TAMPA — The Buddy Brew coffee brand's evolution takes another step forward today as Dave and Susan Ward open their expanded retail shop to customers.
It's more of a soft opening than a grand opening; the Wards plan to wait until May to introduce a new food menu secretly in development. But the newly remodeled 2,000-square-foot space, in the same building as the original 1,200-square-foot storefront at 2020 W. Kennedy Blvd., will offer customers 45 seats instead of the previous 14. Mayor Bob Buckhorn will drop by to cut a ribbon and film a segment for his monthly “Mayor's Hour” TV show.
The industrial chic decor of the bright streetfront shop is a mix of sleek, shiny coffee equipment, terrazzo flooring, stainless counters and repurposed wood.
“It really captures the look and feel of who Buddy Brew is,” Dave Ward said.
The expansion was necessary so that the company, founded in 2010, could grow production for its wholesale roasting operation, which now includes Buddy Brew coffee beans at Whole Food stores in Tampa and Orlando and Duckweed Market in downtown Tampa.
Much of the original coffee shop space will be converted into a roastery. Customers in the new retail shop eventually will be able to view the new roaster through glass walls. In the previous shop, the roaster was tucked between the coffee bar and a communal dining table.
“It just won't be as in your face as it was in the original shop,” Ward said.
The expansion project began in August but became bogged down in government red tape after it was discovered that the building, which was constructed in the early 1900s, lacked a site plan. The renovation moved forward in January after James Brearley volunteered to be the project manager, the Wards said. Brearley was project manager for development of the Oxford Exchange in Tampa, where Buddy Brew operates a retail coffee shop.
“It has taken miracles along the way,” Ward said. “He's an unbelievable guy.”
The new space also improves the customer flow, Susan Ward said. The front counter will still feature a coffee bar, with seats where baristas can interact with customers at the “slow bar” where slow-pour coffees are made. But the ordering line will be several feet away in open space. In addition to a bark-edged, wooden communal table, there will be easy chairs and a sofa where customers can relax.
Also, baristas will begin pairing coffees with specific brewing methods. Peruvian beans, for example, will be used for pour-overs, a Japanese method that uses a precise flow of water so the coffee grounds are equally exposed. Beans from Kenya might be best with a Chemex manual coffeemaker, which looks like an hourglass with a wooden waistline.
The intended effect is to establish an emotional response for coffee fans.
“We want people to feel connected to the beans,” Dave Ward said.