June 4, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Dean Becharas, Beverly Hills

Becharas Brothers Coffee owner got to live American dream

Mr. Becharas )

Dean Becharas believed in his business and his family, and he spent his life blending the two in much the same way he blended coffee beans to make his company’s signature roasts.

As the owner of Becharas Brothers Coffee Co. in Highland Park, Becharas used his integrity and the quality of his product to secure numerous regional clients and, at one point, the contract to supply all of the coffee for the U.S. Army.

“My dad always said he had a doctorate from the school of hard knocks and the harder he worked, the luckier he got,” said his eldest son, Nick Becharas. “Besides his family, his life was his business.”

Dean Becharas, known to his friends as “Dino,” died Monday, June 2, 2014, after struggling with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 79.

Under Mr. Becharas’ watchful eye, Becharas Brothers thrived for decades. In the past 10 years, he stepped away from the operations, allowing his four children to take over.

“He wanted to give his children a chance,” said son Nick. “He said, ‘For this to continue and be successful, I have to bow out.’”

The business wasn’t new to Mr. Becharas’ children. They’d been working with him at the roasting plant pretty much since they were old enough to walk, talk and package the product.

“I have a picture of me when I was 4 packing coffee,” said Nick Becharas. “He started me before he knew there were child labor laws.”

Mr. Becharas also passed down the strict coffee-tasting procedures taught to him by his two uncles, who founded the company in 1914. Close attention to quality was always the family tradition, said his son.

Every morning, Mr. Becharas, Nick and another son, Dean Jr., would go through an elaborate cupping ritual that has been practiced in the industry for more than 300 years to ensure only the best-tasting coffee would be sent to customers.

“My dad always said all a man really has is his word and his reputation, and once you tarnish that, it’s almost impossible to get that back,” said Nick Becharas. “He didn’t believe in contracts with a lot of his suppliers. He did a lot of things with handshakes, carrying on the values that were passed to him.”

Mr. Becharas was born one of nine children in a town in Greece so small and remote that up until a few decades ago, you still had to use a donkey to get there instead of a car, Nick Becharas said. He was 15 when he was sent to Michigan to learn his uncles’ coffee business.

“Cut and dry, it was the American dream you always hear about,” said Nick Becharas. “He really got to live it.”

Mr. Becharas also is survived by his wife, Diane; daughters, Stephanie and Demi Becharas; and nine grandchildren.

Visitation is 2-8 p.m. today at A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Home, 2600 Crooks, Troy. A Trisagion service will be at 7 p.m.

A funeral will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, 760 W. Wattles, Troy.

(313) 222-2127