Coffee shops offer customers various options to get their coffee fix

Mike Vehar of 3-19 Coffee harvesting coffee beans. Courtesy of Mike Vehar.

People may not be back in the office yet due to COVID-19, but they still need their coffee. 3-19 Coffee in Shaker Heights and Tree City Coffee in Kent are both giving customers various options to choose from when it comes to getting their coffee fix.

Mike Vehar is one of the owners of 3-19 Coffee. Not only does the coffee shop serve people in the local community, but it also ships coffee to customers all over the country. 

“We are all specialty coffee roasters,” Vehar said. “We source and import our own coffee.”

3-19 Coffee opened on March 19, 2017, starting with just three people, now they have around 10 full and part-time employees. They get coffee imported from the “bean belt,” which is composed of major coffee growing countries like Honduras, Colombia, Brazil and Ethiopia. 

The partners travel to visit their farmers about every 18 months. They have created and built relationships with the farmers, as they wanted to know where the coffee came from and get to know the people in the community. 

3-19’s coffee is shipped into California, where Vehar’s partner, Mike Weaver, lives. The coffee is then roasted in a co-roasting facility in Berkeley. Vehar said there are about 30 other companies that roast coffee at the Berkeley facility. From there, the coffee is bagged and shipped to grocery stores, offices, whole-salers, customers and cafes. 

Then the pandemic hit.

“Since COVID has hit, its obviously affected us drastically just like everyone else,” Vehar said.

In April the 3-19 Coffee took a 12 percent hit on revenue. Vehar was surprised the number was so low. People were not working in offices like they were before the pandemic, so sales to the offices declined and their cafe was take-out only with reduced hours. On the other hand, grocery store sales were up and the company was also pushing for more online sales.

When Gov. Mike DeWine lifted some of the pandemic’s restrictions on May 21, 3-19 stayed closed for two more weeks and then reopened with tables spaced out. They have sanitizing procedures in place as well as requiring masks for employees and gloves while handling food. 3-19 also requires customers to wear a mask when they come into the shop.

Vehar said their drinks and food sales have slowed, but purchases of bags of coffee have increased. He also said they’re looking to see where they can make cuts to help them financially.

“We have to stay open to survive here, but at the same time as a human being, I don’t like putting people in harm’s way,” Vehar said. “So it’s that much more important that we make sure our employees and customers are following the strict protocols to keep everyone safe.”

While 3-19 can serve your coffee delivery needs, Tree City Coffee in Kent can serve the public coffee through their drive-thru or inside their shop. Rebekah Gillespie took over ownership of the coffee shop May 1 and said sales are down 50 percent since the pandemic started, but business on Saturdays has been picking up.

The shop has limited seating to ensure social distancing and Gillespie said they are trying to keep staff and customers safe with cleaning and other measures like hand sanitizer machines. They also encourage customers to wear masks, although it is not required.

“I recently added three air cleaners since the garage door can not be open during certain weather conditions,” Gillespie said. 

She also said since taking over she has implemented new items to the menu like wine frappes or wine slushies and will be adding homemade sangria. In the fall, the plan is to add sandwiches and soups. 

“I am hoping for the best and thankful for the continued support the community has given us,” Gillespie said.  

Orders for 3-19 Coffee can be placed on their website. They also provide trial packs of coffee and merchandise on the site. Their original location in Shaker Heights is also open, as well as  their newer location in Ohio City.

At Tree City Coffee, customers can stop by the shop and can pre-order using their app for no-contact service.

Contact Nicole Harness at [email protected]