7 ways to try Buddy Brew the fastest growing coffee brand in Florida
A small-town Tampa specialty coffee brand is taking the country by storm
If you like to visit Tampa Bay, you’ve likely been to Buddy Brew Coffee, Tampa’s best known micro-curated specialty coffee brand. With its endearing dog logo and “Brew Good, Do Good” motto, Buddy Brew has been a fixture in the Tampa food scene and advocated for good in the community for more than a decade. In fact, in 2021 Buddy Brew earned the prestigious Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year Award.
Buddy Brew sets itself apart from big box coffee chains by sourcing only seasonal coffees in the top 2% in quality in the world, and fresh roasting in small batches to bring out the regional tasting notes in every bean. Now, thanks to distribution deals with grocery chains like The Fresh Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods Market, Publix Super Markets, Winn-Dixie and more, the coffee voted “Best of Tampa” year after year is available coast to coast.
Not so long ago, owners Dave and Susan Ward were a couple of newlyweds on the hunt for a better cup of coffee. They started roasting coffee beans in their garage, and soon moved operations to a tiny storefront. The intoxicating aroma began attracting curious locals, and soon they were brewing up pots of their specialty coffee beans for customers to enjoy.
“We are firm believers that something magical happens when a great cup of coffee is shared,” say the Wards, who named the coffee after their beloved golden lab mix, Buddy. “He represents the qualities we want to share with our customers every day, friendship, loyalty and unconditional love.”
The roastery soon expanded into the neighboring space to become Buddy Brew’s flagship café. Over the next ten years, the Wards opened seven more cafés, including two during the pandemic. They say what’s made Buddy Brew unique is its people-first business model.
“Buddy Brew sources coffees through direct relationships with smallholder farmers and women-owned co-ops, always paying highly equitable prices so that farmers can thrive,” the Wards say. “We want to change the world, one cup of coffee at a time, and that starts with honoring coffee farmers.”
Among its single origin coffees, Buddy Brew regularly offers special collaboration roasts that are designed to raise funds for causes that support foster children, at risk youth, and victims of human trafficking, as well as hurricane relief in Florida and reforestation in coffee-growing regions.
“Coffee is what we do, love is why we do it,” the Wards say. “That’s what our ‘Brew Good, Do Good’ mission is all about.”
Here are 7 ways you can experience Buddy Brew Coffee, and see what all the buzz is about.
Photo taken Marche F at Gate D
1. Travel to (or through) Tampa.
If you’re flying to Tampa, or have a layover at Tampa International Airport (TPA), Buddy Brew is just around the corner. Check out Buddy Brew’s full specialty coffee bar in Marche F at Gate D. Enjoy a hot or iced coffee, pastry or house beer. You can also grab a bag of coffee beans to go.
2. Visit a Buddy Brew café.
Buddy Brew has eight café locations — seven in Tampa and one in Sarasota. Each cafe has its own unique personality, with a mix of industrial and vintage elements. Expect a high-end coffee experience without a hint of pretentiousness.
Buddy Brew’s shop in trendy Hyde Park Village, is the perfect spot to take a break while shopping at Anthropologie, Lululemon, Madewell and West Elm. While there, you just may run into local celebs like Food Network star Geoffrey Zakarian, who is a regular. He declared it “best coffee in Tampa” in a Tampa Magazine cover story.
The waterfront Bay-to-Bay location is a regular gathering spot for locals including pro hockey and football players who fuel up with their favorite drip coffee, espresso drink or BOLT cold brew.
For lovers of all things romantic, the Buddy Brew coffee bar in Oxford Exchange is not to be missed. Known for its soaring ceilings and winding staircase (a favorite spot for bridal photo shoots), enjoy your coffee while perusing the upscale gift and book shop, or while dining in the gourmet restaurant. Bring pennies to pitch in the fountain on the patio.
Off the beaten path is the Buddy Brew coffee bar in the new Armature Works, located right in the heart of Tampa’s The Heights district. This lovingly restored trolley depot has been transformed into a spacious shopping and food hall which opens directly onto Tampa’s famed River Walk.
3. Visit one of Buddy Brew’s wholesale partners in Tampa Bay.
There are dozens of locations in Tampa and across the state of Florida that proudly serve Buddy Brew. Coffee shops, restaurants, golf clubs and even churches serve Buddy Brew through wholesale agreements. Here are just a few:
The Stovall House in Tampa is a modern day private social club with a restaurant and bar areas, guest suites and outdoor gathering spaces. Built in 1909, the historic house on the property is one of the oldest examples of classical revival architecture in the area.
The Current Hotel, Autograph Collection a Marriott hotel, is known for its panoramic views of Tampa Bay. Savvy travelers know there is a Buddy Brew coffee bar quietly tucked away in its sleek lobby. Just across the peninsula, you can also find a Buddy Brew coffee bar in the posh Godfrey Hotel and Cabanas.
Chill Bros Scoop Shop, founded by fourth generation Tampa natives, Chill Bros always sources local ingredients for their world-class ice cream flavors. Chill Bros.’s Cafe Con Leche Chunk is made with real coffee — Buddy Brew’s BOLT cold brew, to be exact. Don’t miss it.
In spring 2023 a new Buddy Brew café will open in the Judy Genshaft Honors College at University of South Florida-Tampa. The five-story 85,000 square-foot building will feature a Buddy Brew café on the main floor. Guests will be able to sip coffee in the café — or while perched in one of 39 cantilevered learning lofts suspended from the second through fifth floors of the atrium.
4. Stop by the Buddy Brew Brew Truck.
While in Tampa, keep your eyes peeled for Buddy Brew’s Brew Truck, a mobile espresso bar equipped with highly trained baristas. When it’s not being used to make surprise coffee deliveries to teachers and firefighters, the Brew Truck can be found on-site at some of Tampa’s biggest music, sports and community events, including the annual Gasparilla Bowl and Tampa Pig Jig barbecue festival. It also can be hired out for corporate catering and private events, including weddings.
5. Visit one of Buddy Brew’s wholesale partners in other parts of Florida.
The Green Pineapple Boutique, Yoga and Wellness Cafe, on the famous upper Duval Street in Key West, offers a world-class health-conscious menu — and Buddy Brew coffee. Savor a cortado or latte over lunch or take it with you to stroll the galleries and shops.
Wake Up Marco is the only locally owned coffee shop on Marco Island. Locals and tourists agree it’s a friendly spot to grab a cup of Buddy Brew on the way to the beautiful beaches. You’ll likely see the ebullient owner, Oscar, who enjoys chatting with guests over a cup of coffee.
Hillcrest Coffee in Lakeland, Florida, is a popular coffee shop located in a cool 1920’s bungalow. Expect to find live music, books and board games, fresh pastries and Buddy Brew hot and iced coffee.
The Library in Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, proudly serves Buddy Brew coffee. The world-class restaurant (named after famed philanthropist George Peabody) is a beautifully appointed oasis of calm for patients and their families, and members of the community.
6. Visit a grocery store near you.
Buddy Brew’s whole bean and cold brew coffees have been sold in Florida’s Whole Foods Market and Publix Super Markets for a long time, but as of a recent expansion, Buddy Brew’s geographic footprint is nationwide. This year Buddy Brew landed distribution for its whole bean coffees in The Fresh Market, Winn-Dixie, Roche Bros., and Fresh Thyme Market. Additionally, Sprouts Farmers Market now sells BOLT cold brew (in original and nitro) in their nearly 400 stores coast to coast, from Mashpee, Massachusetts to Santa Barbara, California.
7. Take a tour of the Buddy Brew website.
If you haven’t found Buddy Brew near you but don’t want to wait, Buddy Brew’s website is the answer. At BuddyBrew.com, you can order the brand’s seasonal single-origin coffees, meticulously curated by Director of Coffee Phil Holstein. Peruse what’s new as well as collaboration coffees that raise funds for local and global causes. All orders are roasted and shipped within 24 hours of your order. Send a message or chat online with Buddy Brew’s coffee experts during regular business hours. They’re happy to help you select the best coffee, choose the right brewer or grinder, or just chat about all things coffee.
Follow Buddy Brew at @buddybrew.com.
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