With this cold, winter weather filling the air, what better way to warm up than with a free cup of coffee? To celebrate more than two decades in Westfield and six months in Summit, Ahrre Maros, owner of Ahrre's Coffee Roastery, is offering customers a free cup of coffee all day, every day, from February 11th through 15th. Coffee lovers can stop by either location and enjoy one free cup per customer every 30 minutes.
Raised in Summit, Maros fell in love with everything about the coffee culture back in the mid-1980's, when he was living and going to school in the San Francisco Bay area. When he returned to his hometown, with the help of his family, Maros set up shop in Summit and Westfield. That was 23 years ago, Maros, explained. Though his Summit business, which included live music offerings, closed in 1997, he was thrilled when an opportunity to return to his roots presented itself last year. Maros opened in Mondo Summit, which he likened to a "Union County replica of Chelsea Market," in August.
While Maros said it's been a busy six months since he began brewing in the four-story vertical mall, he couldn't be happier with how things are going. He recently started hosting a 'happy hour' from 4 to 6 p.m. during which all beverages are half-price. The entrepreneur said he is always open to hearing suggestions from customers and other business owners.
"Annette Dwyer of Summit is Mondo's owner and visionary," said Maros. "She has been a huge support for all of us. She's our cheerleader."
When asked for the secret to his success, Maros said with a laugh, "I borrowed a lot of money from my parents, so there was no quitting. Also, what were my alternatives? To go out and get a real job?"
Maros credits the love and support of his family, particularly his mom--his first employee--with keeping him afloat during the recent economic slowdown.
"If you looked at this as solely a business, it would be a losing proposition, but for me, it was my child," he said.
Speaking of his family, Maros said another wonderful thing that has happened to him recently has been bringing his nephew into his business.
"He's roasting coffee for me, he's running errands," said Maros. "It's been huge for me. He really cares. He's taken on a lot of responsbility and he's doing phenomenally well."
Now that he's on "better footing," Maros said he looks forward to expanding. While his fresh roasted blends and flavors are available online, the business owner hopes to eventually have as many as 10 Ahrre's Coffee Roasteries in the Garden State.
Coffee With Conscience
In an effort to give back to the community, Maros combines his love of coffee and live music by presenting the Coffee With Conscience Concert Series, a seven-show series running from October through May at the First United Methodist Church of Westfield. The series supports the following charities: Contact We Care (Westfield), Homefirst (Plainfield), Habitat for Humanity (Plainfield), the Community Food Bank of NJ (Hilside) and the Keith Knost Special Needs Fund (Mountainside). Each beneficiary has at least one concert dedicated to it during the season.
Now in its 13th season, the next performance, father/son duo Beaucoup Blue, will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16. The show will benefit the NJ Community Foodbank. The Westfield Service League generously supports the endeavor, Maros noted, and helped pay for the sound system. Tickets can be purchased online in advance by going to: beaucoupblue2.eventbrite.com
A Cup of Joe for G.I. Joe
In addition to supporting local charitable efforts, this fall Maros partnered with Westfield High School students and teacher Thomas Hornish to send more than 60 pounds of coffee to U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.
Student government president and Ahrre's employee Alex Jeffery brought the idea to Maros after a classmate whose brother is on active duty in Afghanistan shared that coffee there was often scarce and what was available was poor quality.
In just two days more than $700 was raised by students, explained Jeffery. "We believe that these men and women who are fighting for our freedom deserve, at the very least, a decent cup of coffee."
Maros said he had been wondering how he could get involved with supporting the troops either personally or professionally.
"When Alex told me about his teacher's idea I was thrilled," Maros said. "Here was the perfect opportunity to participate in something larger than I had thought possible. Of course, I didn't just want to be the vendor that supplied the coffee. I wanted to share in the gifting as well. So I offered to donate a free pound for every five the group purchased for the troops. The group raised enough money to buy 52 pounds of coffee. I added 10 more pounds."
Visit Ahrre's Coffee Roastery and pick up a free cup of coffee this week at 104 Elm St. in Westfield from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and at 426 Springfield Ave. in Summit from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.