Barge Blend Making Mark on Web

Mollie Reilly

Over the winter break, the Barge Canal Coffee Company’s business exploded as buzz about the café’s Colgate Blend spread across the internet.

Publicity about the coffee was sparked when Sports Illustrated online columnist Peter King, father of senior Mary Beth King, mentioned the coffee in his “Monday Morning QB” column published in late November on SI.com.

“You want a good, strong, not overly oppressive cup of coffee? I mean, borderline French Roast, with about 75 percent of the bite? Colgate Blend, from The Barge in Hamilton, N.Y. Drank it most of the weekend, and I’m going to have order some more,” King wrote on November 26.

Soon after the article was released, Barge manager Judy Schenk began receiving calls and e-mails requesting that the Colgate Blend be shipped to coffee fans in New York, Massachusetts and even North Dakota. As more and more requests flooded the coffeehouse, Schenk contacted the Bookstore’s Linda Gregory, who is in charge of merchandise sales, and Marty Bair, who manages Bookstore marketing, to see if they could handle online sales of the beans. The Bookstore complied, and on December 24 King again mentioned the coffee in his column, this time with a web address where customers could purchase the coffee directly from the Bookstore.

Orders spiked over the next few days as numerous customers followed King’s recommendation. The blend’s popularity was an unprecedented sales event for the Bookstore and Barge alike.

“We’re really excited,” Schenk said. “We’ve shipped coffee all over the country.”

The blend was developed by Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters and has been available in the café’s drinks and for purchase for about six years. The blend was a result of close work with Colgate students, who tested the coffee until they found a taste that appealed to both the student body and general public alike.

“We just mixed a lot of beans until we found what kids wanted, and then I contacted Finger Lakes and they roasted the coffee for us,” said Schenk.

The blend’s popularity continued as students returned to campus. In addition to steady online sales, in-store sales flourished after articles published on RadioFreeHamilton.com and the Mid-York Weekly newspaper discussed the coffee’s recent popularity.

“We’ve had a lot of locals interested in the Colgate Blend, which is really great,” Schenk said.