Susan Kennedy remembers when she and her husband, Daniel, were considering the best time to open Tend Coffee in Shirley. Rather than launching before the holidays, they opted for Jan. 4, 2013.
Before opening, “I would have a vision that there would be a line out the door,” said Susan Kennedy, 42, of Moriches, who started home roasting around 2010. They expanded to a warehouse in Center Moriches and went around to farmers markets before launching the retail location at 924 Montauk Hwy., next to Friendly’s.
It took lots of community outreach and longer she than would have liked before Kennedy’s full dream became a reality, but then one day, it did.
“A few years later, I was looking over the espresso bar and seeing this line of people and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s my vision,’” she told GreaterMoriches.
Now seven years old, Tend has expanded to include Tend Coffee@Sachem Library, a concession inside the library (Kennedy calls it “The Outpost”) with two people who work strictly there and three staffers who split their time between the two locations.
“It’s cool because it shares the culture,” Kennedy said.
Tend Coffee also has a solid wholesale business, with clients including Provisions Natural Foods Market in Sag Harbor, North Sea Farms in Southampton, Garden of Eve Organic Farm & Market in Riverhead and Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue.
And then there are the four farmers markets Tend attends each year: in Riverhead during the winter and in East Hampton, Port Jefferson and Westhampton Beach during the summer.
“When we started, it was just Dan and I,” Susan Kennedy said, sipping a new roast called the Komodo Dragon, whose beans come from the island of Flores in Indonesia.
Dan, 44, does all the roasting at a facility now in North Shirley.
The couple both are certified organic coffee roasters and graduates of Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. She has a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts and he has a bachelor’s in food service management. They both have master’s degrees in food service education.
Now Tend has a staff of 15 and the Kennedys are on the hunt for another location, but they haven’t found the perfect spot yet.
“There’s so much that goes into it,” Susan Kennedy said. “Our goal is to grow. It’s really about touching more lives. That, to me, is bigger than having another store.”
After seven years, Susan said she’s come to know what her regulars like and don’t like, and she’ll make recommendations.
Among this month’s specialties: tiramisu latte, cherry almond tart latte, candy and raspberry latte, dark chocolate anisette, a shakaratto and a red love latte. Last month, its popular birthday cake latte was on the menu.
Susan has her own personal favorite special blend. It’s two shots of espresso, one pump of vanilla, ice and a touch of heavy cream. Then shake. “It’s great for summer afternoons,” she said.
The impact Tend has had on the community is something she does not take for granted.
“We’re sometimes the first people see in the morning. That’s a huge part of someone’s life. It’s what I dreamed of: to be that little coffee shop where people feel comfortable to stop at.”
To reach this point, Susan said, “It means I’ve found my place in the world.”