Two Wrasslin’ Cats Coffee House: Challenging the Coffee Industry

Back in the 14th century, the un-roasted boiled beans from the rich lands of East Africa became famous for their evolution into coffee. In a blink of an eye, it became an integral part of everyone’s routine. Today, the percentage of people addicted to coffee is witnessing an immense appraisal.

Several debates and tales have been witnessed in history about the origin of coffee and its popularity among communities. Research shows that it all started in the 14th century with an Arab merchant bringing the plant to his homeland for commercial purposes.

In the late 16th century, coffee gained its international marketing recognition when investors accepted the wide appreciation of a drink named ‘Wine of Bean.’ Soon after this, the Englishmen started using the finest quality products for coffee and it became a signature item in their breakfast.

By the end of 17th century, there were 7000 coffee houses in England and 24000 in Europe. Gradually, many other sectors got engaged with the coffee trade, and the coffee norm was understood in more literal terms in any society across the globe.

Today coffee is the most sought commodity after crude oil. Many vendors have played with their coffee outlets to attract as many customers as possible. With the same intention, Mark A. Thiede founded Two Wrasslin’ Cats Coffee House, LLC (TWC). Being an innovation in itself, TWC is a cat-themed café located in East Haddam, Connecticut. It is named after Thiede’s two feline friends and co-founders, Bruno and Larry, named after two pro-wrestlers Bruno Sammartino and his protégé Larry Zbyszko. The café is best known for exceptional customer service and hosting of local events and meetings.

Thiede has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. After getting retired from Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Thiede opened the café in May 2013. The coffee shop currently serves as a community hub for activism and offers breakfast, lunch, sandwiches, coffee, chais, espresso drinks, and pastries.

In an interview, Thiede said, “My main goal was to set up a place that would be open to the community to do their own things.” In preparation for opening TWC after leaving Pfizer, Thiede traveled to Portland, Oregon, to attend what he calls “coffee school.” It was a five-day seminar hosted by a coffee-consulting firm offering aspiring coffee shop owner’s advice and education.

Thiede has been sourcing his coffee beans from Saccuzzo Coffee in Newington. The result is a java menu that, while fairly classic and traditional, is exactly what one wants in a coffee shop. Not to mention, the café is also famous for arranging well-known community events. From 2017 to 2019, TWC hosted several Women’s March events. The ‘Together We Rise CT movement’ has also hosted its weekly vigils at TWC. The café is also recognized for hosting weekly vigils supporting social justice, including LGBT issues, racial equality, and women’s reproductive rights.

Looking at the unique design, TWC is housed in a circa 1784 cobalt blue and lime green house at 374 Town Street in East Haddam. The building is a mix of antique and modern architecture.  The café offers its indoor and outdoor space for community meetings and small parties.

In 2016, TWC was honored with the Harry Eden Burr Award for Prevention Awareness and for being a Middlesex County business community member. Anyone who frequently visits TWC knows that this place is not about the smoothies, lattes, sandwiches, or cappuccino. It’s about a man with a social conscience who eschew the corporate world’s financial comfort and follow his own path.

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