NORFOLK, Va. - When attending a game at Norfolk's Harbor Park, like many baseball stadiums - you can find beer, pizza, peanuts and Cracker Jack. But one concession you cannot purchase at a Norfolk Tides home game?
"In July, August - usually the last thing someone is looking for is a hot cup of coffee," explained Joe Gregory, general manager of the Norfolk Tides - the Triple-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles.
Even though the Tides do not sell coffee, you can, indeed, get your coffee fix from the Norfolk Tides. To serve up those details, we found our own cup of Joe, as Gregory explains our area's coffee connections. According to Gregory, with the nation's third-highest concentration of people employed in coffee and tea processing, our region is the East Coast Capital of Coffee.
"We were kicking around ideas, trying to find something we're good at and that's special to us," Gregory explained about his franchise's idea to adopt a new idea for a single game last season. "I feel like this is something pretty universal, and I think this can have some run for years to come."
On July 20, 2019, the Norfolk Tides transformed their identity to the Norfolk Coffee for one game only - a contest in which Norfolk was victorious. More than a year later, it's still a win - even despite the 2020 Minor League Baseball season being canceled due to COVID-19. Norfolk Coffee merchandise has been some of the Tides' top-selling gear. Recently, the Norfolk Coffee caps were showcased on Major League Baseball Network. Since last October alone, the Tides have sold Norfolk Coffee merchandise in 29 different states.
"That doesn't even count when we kicked it off originally, because we switched websites," Gregory explained to News 3 Sports Director Adam Winkler during an interview on National Coffee Day. "So we can't track it all the way back, but I'm pretty confident we hit all 50 states."
And after a successful, albeit brief, re-branding as the Norfolk Coffee - the Tides have something else brewing.
"There's always going to be Norfolk Coffee, but we're going to find the next thing, too," Gregory said. "We have a couple ideas we're kicking around now."
So we might as well grab a cup of java as we wait for baseball to return.
Commemorative Norfolk Coffee merchandise packages are currently available online at Tides.milbstore.com. While supplies last, the New Era 5950 hats, available in both “Hot Coffee” and “Iced Coffee,” come in a Norfolk Coffee Burlap Sack and it also includes a Norfolk Coffee coffee sleeve.