Coffee beans and big dreams

D&M Coffee owners Donna Malek and Mark Holloway started the company in a scamp van. Today, they have five locations in Ellensburg and own multiple businesses in town

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Coffee beans and big dreams

CWU alumni Donna Malek and Mark Holloway co-own D&M Coffee. The two purchased a scamp van in
1990 to start a mobile espresso bar.

CWU alumni Donna Malek and Mark Holloway co-own D&M Coffee. The two purchased a scamp van in 1990 to start a mobile espresso bar.

CWU alumni Donna Malek and Mark Holloway co-own D&M Coffee. The two purchased a scamp van in 1990 to start a mobile espresso bar.

CWU alumni Donna Malek and Mark Holloway co-own D&M Coffee. The two purchased a scamp van in 1990 to start a mobile espresso bar.

Sean Quinn, Staff Reporter

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Sometimes, all it takes to make a dream come true are two hard-working individuals, a lot of love and some espresso. D&M Coffee, co-owned by married couple Donna Malek and Mark Holloway, holds an active presence in Ellensburg. They have five locations in town and their coffee can be found in other retailers throughout the community. The D&M name was created after the couple’s first initials. Their gas pump pouring coffee logo is unique to their brand, inspired by their original location, a former gas station. Both owners said their success is thanks to having been a part of this community for many years as well having been CWU alumnus.

It’s the late 1980’s. Malek and Holloway are both studying art at CWU. Malek, a single mom, was a hairdresser. Holloway was a head chef at the Valley Café which is now The Wild Huckleberry Restaurant. The two met in college and became a couple who had a dream to own their own business.

According to the History of D&M Coffee Inc., they purchased and converted an old scamp van into a mobile espresso bar in 1990, the first of its kind in Ellensburg. Malek and Holloway would think about how to grow their business in the van.

“[We] basically went with Donna’s savings and my MacGyver creativity,” Holloway said.

At the Gorge Amphitheatre, they sold coffee during concerts, as well as across the street from CWU’s campus during the weekdays. Just a year later, they opened their first main location at the old Wippel Service Station on Main Street.

“All our friends were like, ‘You’re going to do drive-thru coffee? That’s crazy,’” Holloway said.

Holloway said at the time there were very few drive-thru coffee shops let alone espresso machines in Ellensburg at the time.

Despite the lack of encouragement from friends, the location thrived and the two were able to start roasting their own coffee shortly after. The small company went from distributing through a regional distribution company to eventually taking full control of their own distribution network, 10 years after opening their first location.

Malek said D&M’s unique perspective towards coffee is part of what makes it so special.

“When we roast our coffees, we approach the coffee bean like it’s an individual,” Malek said. “We don’t just roast coffee. We treat it like it’s a little piece of art.”

Even through the many years together not only as husband and wife, but co-business owners, Malek and Holloway remained close.

“When you’re a couple, you always want to rise each other up and move forward,” Malek said. “We as a couple, neither one of us came from money. No one paid our ways. We’ve always been super good at work and we both are hard workers.”

Their passion allowed their business to grow, as today their wholesale business has accounts spanning from Alaska to Montana to Japan according to the History of D&M Coffee Inc.

In addition to their work in coffee production, Holloway and Malek have gone into other business ventures. In 2013, the two opened Cornerstone Pie, a pizza restaurant in town. The reason behind the creation of the food place was clear to the owners.

“Our goal with starting Cornerstone has always been bringing something fun and unique to Ellensburg,” Holloway said.

Malek and Holloway opened Cornerstone Pie because the couple enjoyed going to places when they were out of town. The fire-roasted pizza place has live music sporadically on an outdoor patio area and serves D&M coffee.

The work by Malek, Holloway and their staff has not gone unnoticed. In the near 30 years the couple have been business owners, they have won numerous awards. According to the History of D&M Coffee Inc., in 2006, the coffee shop was a recipient of Kittitas County Economic Development Group’s Business of the Year Award. In 2015, Cornerstone Pie was listed as #2 by Fodor’s Travel Guide in the Central Washington region. More recently in 2018, Malek and Holloway were awarded the Community Diversity Award at the 2018 Diversity! Awards.

“The community part is big for me,” Holloway said. “I like the diversity that the university brings to our community.”

Inside their main downtown store, college students Scott Engelhart and Kyersten Hunt stand by the barista, smiling with coffee in hands. They frequent D&M because of their love for the product.

“I really like the setting and being able to get off-campus but also see familiar faces and students that you see everyday,” Hunt said.

The two CWU students explained that they make frequent trips to D&M to stay in touch with friends who work there.

“You can go to Starbucks but it’s not really the same,” Englehart said. “It’s the environment I guess too. It’s the whole vibe. I like it because it’s more kind of homie than kind of corporate-this.”