Army veteran's Batavia coffee business grows through care, camaraderie
Sal Dazzo undoubtedly had some very hot days while serving in Iraq during his eight years in the U.S. Army.
These days, the 47-year-old is acclimated to a different kind of heat, the kind that comes from roasting small batches of coffee beans in his Batavia-based business, Gun Barrel Coffee.
Dazzo developed an interest in roasting coffee beans with his brother and, after about a year of experimentation, began his business on Feb. 12, 2017, from his three-season room at his Geneva home.
"I started playing around with different blends," Dazzo recalled.
Since November 2018, Dazzo and his business partner, Brian Seebauer of Algonquin, have operated out of a 1,700-square-foot location at 4 W. Wilson St., Suite A-3, nestled in downtown Batavia.
Dazzo acknowledges his business name has caused some misconceptions. The idea came from a story told by Seebauer's father, Bill, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War. In order to warm their coffee, soldiers would fire a clip from their machine guns and dip the hot rifle barrel into the cup, Dazzo said.
"We don't have guns. We have coffee," he said. "Our goal one day is to move to a bigger spot and hire more veterans."
Dazzo said he and Brian Seebauer may give out samples, but they are a roasting company and not a cafe.
Dazzo first began roasting beans in an old popcorn maker on an oven and tracked his progress in a notebook; now, he has the rear 1,200 square feet of his shop at his disposal.
Roasting a 3-pound batch of beans takes about 20 minutes.
In addition, Dazzo sets aside retail space to give local veterans an outlet to sell arts and crafts.
"I have no problem bringing their stuff here. I try to help them, they deserve recognition," said Dazzo, who also is a member of American Legion Post 75 in Geneva.
Matt McGrath, an Aurora resident and Army medic and infantry member from 1989 though 1999, is one of six vets with items currently for sale.
McGrath finds it therapeutic making necklaces, pens and other items out of shell casings and bullets for his business, LCR Veteran Creations.
"(Dazzo's) business has really grown. He's just a good guy, helping vets and getting their stuff seen. It's just nice to see a veteran own a business," he said.
Dazzo and Seebauer also donate $1 from each coffee bag sold to veterans groups. Last year, according to gunbarrelcoffee.com, they donated $6,000.
Dazzo's hobby became his livelihood in November 2018 when he resigned from his job to work full-time at Gun Barrel Coffee.
"We wanted to have something where we could make some money and also give back," Dazzo said. "The more we sell, the more we can give."
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