The "Coffee Calfes," which were launched a few weeks ago, were put into the stores to take advantage of the current coffee craze, said William Hollis, director of operations for the independent.
Since the last of April when the Coffee Calfe with its trendy coffee menu was launched here, the store's total sales of fresh brewed coffee have tripled, Hollis said.
"We'd been selling regular coffee by the cup all along near the salad bar, and now we're selling more there, too. Those sales combined with coffee sales at the Calfe itself are just about three times what we'd been selling previously," he said.
Featured at the 15-foot Coffee Calfe are espresso, cappuccino and latte, all $1.49 for a 10-ounce cup, and $2.25 for a 16-ounce cup. Regular coffee is 75 cents for a 10-ounce cup and $1 for a 16-ounce cup, the same price as at the coffee station near the salad bar.
Teas in such flavors as Lemon Zinger and blackberry also are available. The coffee bar was given its name to tie in with the Stew Leonard's dairy-store theme. The store is built to look like a huge barn and features such attractions as animated cows and calves.
In addition to tea and coffee, a limited variety of baked goods are offered at Coffee Calfe. On a recent visit to the store here, SN found that crullers at 35 cents each were the only item offered that day.
"But we're experimenting with different things each day," Hollis said. "Today we tried bagels and cream cheese. Biscotti is the mainstay, but we'll keep trying different items from our bakery. We've had bundt cake by the slice for 35 cents.
Asked if the Coffee Calfes would offer lunch-type items, he said that was a big possibility. Perhaps sandwiches at lunchtime, and maybe in the evening, but there are no particular plans for it right now, he said.
"We'll listen to what our customers want," Hollis added. "One of our employees just told me this week that customers in the evening often order three or four cups of coffee to take out and there was no way to pack them up well. So I got some of those rigid trays that you stand containers in."
There is no seating at the store here because "there just isn't enough room," Hollis said. "Even parking is a problem here."
Hollis said one of the features that sets the Calfe apart from other coffee bars is that coffee beans are roasted right there. But then, much of Stew Leonard's business is based on fresh foods.
"We bought a roaster for each store, and we get green coffee beans and roast them at the front of the Calfe," he said. "It's not so much the aroma, it's that we wanted people to see us roasting the beans fresh. It just confirms our mission, and that's fresh, fresh, fresh and quality at a good price."
The Coffee Calfe displaces a popcorn program which has been moved to the deli. Bulk coffee has been moved from the deli to the Calfe. It is sold by the pound and customers can grind their own.
The Calfe is run by the coffee department, which is separate from the deli and bakery departments, Hollis said. And it gets the ring for bakery items or any others sold there.
"We have an internal transfer system. We buy the items from other departments at cost," Hollis added.
Oversized coffee mugs sporting the Stew Leonard's logo are sold at the coffee bar for $3.19. Included with the purchase of the mug is a free cup of coffee.