Buddy Brew has been a local favorite for years. Now, thanks to a major expansion, bags of the company's coffee is on the shelves of 680 Publix locations around Florida.
"It all started with a quest for a better cup of coffee, and it accidentally turned into a business," says Buddy Brew co-founder Susan Ward. "We were really in the best place at the best time."
Susan and her husband, David Ward, opened the first Buddy Brew in South Tampa nine years ago. At the time, Tampa did not have much of a speciality coffee scene.
"What we came to realize was that people were welcoming to a new, fresh look at coffee, a higher-quality, craft-roasted speciality-grade coffee," Susan says. "It took off more than we imagined and the retail side of our business really began to grow."
Since then, the company has opened five more cafés in the Tampa Bay area, including one in downtown Sarasota. Buddy Brew even operates a coffee truck that will travel to you.
The partnership with Publix began gradually. "Speciality coffee is an amazing experience and it'’'s growing in popularity," says Susan. "One of our goals is to make it more accessible to a larger population, and this was an avenue to make it more accessible. This was an opportunity where someone could pick it up while they are grocery shopping."
The pilot program began with 16 stores carrying Buddy Brew products in January 2017. By the end of 2018, that number had climbed to 70. Then, Publix approached Buddy Brew about bringing their coffee to more markets in Florida. The store is currently carrying six varieties of whole Buddy Brew beans: Gasparilla Roast, Old Florida Roast, Black Lab Roast, Ethiopia Sidama, Cubano Espresso and Sumatra Mandheling.
“As we grow, we are continuing to keep our standards, and even expand on what it already is,” Susan says. “We are spending a lot of time on sourcing, which is where the quality of our coffee begins, the highest-grade speciality coffee from around the globe. We are continuing to expand on the amount of roasters we have, and we are working very, very hard to ensure that craft in every batch.”
Buddy Brew coffee is now available in 680 Publix locations across the state. You can find a full list of Publix locations carrying Buddy Brew here.