Small coffee, large cookie.

When I first heard about Burlap and Bean Coffee in Newtown Square, it was as the new music venue that was getting buzz in our area. Justin was the one to tell me about it and he, being a musician, could not wait to book a show there. At the time, we were most excited about the location (good music venues are rare in suburban Philadelphia) and the fact that the coffee house is a BYO. But the more we learned about Burlap and Bean, the more we liked.

In the run-up to Justin’s first show at B&B, he commented several times on the kindness of the booker, Tara Endicott. As a young musician booking shows, it’s not unusual to work with, ahem, creeps. But Tara and her business partners, Brent, Ben and Christi, are not only welcoming to the musicians they host, they actually go as far as to feed them before a show. And when I say musicians, I don’t mean Britney Spears. An extremely talented line-up of local and national acts comes through Burlap and Bean, and most of them don’t have extensive riders. In other words, the owners don’t feed the bands because they have to; they do it to support their community. To wit, Tara told me that in Burlap and Bean’s early days she would spend hours before a show making huge dishes of baked ziti and green salad for the band. Over time, a gourmet pizza from down the block has replaced the homemade ziti, but no one seems to be complaining… More than one band has told me that they prefer to play at Burlap and Bean over any other local venue.

This tangible feeling of community at Burlap and Bean has everything to do with the café’s owners. Brothers Brent and Ben Endicott, along with their wives Tara and Christi Endicott, opened Burlap and Bean in November 2006. Tara describes the family partnership as a four-legged chair; without one of them, the rest wouldn’t work. And as Brent puts it, “You’re not opening a coffee shop to get rich.” Instead, he explains that the rewards have more to do with being able to facilitate artists and community connections.

So what does all of this have to do with sustainability or local food? The short answer is that Burlap and Bean’s sense of community responsibility extends beyond music to the food and drink they serve. The coffee served at B&B is 100% Fair Trade Certified and organic, and made from beans roasted in house. Though the rest were quick to get on board, it was Ben who championed the exclusive use of Fair Trade and organic beans early on. By partnering with Transfair, Burlap and Bean ensures that the farmers who produce their coffee are paid a fair price for their labor and harvest. And by extension, Burlap and Bean customers are supporting these same farmers.

Many of the accompanying snacks, salads, sandwiches and baked goods are sourced from local producers. One of my favorite summer lunches this year included a House Mediterranean salad and an oatmeal cookie, both from B&B. The cookie was big enough for a meal itself, and maybe the best I've had.

It's no surprise that Burlap’s coffee beans have been picked up by several Whole Foods locations in greater Philadelphia, the Coffee Club and Selene Whole Foods Coop in Media to name a few. Most recently, B&B became the exclusive supplier of coffee to the White Dog Café in University City, and soon to be in Wayne. Founded in 1983 by community activist Judy Wicks, the White Dog is celebrated in Philadelphia for its support of local food and social activism. That they chose to carry Burlap and Bean speaks to the micro-roasters’ success. Or in Tara’s words, “[Getting picked up by White Dog] was like winning the Oscar for local small business. We feel so honored.”

For more information on Burlap and Bean, visit their site. Or better yet, bring a book and stop in for a coffee. I hear they have an excellent espresso roast...

And stay tuned tomorrow for an exciting Fresh event announcement!

{ Photos courtesy of Burlap and Bean and Jeff Wojtaszek Photography }


  1. This just shows how fixed this site is. I will say it again the service sucks!

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  3. What a good article this is ~ and every word is true about this place! There passion for locally grown food, their kindness and attention to excellence is unsurpassed.

  4. As a self-professed coffee nut, there's no better spot for a cup than Burlap and Bean... and I always get mine with a friendly smile. Thanks for doing this article Cat, I hope more people discover what a wonderful place they have in their community.

  5. Agreed friends! Already looking forward to my (decaf) coffee there next Wednesday night... As well as deciding which cookie I might need.