Owners: Will Gross (left) and Max Cudworth (right)
So, tell us how Ox Coffee started brewing?
Max: We first had the idea in 2012 right after Hurricane Sandy. We were both living in Brooklyn. Will was roasting coffee for Stumptown in Brooklyn and the facility was destroyed by the storm. Everyone who worked at Stumptown had to figure something else out. I ran into Will at a bar one day. We chatted and found out we were both independently thinking of ideas to open a coffee related business on our own. After the storm, Will hit me up and was like “Hey, I think I’m going to move to Philly and do something if you want to be a part of it and join forces.”
Will: We had known each other for years. We worked together at Joe Coffee on 13th Street in Manhattan years before the storm. But in 2012 after the storm hit, that’s when we started planning.
It was pretty serendipitous. We stayed friends after Joe Coffee but then randomly bumped into each other and realized we had similar ideas and concepts. Not identical, but similar in that they were both coffee related. My family is from Philadelphia originally, so I thought of Philly as the spot. New York is pretty limiting. It’s tough for small businesses. You have to have so much financial backing. We wanted to do it on own own if possible and Philly provided the opportunity to be in a neighborhood like this - great people, awesome businesses - and start something.
How did you choose Queen Village?
Max: We just love this spot and the neighborhood. We looked at tons of places all over the city. There was something about this particular space though with the window and great light. And the neighborhood is really family oriented with down to earth people. It still has character and a lot of small businesses. We like that mix of people.
Will: There’s a lot of mom and pops in the area and not too many big corporate names. And you get a real neighborhood vibe that way. People are working together to build a community and neighborhood together. That’s pretty unique to this neighborhood. Especially in Philly.
What makes Ox Coffee different and unique?
Max: Well, we don’t have wifi! We really wanted to create a space for people to come together, socialize in the neighborhood, be with each other and listen to great music without everyone being on their computers. We knew we didn’t want a coffee shop that had a computer lab kind of vibe.
Ox Coffee is a very social environment. We’re both musicians too, so that’s a big part of the concept here. We play records all day. We have a fun collection of music that we listen to. We also have community events, first Friday art shows and rotating art series, live music in the shop. Oh and the coffee is excellent as well!
Will: Max and I both worked for years and years in coffee at all levels. Roasting and baristing and selling. That experience helps us as owners and managers and being able to communicate with customer base. It also helps us train our employees. Pursuing music and the arts is huge for us. We are always trying to sell local music and records. We have a little bin going now. And our rotating art. We are trying to push local artists and keep that spirit alive.
How often do you have live music?
Will: We try to do it every other month. In the beginning we did it A LOT. It was great, (both laughing) but we started getting really run down and never slept.
Max: So now we have a big party usually on first Friday of every other month. We put a new art series up and a few fans or musicians come to play. So we blow it out every couple months. It’s great!
So why choose clean energy with Inspire?
Will: For me, it’s the chance to use a clean energy source and have it be affordable. That is something I’ve never known to exist until recently. To be able to choose clean energy and pay similar rates as what we were paying, it was a no brainer. Not to get political, but certain things are running out. We can't keep going down that road. As a business owner, to be able afford something that makes such a difference just makes sense.
Max: The other thing that is really cool is that gives us a chance to reduce our carbon footprint. If you look at the chain of events it takes to bring coffee from a farm in Latin America or a farm in Africa to your cup in a cafe, there is so much energy that is used. The amount of energy that goes into creating one cup of coffee is huge.
What else do you do here at Ox to reduce your footprint?
Max: We encourage people to bring their own mugs for coffee to go. We give a discount if they do that. We encourage people to have coffee to stay here at Ox as much as possible.
Will: Coffee tastes better out of a porcelain mug anyway! Not everyone wants to have their coffee here, but we’ve built Ox Coffee in a way to encourage people to stay.
What do your customers think about Ox Coffee choosing clean energy?
Max: We are definitely proud saying that we use renewable, clean energy. Our customers absolutely get behind that!
Visit Ox Coffee:
616 S. 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147