Something we've found ourselves missing over the last year or so are big public spaces: your markets, your malls, your movie theaters, and yes, your upcycled urban food halls. So imagine our delight when the team at Buddy Brew got in touch with an opportunity to feature their latest project—the eighth Buddy Brew cafe to open in the Tampa area—housed inside of a reclaimed trolley depot. Let's take a closer look.
As told to Sprudge by Joan Brasher.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Dave and Susan Ward started Buddy Brew Coffee in Tampa, Florida, a little more than a decade ago out of their love for coffee. They were on a quest to find the best cup of coffee in the world. They bought a Diedrich roaster and started working on their roasting skills in the garage. They chose the motto “Brew Good, Do Good” and committed themselves to sourcing specialty-grade coffees through direct relationships with farmers, co-ops, and importers. They also use their platform to give back to important causes in their hometown of Tampa.
To date, they have opened eight cafes in the Tampa Bay area that are joyful and welcoming spaces for people to connect and build community over a spectacular cup of coffee. They distribute whole bean coffee and BOLT organic cold brew throughout Florida in Publix and Whole Foods Markets. Buddy Brew also has a booming e-commerce business, serving customers all over the country. The Wards named the business after their beloved golden retriever, Buddy, because he has all the qualities they strive to exhibit every day: Loyalty, friendship and unconditional love.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Buddy Brew Coffee opened its eighth cafe at historic Armature Works (a former trolley depot), 1910 N. Ola Ave., in Tampa’s historic Heights district, April 22, 2021. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor joined Buddy Brew co-founders Dave and Susan Ward for the ribbon-cutting celebration. The full-service coffee and espresso bar is open seven days a week, serving hot and iced coffee beverages as well as BOLT cold brew, Original and Nitro, on tap. The breakfast menu includes pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and vegan donuts.The lunch menu features Buddy Brew’s signature avocado toast with poached eggs, among other entrees. Buddy Brew joins 19 other dining establishments in the historic venue. The 433-square-feet space is a blend of modern and industrial textiles that create an inviting feel while paying homage to the building’s history and industrial vibe.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Our motto is “Brew Good, Do Good.” That means top-quality specialty-grade coffee. We believe in doing good, giving back, and being kind. We believe specialty coffee should be for everyone, and should be served without being pretentious.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
How is your project considering sustainability?
Our Eagle One is extremely energy efficient and sustainable. We use paper straws in the shop and are moving ever forward on streamlining waste and recycling.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We opened April 22, 2021
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
The buildout was helmed by the Sinclair Group and RDB Design. Local metalwork artist Alex Rodriguez Wilkes created the custom steel shelving for back-of-house storage as well as a retail display for whole bean coffee at the register. He also crafted a one-of-a-kind hand-cut steel art piece in the shape of Buddy Brew’s classic logo.