Swell Joe Coffee is creating a beach-area sensation one cup at a time

May 9, 2015

In just over a year, Swell Joe Coffee Company in Lewes has brewed up a tasty business. Its seven flavors and counting are served in bakeries, restaurants and a hair salon in the coastal region, and the products are available in a local surf shop and included in a home-delivery service with customers in Washington, D.C., as well as around the Cape Region.

Rehoboth Beach-based SoDel Concepts recently began serving Swell Joe’s coffee at Fish On in Lewes, one of SoDel’s eight restaurants. “The response was immediate and extremely positive,” said Scott Kammerer, president and CEO of the restaurant group.

Matt Patton, Fish On’s general manager, agrees. He and the staff sampled the coffee before serving it to customers, a taste test that’s also applied to new wines and menu items. “With the first pot of Swell Joe that we brewed, our staff was instantly excited about this coffee,” Patton said. Like many customers, Patton is pleased that Swell Joe is a local business in the restaurant’s own backyard.

The business is the brainchild of Dave Vitella, founder of Surf Bagel, and Cape teacher Drew Johnson. The two are surfing buddies. Swell Joe’s roastery is located two doors down from Surf Bagel, off Routes 1 and 9. “How can you not love that?” asked Drexel Davison, owner of Bad Hair Day in Rehoboth Beach, who’s a frequent Surf Bagel patron. “It’s just plain cool.”

Davison is featuring Swell Joe’s Dubee roast from Kenya and Cut Back, a Colombia decaf, in his salon. Customers can enjoy the coffee by the cup and purchase it by the bag in the salon’s retail section. “It’s deliciously smooth,” Davison said of Dubee.

Swell Joe’s Blue Kai from Ethiopia has been included in Washington’s Green Grocer offerings. The home-delivery service brings organic and local produce and other items to customers in the D.C. area and the Cape Region. Owners John “Zeke” Zechiel and his wife Lisa, of Lewes, decided to offer Swell Joe coffee after trying it at Surf Bagel. They’ve added two other coffees from the Swell Joe collection, which also includes Awake from Guatemala, Mor-feen from Sumatra, Stoked from Colombia and Swell Joe’s newest Hawaiian-inspired roast, Mackers, a white-chocolate-macadamia-nut-flavored coffee.

Ami Rae, owner of The Backyard in Milton, says the coffees fit in well with her farm-to-table concept. “It’s fresh. It’s local, and it’s crazy good,” she says. “Nothing complements our homemade muffins like a cup of Swell Joe.”

Swell Joe’s brand meshes perfectly with Liquid Board Shop’s merchandise mix. Owner Michael Ridings sells six roasts and displays the bags near other surf-related products claiming, “It’s a mind-set. My customers identify with brands that are not too commercialized or mainstream; Swell Joe Coffee fits that bill.”

Farther south on Route One sits Baked in Dewey, where owner Pam Minos serves up homemade baked goods with a side of Swell Joe coffee to Dewey Beach regulars and tourists alike.

For more information on Swell Joe Coffee Company’s retail and wholesale division, call Vitella at 302-684-8201 or go to


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