Swell Joe Coffee Company in Lewes continues to enjoy a flavorful business, six years after selling its first pound of fresh-roasted coffee beans to Surf Bagel near Five Points.
Swell Joe’s signature roasts are now served in more than 20 restaurants, grocers and specialty shops in and around coastal Delaware, with signs of growth brewing.
Following an anticipated early spring slowdown in coffee sales from restaurant clients, orders from Cape-area independent grocers doubled in March and April while new business opportunities emerged in early May.
The team at Swell Joe recently announced four new locations where coffee lovers can grab a cup or bag of Swell Joe Coffee: Ada’s Picnic, the Brush Factory, Coho’s Market and A Latte Enjoy.
In May, Mary Tapp, owner of Ada’s Picnic and a longtime area farmers market vendor, opened a physical store in Millsboro, and she knew exactly which coffee she would brew on opening day. Tapp said, “I live near Surf Bagel and have enjoyed every cup of Swell Joe. I couldn’t wait to open my new eatery and serve my favorite Guatemalan roast, Awake. Our mission is to serve locally sourced, fresh food – and Swell Joe is a great fit to Ada’s Picnic. A consistently great cup of coffee can make all the difference when folks think about where to grab breakfast.”
Swell Joe’s fresh-local-coastal brand meshes perfectly with the Brush Factory on Kings, an 11,000-square-foot Sussex County destination that is home to over 60 unique local and regional vendors offering one-stop treasure hunting for all things home and garden. Following their mid-March closing due to pandemic-related restrictions, owners Christine and Mark Chura were eager to refresh their offerings to add even more local flavors into the growing marketplace area. Christine Chura said, “Our customers identify with locally based brands and offerings that are unique, artisanal, embody coastal living, and are not overly commercialized or mainstream; Swell Joe Coffee fits that bill.”
Swell Joe co-owners Karen Johnson and Sharon Vitella couldn’t agree more, and love that they can bike over to the Brush Factory, refresh their coffee on the shelves, then browse around and pick up fresh flowers, fruit, veggies and unique gifts. Johnson said, “Shopping at the Brush Factory is a multisensory experience that’s different with every visit. Room by room, it's a house of hidden gems, and we're thrilled that Swell Joe is in the mix of local, eclectic offerings.”
In late May, Dave Lyons and Rick Hardy greeted their first customers at Coho's Market & Grill on Rehoboth Avenue, a new hot spot for locals and vacationers to pick up grocery staples, specialty foods and grab-and-go items. When deciding which coffee to sell, Lyons and Hardy knew they wanted a unique and local offering, given their market’s proximity to a national chain coffee shop. Lyons said, “We strive to distinguish our market by featuring items that are high quality and locally sourced – with flavors and tastes that are authentic to the Delaware coastal region.” Swell Joe’s Karen Johnson said, “We’re excited to make it easier for Rehoboth Beach residents and visitors to sample coffee that’s off-the-charts fresh and roasted just a few miles away.”
About 30 miles south of Lewes/Rehoboth, on 2nd Street and the boardwalk in Ocean City, Md., sits A Latte Enjoy, a boardwalk favorite for hot drinks and smoothies, baked treats and acai bowls. Owner Shannon Tippet purchased A Latte Enjoy just prior to the pandemic, and when it was time to reopen her new business, she knew it was also time to seek a coffee partner who shared her passion for quality and service, with a distinctive coastal vibe. She said, “Our customers are obsessed with a good cup of joe. They are in a vacation mindset and looking for ways, big or small, to treat themselves to something different than what they can get back home.”
What happens after tourists leave the beach? Swell Joe recently launched an online store after receiving calls from vacationers who first tried Swell Joe while spending time at the beach. Johnson said, “Because we’re located in a high tourism destination, coffee lovers from the broader Mid Atlantic region have been reaching out to us after their DE/MD beach vacations to find out how they can have Swell Joe in their mugs while back at home.” She said, “We’re happy to keep our coffee fans stocked and stoked, wherever they live.”
For more information, go to www.swelljoecoffee.com.