Recently, Eva Avenue sat down for a quick chat with Paul Fiore, owner of Fiore’s Sweet Cup in Gainesville, FL, and Fiore’s Frosty Jack’s in Alachua.
I met Paul Fiore on a trip to Americus, GA, for an anniversary party with Cafe Campesino, the roastery that gave birth to the importing company Co-op Coffees that makes magic happen for small-scale coffee roasters and farmers every year. He was chatty and excited to be meeting the coffee producers from Guatemala, Peru and Colombia who grow the beans he brews at Fiore’s Sweet Cup and Fiore’s Frosty Jack’s.
So I asked him how he takes his coffee, and how he even got into coffee in the first place.
After being a firefighter for 32 years as well as working in an ambulance down in Miami, he got restless and found part-time work at an Autozone for a few months. But you know what? He always loved it when he walked into a restaurant, or any business, and the owner was there to greet him. It’s kind of exciting to - pop!- meet the owner. And he thought, you know what? I want to open a coffeeshop and know everybody’s name when they come in.
“But I always had a side business,” he said. “I had a mobile oil-change service. I even had a fire truck and took it to birthday parties for kids, but I never had any established business; like, I didn’t know how to keep it going, you know what I mean.”
He didn’t know anything about coffee, and his family wasn’t necessarily a line of business owner. His dad retired as a fireman and his mom was a homemaker. So when his broker suggested he buy the business for where Fiore’s Sweet Cup is today, Paul was ready to jump. The previous owner had been selling some kind of “Italian coffee.” When Paul hired some former Starbucks employees, they told him his coffee didn’t taste good and that he should look into buying fair-trade organic coffee. He looked deeper into the coffee they’d been carrying and found the guy had been buying it from TJ Maxx and this particular coffee was pumped with nitrogen as a preservative.
“That can’t be good,” he said. “I can’t remember his name, but the organic coffee company I talked to first, this guy from Trinidad would come in, his son had a roaster in Gainesville. I said, ‘alright bring me a few bags.’ It didn’t taste that good to me but I wasn’t a coffee freak yet. I didn’t know what good coffee tasted like at the time. So he brought me these bags, I wish I could remember the name, but anyway the son never got back with me. I said, ‘I’m going to go with someone else.’ I talked to Tina (from Sweetwater Organic Coffee) and there was a connection right away. She just helped me from the beginning and then we went from there.”
It’s also delicious coffee.
“And now I know that!”
How do you take your coffee?
“2 different ways. In the morning….this morning the Ethiopian and Peru tango, I never mixed it before. I like it black with just a little splash of half & half maybe. If I’m going home from work I like iced coffee with vanilla syrup and half & half.”