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Coffee roasting provides needed boost to Drip Café during pandemic

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Drip Cafe

Drip Café owner Greg Vogeley shows off his new coffee roaster.

Over the winter, Drip Café owner Greg Vogeley decided to take the next step in his business and start roasting his own coffee beans. He picked out an all-electric coffee roaster and had it delivered to his restaurant on North College Avenue.

Vogeley saw the addition of the roaster as a way to strengthen Drip Café’s brand, build a new revenue stream and have more control over his coffee offerings, but little did he know just how important it would become to keeping his business afloat.

The roaster was delivered in early March, and just a few days later, the coronavirus pandemic hit Delaware, and the governor shutdown much of the economy.

Like most restaurants, Drip Café’s business model was upended. Vogeley temporarily closed the Newark location and kept his Hockessin location open for take-out. He went from 50 employees down to nine.

Though the Newark restaurant was closed, Vogeley was hard at work inside learning the finer points of roasting coffee and producing up to 200 pounds each week. He sold the coffee beans online, shipping them to 16 states and doing personal deliveries here in Delaware.

“It’s a nice way to create a new revenue stream as our economy changes,” Vogeley said.

During the pandemic, he reviewed all aspects of his business, retooled the website and created a new online ordering system. Selling the coffee beans allowed him to keep a connection with his customers.

“The response has been great from our customer base,” he said. “People wanted to support Drip Café, and people wanted to support Greg Vogeley, but they didn’t know how.”

His restaurants reopened to customers in June, and he has gradually brought back some of his employees.

Drip Café now exclusively serves house-roasted coffee, offering six to seven varieties at any given time. All are fair trade or direct trade and are named for songs.

His first blend is named “Bold as Love,” after the Jimi Hendrix song, which was the first song Vogeley played when he opened his Hockessin café. Another, which raises money for the Friends of Fusion Foundation, is called “Running on Empty” after the Jackson Browne song.

Drip Café opened in Hockessin in 2013 and expanded to Newark in 2018. It sells a variety of breakfast, brunch and lunch items, but has always had a strong focus on its coffees. The creation of Drip Roasting Co. continues that, Vogeley said.

“It feels like I’ve completed the circle of my coffeehouse,” he said.

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