The Google lounge inside the Tampa Convention Center is a bright, multi-colored arena of all things media.
Journalists who aren't typing feverishly on laptops, exchanging business cards or watching the latest news on flatscreen TV's are gripping white cups of a local concoction that's causing a buzz all its own.
South Tampa business Buddy Brew Coffee has set up shop this week inside the lounge during the Republican National Convention, showcasing its bold brew and upbeat customer service style for all the world to see.
We talked to self-described "coffee freak" David Ward, who runs the business with his wife Susan, about how Buddy Brew made its way from South Tampa to the RNC.
Patch: How did you get involved with the RNC?
Ward: We were contacted by a company that represents Google, their production company. They basically "Googled" us and found us. There were two things - a referral from a friend in Tampa, and the fact that they researched us.
Patch: What do you want people to know about your family business, especially visitors who are in town for the RNC?
Ward: We are a roasting company, first and foremost. We got started about four years ago. It's not just coffee, it's the community of coffee. We are very much into establishing direct trade relationships with growers of coffee. We have our first foray into that in Haiti. We're working with missionaries and assisting them, and they are planting coffee plants like crazy, building processing facilities. If you want the best cup of coffee in Tampa Bay, you gotta go to Buddy Brew.
Patch: What makes your coffee and coffee shop business different from others in south Tampa?
Ward: We do buy the best of the best beans in the world. We have 15-20 beans on hand. It takes at least 12 hours to get the roast right. That's kind of our recipe.
Tampa is about 10 years behind the rest of the coffee world. When we opened here, it was great timing, and the community was voraciously hungry for coffee.
Patch: Why do you think it’s important for small business owners to have a presence at the RNC?
Ward: It's the opportunity of a lifetime. We're serving journalists from France, and almost every country. You name it, they're here covering this thing.
Patch: Where did the name Buddy Brew come from?
Ward: Our dog, Buddy, who is a mutt. We think he's a golden retriever, collie, yellow lab mix.
Buddy Brew can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by going to the shop's website.
Have you been to Buddy Brew? What do you think? Tell us in the comments.