Buddy Brew: A Review

28 Jan

I am a thirty year old man.  I have been drinking coffee regularly since I was 18.  It started with late nights in Denny’s and IHOP.  Then it was Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, every morning, for at least the past five years.  Do I love the coffee at either of those places enough to crave it every morning?  No.  I do not.  However, I am lazy and hate getting up for work.  My morning routine is choreographed to the picosecond.  If there are four cars ahead of me at Dunkin’ Donuts, I will be late for work.  If there are three, I will be on-time.  I simply cannot force myself to get up and make my own coffee.  It’s sad really.

I don’t have a coffee palette.  I can’t taste the difference in bean varieties, or locations, or organic-ness.  I would love to, but I don’t, as of yet.  I drink whatever black sludge is served to me.  I have had exactly three memorable coffee experiences out of the thousands of times I’ve consumed coffee.  It’s horribly depressing.  The first was a shot of Turkish mud at some crepe place in Ybor that I’m sure is defunct.  The second was a cup of Blue Mountain from Emeril’s restaurant in Orlando.  And the third happened last week when I stopped by Buddy Brew in Tampa. 

Buddy Brew is a coffee geek’s paradise.  It’s sleek and simple and small.  There’s a countertop setup, a thrift store table with four chairs, two comfortable loungey-type chairs and a couch.  And there’s a glorious giant, shiny, roaster right smack dab in the middle of the place.  There’s also a back room secreted away behind a curtain.  I don’t know what goes on back there but it either involves ninjas, an interdimensional portal, or some sort of soul trade.  Because the coffee is that good.

I have to admit, I was a little intimidated going in.  But I pushed past it and I ordered a cappuccino.  It was made for me by a barista (I hate that word), by a coffee genius, who looked not a little unlike Toby McGuire.  My girlfriend was very “excited” about that, as I was told more than once throughout the remainder of the day. 

The cappuccino was, without a doubt, the best cappuccino I have ever had.  I almost passed out.  It made me feel like my tongue has been wrapped in medical gauze for the past 12 years.  I tasted things in the espresso that I never thought possible.  I always laughed at coffee nerds when they talk about earthiness and chocolate undertones and nutty flavors, but they were there.  I couldn’t believe it.  For an unenlightened coffee cretin like me, it was a revelation.  

As I sipped this delicious beverage alone in a corner pondering what a sham my life had been up to that point, I eavesdropped on the shop’s crew.  They were talking about roasting and beans and profiling and Billy Bragg was crooning overhead.  It was awesome.  I landed in the middle of the yet-to-be-written Nick Hornby coffee novel!  I was in the Championship Vinyl of espresso joints.  These guys were not fooling around.  This was serious.  Top 5 Bean Varieties Grown Near Villages Of Less Than 100 People On The Side Of An East African Mountain.  Go.

I finished my cappuccino, contemplated ordering another one, decided against it, and bought a bag of beans that was roastmarked the day before.  I didn’t know the difference between any of the bags or what I was buying, but I knew I had never had coffee that was roasted less than 24 hours ago.  I’ve been drinking it all week, and it is fantastic.

Buddy Brew is great.  My hat is off, and my life is changed.  This humble shop is a lighthouse in a dark sea of caffeinated dreck.  Go there and caffeinate.  Go there and caffeinate, now.

Buddy Brew
2020 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33606

Buddy Brew Coffee on Urbanspoon

9 Responses to “Buddy Brew: A Review”

  1. Tony January 29, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    Jesus! I wonder what would happen to you if you had a cappuccino in Italy. You’d probably Make a messy in ur pants.

  2. Tampa Bay Food Monster February 3, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    wow…. this was beautiful! it makes me wish i didn’t think coffee tastes like ass. do you think this place has the power to convert a non-believer? perhaps by way of their ninjoid inter-dimensional soul-sucking portal?


  3. Raj Armani February 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    Hello Steve,
    Found you on UrbanSpoon,Very Informative Write Ups!
    My name is Raj Armani and I am the manager at Bollywood Cafe
    (www.bollywoodcafe.us). We,the crew,would love to invite you
    to our cine-bistro to enjoy a casual evening any weekend and dine
    some modern indian cuisine.
    If you like to make reservations,Please email me direct at
    info@bollywoodcafe.us. The dinner is of course complimentary
    and the invitation a mark of indian hospitality.

    Looking forward to seeing you soon!
    ‘Phir Milenge’

    Raj Armani

  4. Taylynn February 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Another great review! You make me laugh, that’s for sure. Being a coffee fiend (the kind that works full time and goes to school 5 nights a week) my blood caffine level is probably somewhere in the range of 68%. I’ll have to try this place, since I’m always on the lookout for new places to be a foodie at. Keep up the good work! :D

  5. Jonathan C. Mitchell June 29, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Great write up! My first visit to Buddy Brew made my brother-in-law and me roast our own coffee. We live too far from Buddy Brew to frequent it so we asked a lot of questions and they were more than happy to answer. I still try and get down there at least once a week for a latte just because it really is the best latte around. Great staff, location, and coffee.

    • thefoodjunk June 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

      Thanks! I love that place.

      What do you guys use to roast? I’ve always wanted to get into that.

  6. Alan Jarrett September 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    Buddy Brew Rocks! Phil has got the roasting down, Mandy and Mike have got it goin’ at the counter, and Josh and Kim have got things under control on other fronts! As an avid student of coffee searching for years in the Tampa Bay area for just such a coffee shop that is self contained you will not find one better.

    David and Susan have done it right, with well trained coffee nuts disguised as employees! They may be young but don’t be fooled, as they are walking coffee encyclopedias! They won’t try to bluff you but have done it, tried it, tasted it, with no diplomas on the wall.

    Add to that a nice, comfortable, laid back atmosphere, with scratch made scones by Josh that if you have one there’s a good chance you’ll have to have a second. I did! They’re that good.

    Now even if you don’t know Ethiopian Harrar from Peru La Florida, or Premium from Estate, the coffee is first class. And what you really have to like about Dave and Susan, is they want to promote the under-sung coffee farmers of the world as they are doing with a group in Hatti. These are my kinda people and I haven’t even met them yet in person!

    But don’t take my word for it! You don’t know me from Adam’s housecat, and i could just be a plant to drum up business. So I dare you to go check it out. Who knows, maybe I’ll treat you to a cup if you comment that you read this and that’s why you’re there. I don’t work there, but I would.


  1. Tweets that mention Buddy Brew: A Review « Tampa Bay Bites -- Topsy.com - January 28, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Buddy Brew Coffee, Food Junk. Food Junk said: New local review: Buddy Brew. Think of the worst coffee youve ever had. This is the opposite of that http://bit.ly/eqklo4 (@BuddyBrewCoffee) […]

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