Willamette alumna generates big city buzz

Pull shots at the Bistro today, own a booming coffee business in fast-paced, coffee-crazed Seattle tomorrow. So goes the story of Willamette alumna Dani Cone '98, a business economics graduate who was recently named one of the Puget Sound Business Journal's 40 Under 40.

Each year beginning in April, the journal begins a search for the 40 most successful young entrepreneurs in the Puget Sound area who demonstrate excellent leadership and management skills, as well as practice community outreach. This year, out of more than 500 nominations and 232 applicants, Cone was selected after a five-month-long process.

Cone, now 33, worked at the student-run Bistro on campus when she was an undergraduate. Today she is living up to the enterprising reputation of the Willamette community as she lights up the Seattle coffee scene with her businesses: Fuel Coffee, with shops spread across Seattle, and High 5 Pie, a wholesale bakery.

Her businesses, the first of which kicked off in 2004, now roll in more than $1 million annually, according to the Business Journal.

When she isn't managing her enterprises or pouring joe, Cone is an advocate and sponsor for breast cancer research, an author (try: Tall, Skinny, Bitter: Notes from the Center of Coffee Culture), and, in the Willamette spirit, fond of being engaged in her community.

"One of my favorite parts is truly being a part of a neighborhood. I think [that] involvement and being around people has always been paramount on my mind," she says. "In general, I've always really loved business, I love being a barista and I love making coffee."

Cone was honored on Sept. 22 at the Showbox SoDo in Seattle.