Monday, July 20, 2009

Proper Noun of the Week #4: Brendan Walton

Day after day, Danielle DeBoe's Made in the 216 event continues to prove that it was much more than a well-conceptualized and merchandised local retail extravaganza, at least to me. For me, the best part of the event (other than the beer), was being turned on to so many interesting folks providing awesome goods and services I'd have never known about otherwise. From the high-end restaurant pastry chef moonlighting with homemade cookies and soft candies (think Chuckles, but far more awesome and gourmetish) to the guy who salvages old furniture, I have many future needs and wants fulfilled already. Among the most intriguing discoveries I made was the coffee available from Cleveland Coffee Company. My coffee maker at home uses coarser grounds appropriate for a French press, so I didn't get any, but I snagged a card and, within a few days, sent an email to the man in charge to see what the scoop was.

Brendan Walton, Cleveland Coffee Company's roaster, responded in an enthusiastic and energetic way, and after a few emails we had the official Proper Noun of the Week interview completed. Before letting you get straight to the Qs and As, let me give you the scoop on Walton's company.

Cleveland Coffee Company has been around for 6 years, located downtown in what I like to call the ballpark district. Over the years they've expanded their offerings, going from sales to area cafes and businesses to direct consumer sales with their online store. They are currently developing a new roasting works, to be located in Cleveland's Eco-Village neighborhood, located in the Detroit-Shoreway district.

1) How long have you been in Cleveland? And if you didn't grow up in Cleveland, where'd you relocate here from?

Brendan: I have lived in Cleveland all my life. Grew up in University Heights. Lived in Little Italy for 12 years. My wife and I moved downtown for a few years and now reside in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.

2) What is your favorite Cleveland memory?

Brendan: I have so many but the sports come to mind the most.Running down the concourse at the old Municipal Stadium in 1988 after the Browns came back to defeat the Houston Oilers on Christmas Eve in a huge second half blizzard. It was a 75,000 plus love fest with everyone high fiving and hugging each other. Unfortunately we lost in the playoffs the next week. Waiting for the Indians at the airport after they clinched the American League pennant (am I a geek?) and watching people flood out onto Huron Road after the Cavs beat Detriot to make it to the NBA finals.

3) How does (if at all) Cleveland influence your work?

Brendan: Clevelanders are great people and are true to the city. We know how to grind it out and keep on pushing. The atmosphere that surrounds me encourages work ethic.

4) What would be your ideal Cleveland day? Or, to put it another way, if it was your birthday and your nearest and dearest were all willing to do what you wanted, what would your day be like?

Brendan: Wake up and have a delicious cup of fresh roasted coffee from the Cleveland Coffee Company and take a family walk with my wife Trisha, our 2 year old daughter Gemma and our pugs, Mula and Biddy. Hook up with our yoga friends and have chief yogi, Rowan, guide us through a refreshing ashtanga class with a massage after. Take a nap. Feel the irie vibe and go out on a boat with friends and family and take a dip. Stop by Whiskey Island and have a cold beverage or two. Have Terry Tarintino cook out for us and tell us stories in the backyard. Then head downtown to our bar, A.J. Rocco’s for a pre party with family and friends then off to the House of Blues to see Carlos Jones and the PLUS band open up for the reunion gig of the Janglers. Invite everyone back to A.J. Rocco’s for a night cap. Give everyone some coffee for the next day Call Eli the taxi man and go home.

5) Say you had a friend coming in for 24 hours and had never been to Cleveland before. What would you make sure they saw and did?

Brendan: Hit up a yoga class. Do the University Circle shuffle. Little Italy for lunch. Coventry for a visit. Cruise around some of the beautiful neighborhoods. Show some of the on going and future downtown projects. Have a nice dinner somewhere with friends then head out on the lake for a sunset. An evening Tribe game or some night life. Give them a few pounds of fresh coffee and say nice to see ya.

6) What is something from another city you wish you could import to Cleveland?

Brendan: A larger population living downtown. A variety of shops in downtown and a world championship.

7) If you had the undivided attention of the mayor, city council, and county commisioners, what would be the one thing you'd ask for or tell them?

Brendan: Cut to the chase and build a development on the water front and ask how we can get more diverse shopping downtown.


To meet Brendan and check out his delicious blends of coffee yourself, stop by his cafe and bar, A.J. Rocco's, located smack dab between Progressive Field and the Q at 816 Huron Rd. If, however, Brendan's answers already sold you, check out the Cleveland Coffee Company's website here, where you can get more information on the numerous blends available, some helpful tips about brewing the best coffee you can, a pithy coffee glossary, and access to online ordering.

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