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Coffee Shop Brings New Life To Aging Area

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USF chapter.

On a run-down stretch of street in Tampa Heights, change is coming as developers plan and construction workers hammer.

Foundation Coffee Co., Tampa’s latest craft coffee venture, has played a part in revitalizing the facade of the area between Tampa Street and Florida Avenue.

Owners Jason and Emily Smith have opened two locations for their brand: in Riverview last year and now Tampa Heights.  The Tampa Heights location is only a block from the historic Rialto Theater and Hidden Springs Ale Works, a craft brewery.  A short walk will take visitors to Ulele, Water Works Park and Cafe Hey.

The shop is appealing to a variety of customers because of its proximity to downtown Tampa.  It is easily accessible, yet still remains a comfortable distance from the hustle and bustle—and traffic—of downtown.

Foundation stands out from other Tampa coffee shops because of its focus on community.  Barista Leianna Casella said that is why she chose to work at the company.

“[Foundation is] just all about community, which I think is great,” she said.

Curt Hensley, shop manager at the Tampa Heights location, said that the coffee community is a great way to meet people and start a conversation.

“I found so much joy in serving a great product and connecting with people over a simple cup of coffee,” he said.

Casella explained that Foundation is able to engage so strongly with the coffee community because the shop is a “multi-roaster.”  This means that the company does not roast its own coffee like most craft coffee shops; instead, they are able to try other companies’ beans and roasting methods.

“We get to dabble in other people’s roasting methods…which sharpens our ability as baristas,” Casella said.

Isabella Kosal is a regular visitor at Foundation.  She said that she also appreciates the close-knit feel of the coffee community, even as a customer. 

“I think the people here feel like family,” she said.

Lisa Chen is friends with Kosal and accompanied her to Foundation.  She said that it was her first visit and the shop struck her because of its uniqueness.

“The atmosphere here is really nice,” she said.

Casella agreed with Chen’s statement.

“People walk in and go, ‘wow,’” she laughed.

Casella explained that the owners have a knack for creating comfortable spaces.  They own an outdoor living store, and the Riverview location of Foundation is an outdoor shop. 

The Tampa Heights store features a kyoto wall, which is a slow-drip cold brew method.  Across the shop there is a floor-to-ceiling waterfall.  Dark gray walls and wooden tables lead visitors back to the shop’s patio, which is bright and cozy with plenty of green plants and wooden benches. 

Casella described the aesthetic of the Tampa Heights shop as “understated.”

“[The atmosphere] is simple, nice and sophisticated, but feels humble,” she said.

Hensley prides the Foundation brand on its ability to bring two seemingly opposite elements into a cohesive and inviting cafe.

“I have never seen or heard of any shops like ours that can mix outdoors and great coffee together,” he said.  “Our atmosphere and incorporation of outdoors is what helps us stand out initially when you walk in.”

Hensley added that he believes craft coffee helps the community grow.

“[Foundation is] fun and great for our community,” he said.

Morgan is a senior studying Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in English at USF. She also writes for WUSF News 89.7, The Oracle, CollegeFashionista, and USF PRSSA's blog.
I am a junior at the University of South Florida. I am specializing in Public Relations while pursuing certificates in Business and Visualization & Design. I hope to one day combine all of these and pursue law in the entertainment and even branch out to other passions in family law. While I am studying to achieve these dreams, I have furthered my collection of coffee cups and obsession with caffeine. I currently work as a barista and love to whip up new ideas, whether it be actual coffee creations or branding ideas. My other hobbies include enjoying short walks to the movies and my computer. This is usually to catch up on the latest and greatest shows. If it's not film, it is music. I love the thrill of listening to live music of my favorite and new bands. These inspire me to discover my individuality and brand, while challenging myself to help others find theirs.