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Bad brew suit: Buddy Brew sues Idaho company over huge, faulty coffee maker

It’s massive, unwanted and now the subject of a lawsuit. The elephant in Buddy Brew Coffee’s shop is a 1,000-gallon cold brew coffee machine that, a recent lawsuit says, doesn’t work and has been impossible to return.

Buddy Brew, a Tampa-based coffee roaster with four locations in Tampa, filed a lawsuit in Hillsborough County Circuit Court earlier this month. It claims CoffeeWorks Inc., an Idaho coffee machine supplier, saddled it with an expensive machine that doesn’t work, was delivered late and continues to cost Buddy Brew money.

Related coverage: Buddy Brew Coffee to open downtown Tampa location>

In early 2017, Buddy Brew agreed to buy the custom machine from CoffeeWorks, whose website claims it provides "the new standard in cold brewed coffee equipment." Buddy Brew got a discount on the machine, paying $164,550 for it in exchange for hosting monthly demonstrations of the device for prospective customers.

The device was supposed to slash both the prep time and amount of coffee needed for the process by "more than half," the lawsuit said. Its components would be steel and meet federal food safety standards.

"Instead (CoffeeWorks) delivered a system that was unfit and unusable for food production and human consumption," the lawsuit said.

And it arrived five months late, Buddy Brew said.

Buddy Brew requested that CoffeeWorks remove the machine and issue a refund. CoffeeWorks, the suit said, has done neither. Buddy Brew said it was forced to replace the machine with another that works.

CoffeeWorks president John McClafferty acknowledged that the machine was late, and said that it was damaged in shipping. But by his account, CoffeeWorks was working with Buddy Brew to replace the damaged portion of the machine, and Buddy Brew kept changing its mind about what it wanted. He was surprised to learn the tiff with Buddy Brew had escalated to a lawsuit.

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"We understand that they may be having some financial difficulties, and we’re willing to work with them," McClafferty said. "But we don’t think we need to pursue a full lawsuit. I just don’t understand where everything went wrong."

Dave Harper, lawyer for Buddy Brew, said the company was not having financial difficulties.

"In fact, I think that Buddy Brew has enjoyed unprecedented success in this space," he said, "which is why they have the need for this product."

Buddy Brew is suing for the cost of the cold brew machine, legal fees and damages.

Contact this reporter at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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