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The unexpected winner of our 2014 edition of Build-Outs of Summer is the great American state of Florida, which has been featured twice so far in write-ups on Bold Bean Coffee and Brew Five Points, both located in Jacksonville. Often maligned, frequently the butt of jokes, Florida is a crazy mish-mash of cultures and traditions and theme parks that won’t be ignored. This particular build-out comes to us all the way from Tampa, a city well-known in beer circles or Cigar City Brewery, one of America’s best indie brewers who’ve teamed up with everyone from New Belgium to Mikkeller.

DONA tea, Equitably sources teas and tisanes
DONA Cardamom Rose
DONA now serving Matcha
DONA chai, specialty coffee's other half

On the coffee side of things, Tampa is home to Buddy Brew Coffee, a company we’ve seen compete at several consecutive Southeast Regional Barista Competitions (their competitor last year, Nate Cochoran, made a cappuccino out of buffalo milk). Earlier this summer one of their spaces underwent an expansive expansion, so let’s learn more about a brand with “crazy passion for coffee excellence.”

As told to Sprudge by Susan Ward.

Can you tell me a bit about the new space?

Our newly expanded space is in a charming 1955 building. Our goal while building out the space and expanding to the whole building was to honor the history and charm of the original architecture. We removed drop ceilings to expose original wood rafters, embraced all of the wonderful picture windows by adding bar seating, kept the original terrazzo floor and utilized as much reclaimed material as possible such as scaffolding planks for the retails shelves held up with reclaimed sprinkler pipe. The communal table and seating bars were built with cypress wood that was salvaged from the Tallahassee river.

Our roasting operation is housed in the space of our original cafe and is open for customers to sit at the bar and watch the roasting and production processes in action. We love the transparency this provides of our production operation, allowing customers to see their coffee getting roasted and bagged right before their eyes. A glass wall also allows for an open feel between the roastery and the cafe. The cafe includes plenty of bar seats, a communal table, lots of comfy seating including leather coaches and chairs covered in Japanese demim.

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A wildy creative mural (including 3D art) painted by local artist, Ron Francis, fills the back wall of our service bar. Our HQ offices are on the second floor, originally built as an apartment where the first occupants lived (circa 1955) while they running their appliance store on the first floor. We love all of this history and are thrilled to bring some revitalization back to this area of Kennedy, which has now become a hip corner (Albany Square) with lots of great local businesses.

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What is your approach to coffee?

Our approach to coffee is summed up with our motto and mission, Brew Good Do Good. We have a crazy passion for the pursuit of coffee excellence. We believe in sourcing the world’s best specialty grade beans and hand roasting them to (what we call) sweet delicious perfection. We commit unwaveringly to bean freshness. We believe in meticulously preparing each drink to serve each individual customer. Because, for us, it’s about more than just getting a jolt or quenching thirst; it’s about more than a sleek business plan or just making a profit. Our love for coffee, people and the pursuit of excellence runs as deep as our desire to make a difference in the world. The opportunity to make an impact on someone’s day, on someone’s life, through the good we invest into every cup, is the driving force behind everything that we do. Honoring the coffee, respecting the bean and loving the people who touch it from crop to cup. This is Brew Good Do Good. This is the Buddy Brew Coffee Way.

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Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?

For equipment in the cafe, we have a La Marzocco 3 group GB5 AV, Malkhönig grinders (K30 Twin and a Kenya), Melitta pour-over cones served over retro Melitta glass pots, Chemex, AeroPress and Yama Vac Pots. We also serve cold brew on the nitro tap. On the roasting side we have 2 Diedrichs (LOVE!). Our original IR7 and a new beautiful IR12 and a handmade Huky 500 sample roaster.

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When did you open up? What are your hours of operation?

Our original shop and roastery opened 4 years ago. Our newly expanded and remodeled space opened in May. The expansion tripled our retail operation space and tripled our roasting/production footprint to also include a training bar for espresso classes and slow bar training. Our hours of operation are: Monday–Friday 6:30 am–7 pm, Saturday 8 am–7pm, Sunday 8am–4pm. We also have a beautiful Buddy Brew Coffee bar down the street inside Oxford Exchange, which has been open for a year and half. We also just launched our first Buddy Brew Coffee Truck.

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Are you working with craftsmen, architects, and/or creatives that you would like to mention?

We are so blessed to have an amazing team of creatives on this project. Our project manager, James Brearly, is brilliant, wildly creative and a rock start at project management. Our designer, Mary Beth Courier of Oxford Design, was incredible. Our general contractor is EWI Construction, did a beautiful job. We also had work from local artist, Ron Frances. What a team!

Buddy Brew is located at 2020 W. Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, Florida. You can buddy up with them via Instagram, on Facebuddy, or at their website.

Photos by Ashlee Hamon Photography Inc.

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