Another fun local business feature! The Basin Bean is under new ownership and is now called Mellow Mug – right in Bushnell’s Basin. Nearly ALL of my clients love their coffee…they bring it to a session, they stop after the session…sometimes if I’m lucky they bring ME one too 😉 So I know you’ll love reading about Mellow Mug.
Matt and Bernie have been working hard to make it theirs and the hard work is paying off 🙂 The place looks great and the drinks are delicious! Stop in this Memorial Day weekend, grab an iced drink and relax on the deck overlooking the canal…heavenly!
What made you & your brother decide to run your own coffee house?
Matt and I both love coffee, music and the atmosphere in coffee shops in general. We’ve been sending each other pictures of latte art and perfect looking espressos for years, and whenever we’ve gotten together we’re most likely trying to find the world’s best coffee (the winner for me so far is in Little Italy in San Francisco) at a coffee shop & daydreaming about owning one and how we’d do it better, so we finally decided to jump in and make it a reality….
He’s worked and basically managed them before, and we always talked about the ways that the big guys cut corners and don’t make the best product that they could. Having our own shop gives us the ability to set our own standards and constantly tweak and improve things to our own (and our customers’) tastes, not to some corporate operating procedures guide!
I’ve helped start businesses before, but never my own. I love the entrepreneurial world, trying to find new cool ways to bring value to customers, and I think there’s a lot of opportunity here, especially as specialty coffee and craft beer are both booming right now!
Aside from this and we both love the area. We grew up in Wellsville, NY and have spent a ton of time on the Finger Lakes at our parents’ cottage – He was living in West Palm Beach, Fla and I am in Chattanooga, TN right now, but our parents are still there and we both really connect with the Western New York way of life and wanted to get back to being part of it! That part probably sounds crazy, I know, but it’s true – It’s home!
2. What do you love about your business?
We love the way people get excited about coffee and great food. Coffee is a sensual experience – there’s something different about the feeling you get when you drink a great cup of coffee than with any other food experience. It’s great to be able to give people that!
3. How do you decide which roasters your offer?
Right now, we’re offering Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters beans – they are local – we’ve toured their manufacturing facility and sat down with the owners to talk about their coffee – They have a lot of passion for their product, which we think is great. The beans we use, and all the beans in our bins we sell have usually been roasted within the last few days, but never more than a couple of weeks (some experts say a month is the longest you want to use roasted beans – although the big chains probably have multiple months old beans since they have to transport it all over the world before using it). They have a great selection of light and dark roasts, as well as some free trade and organic options, and their customer service is incredible. They really care about helping us make great coffee.
There’s also some history there… They started in our building in 1996, so I’m told, with a little roaster in the space where the dining room is now.
That being said we want to serve the best coffee we can find – and we’re definitely willing to listen to our customer experts if they have suggestions…
4. What sets Mellow Mug apart from other coffee houses in the area?
We want to make great coffee and serve great food, but we’re not coffee snobs, just coffee aficionados 🙂 The drinks are excellent and really made with care, so we’re a much better choice than any big chain that is just following procedures and completely focused on the bottom line, but we don’t want to have the air of elitism you see at some coffee shops, where you can’t pronounce half of the menu items and you’re afraid to ask them for cream and sugar for fear they’ll laugh at you for not knowing how you’re supposed to drink their coffee. We’ll gladly talk about our brewing techniques to anyone that’s interested, but if you just want a really delicious, simple to order, “Mellow” atmosphere with your coffee, that’s us.
Plus it’s not just coffee – We have a deck overlooking the canal where people can sit with a coffee and a cheese plate or a glass of wine / craft beer.
5. Describe Mellow Mug in 3 words.
Comfortable, Quality, Mellow (does that count? haha)
6. If you were to order a drink and a meal from Mellow Mug what would you order?
Bernie: I’m a huge breakfast fan, so I’d get a country ham and swiss breakfast sandwich, and for drinks I’m pretty simple – so I’d get a whole milk latte with at least one extra shot of espresso.
7. What is the most popular drink people order?
People really like the variety of beans, and we’re now offering both french press and pour over coffee, which means you can pick any one of the bean varieties and get a single cup, instead of just the one or two we decide to brew for the day. It’s a totally different way to experience coffee – the flavors are much more intense, and the freshness of having it brewed just for you is hard to beat.
8. Any exciting plans for Mellow Mug in 2016?
Well we’re hoping to have a lot of exciting things happen in 2015 first! Like I said, we’re in a transition period right now – we just got our new logo finished, we’re getting a sign soon so people know we’re here – we’re also completely re-doing the interior with new colors, new tables. The menu is getting a makeover too – we really want to focus on the quality of our coffee drinks, which means adjusting the sizes and coffee to water ratios so that you always know what you’re going to get, no matter what size you order, and it’s going to be delicious.
We’re also developing several new food menu items – we want to be a place where people can come, grab a drink or two and share a plate of food with their friends, really be a more casual atmosphere… so expect some excellent shareable plates in the near future, like local meat and cheese plates, hummus / veggie platters, mini slider-style sandwiches with tons of great fresh topping choices.
And, finally, music: We held our first open mic night and it was a huge success. We partnered with some local artist & musician groups to find some talent, and we were blown away by their skills. so expect to see a lot more music there in the near future – it’s a pretty cozy place inside, so we won’t be having any full four-piece rock bands, but we think it’s perfect for some mellow acoustic style music (like the coffee shop station on sirius, e.g)
Thanks so much to Mellow Mug for answering my questions and having me for a visit! This is a wonderful coffee shop, and I know all you mama’s will be stopping in for a cup and a treat soon 😉 xo