Then two more 50s in Sturgis, South Dakota and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio in consecutive months, scouting possible locations for DoubleShot expansion.