The smell of fresh roasted coffee beans bursts through the door of coffee and onto West Kennedy Boulevard where it meets the driver of a passing car's nose, creating yet another loyal customer for Dave and Susan Ward.
A general lack of parking and a somewhat obscure, off the beaten South Tampa path location have not been enough to slow the business down. Ward, a lifelong coffee enthusiast and his wife went into the business to roast their own coffee and attempt to sell it to local businesses for use in their stores. What they found was that they had a business of their own brewing.
"We planned on being more of a wholesale roaster but that location on Kennedy has really taken off and people have really taken to being in the shop. So we've developed that, training great baristas and making the shop a comfortable place to hang out, not just a tasting room," Susan said.
2020 West Kennedy Blvd.
One door closes, another opens: Prior to becoming gourmet coffee roasters and retailers, the Ward's had full time careers. Dave sold commercial real estate, a job that fell by the way side with the real estate crash of recent years. Susan worked as a district manager for a pharmaceutical company, but the pair have relished their time in the new line of work.
"Once you go for it and get into coffee, a ton of doors open up to you and you find a whole coffee community that is very welcoming. Coming from businesses in our past that were very competitive, it's been a nice change to have a synergy amongst the players of this business," Dave said.
Rapid growth: "We've got a bunch of new initiatives that we're hoping will continue to grow the wholesale side of the business and we have new location that is going to be very close by with a different name and is going to be really amazing from the architecture to the coffee. We're growing so fast we can't see straight," Dave said.
Building a Brand: "Our mantra is brew good, do good," Susan says. "From the brew good perspective we are focused on creating exceptional coffee, finding farms that grow the highest quality coffee and rewarding the farmer by paying a fair price. We hand roast each batch to bring out the aromas and carefully prepare each cup. From the do good side, we want to bring people together over coffee and build community."
The name: "Buddy is a lab mix that we've had since he was three months old, he's now 15. We love what he represents: friendship, loyalty, love, companionship. That's what a dog is and they too bring people together so we wanted to put that into the brand," Susan said.
Gourmet coffee for Tampa: "I think our timing was really good when we opened up this business because Tampa is kind of behind other big cities when it comes to the coffee business in general. I think there was a search going on for something better than the big boys of coffee and Buddy Brew gave them something to put their arms around," Dave said.
Roasting: "I love to roast but growing a business has a large set of demands so I don't get to do it as much as I'd like anymore. Most of my time is spent now getting the best beans we can find and now we have an amazing roaster who has stepped into that role," Dave said.
Hours: Mon-Fri: 6 a.m.- 5 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.- 5 p.m., and Sun. 8 a.m.-4 p.m.