The last thing Army veteran Paul Olsen and his brother Kenny wanted was another pretentious coffee shop in Herndon.
After spending two years learning the fine art of roasting coffee beans in Paul’s backyard, the brothers — embracing their self-described weirdness– opened the first coffee roaster in Herndon.
Their business, Weird Brothers, quickly took off after modest beginnings as a mobile coffee bar on wheels in early 2015.
Now, the locally-owned coffee shop has two brick-and-mortar locations: the first shop and roastery at 321 Sunset Park Drive and a new coffee bar that opened — at the request of the property owners — at 12825 Worldgate Drive.
But with each big step, the family-run business experienced hiccups along the way.
Shortly after the first Weird Brothers location opened, co-owner Kenny and the expert barista and go-getter of the brothers’ duo, died unexpectedly. Then, a few months before the second location’s opening, Paul’s father, Daryl, a retired businessman and teacher at a California High School who helped the business start-up, also died.
Despite difficult times in the family, Paul says the coffee shop has remained committed to brewing coffee and community spirit.
“We just keep pushing forward,” Paul said, describing the business as a family affair, “We have to make Kenny and my dad proud.”
Weird Brothers prides itself in selling a product that is unpretentious and different from corporate coffee.
The owners were inspired by the coffee culture on the West Coast and Paul’s experience traveling the world in the Army. After retiring from the Army in 2009 and with six years of government contracting experience, Paul decided to launch the business.
Having little roasting experience of their own, the brothers, who grew up in California with their parents, worked on their technique.
Now, as the business expands, they hope to create a place where people can experience the whole process of coffee from the bean to the cup.
For the Weird Brothers, coffee has always been about fostering community and personal connections. Olsen and his family — including three children — live in Herndon.
“We take our coffee seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Paul says.
Every Sunday, 15 percent of the day’s proceeds are donated to the charity of the day.
Even though Paul prides the now growing list of flavors the business serves, he concedes a simple truth that he often tells customers about:
“The best coffee is the coffee that you enjoy the most,” he says.
Photos by Jay Westcott
This story is part of a recurring feature on independent businesses in Herndon and Reston. To submit suggestions on businesses to profile, email us at [email protected].