Broo’s coffee is good to the last drop

West Windsor couple go into the coffee business, trading on the Grovers Mills’ ‘War of the Worlds’ reputation.

By: Emily Craighead
   WEST WINDSOR — Meet Broo Blork, Martian coffee purveyor for the Interplanetary Coffee Council.
   On Halloween in 1938, Broo, a green one-eyed alien landed in Grovers Mill searching for coffee. After assuring the panicked locals he meant no harm, Broo and a local farmer founded the Grover’s Mill Coffee Company.
   So goes the tale told by Franc and Mickey Gambatese, the real-life founders of the new company.
   "We want to make Grover’s Mill Coffee a destination," said Mr. Gambatese, who admits to a lifelong fascination with the Orson Wells’ "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast of 1938 that prominently featured Grovers Mill.
   This is his effort to preserve a snapshot of West Windsor history as he builds a new business with his wife, Mr. Gambatese said.
   The company launched its Web site and made its entry onto the local marketplace at the New Jersey Wine and Food Festival at Mercer County Community College earlier this month.
   So far, Broo and his coffee have been a hit.
   "People were buying the T-shirts not even knowing what it’s about," Ms. Gambatese said. And a South African man said their coffee was the best he’s had in the five years he’s lived in the United States, she added.
   Grover’s Mill Coffee offers nearly 20 varieties of coffee, as well as an assortment of teas. Gift baskets and other items will also be available soon.
   "It’s amazing what people ask for," Mr. Gambatese said, adding that his best-selling coffee so far has also been one of the most expensive — Jamaica Blue Mountain. The best-selling teas have been English Breakfast Tea and White Tea.
   The couple enlisted friends and family for taste tests to find the best coffee they could. As they selected from scores of varieties of coffee, they considered whether there was an aftertaste, the color and aroma of the beans and how the coffee tastes iced.
   They ended up with coffee from Kenya, Hawaii and Guatemala, among other places.
   "We say we get our coffee from all over the galaxy, which is pretty much accurate," Ms. Gambatese said.
   Mr. and Ms. Gambatese’s own coffee-drinking habits reflect their company’s offerings. He usually drinks one cup of coffee in the morning, while she enjoys a cup of peppermint tea.
   They complement each other in other ways, too, each contributing creative flair and business sense to the enterprise.
   A West Windsor councilman and manager of a Lowe’s home improvement store, Mr. Gambatese composed Broo’s story and designed the business plan. Ms. Gambatese, a choreographer with a degree in accounting, designed the Web site and handles Internet sales.
   "We’re at a point in our lives when we want to do something together," Mr. Gambatese said. "We work well together."
   They’ve also gotten plenty of help in artistic direction and assistance at the Wine and Food Festival from their three children and Ms. Gambatese’s father.
   "It’s definitely been a family adventure," Mr. Gambatese said.
   Eventually, they said they hope to open a coffee shop in Grovers Mill or a nearby section of West Windsor.
   "I would take a 150-year-old barn or farmhouse and turn it into an open space with a coffee bar," said Mr. Gambatese, describing the ideal setting for his coffee house. "I want it to be a museum to what happened at Grovers Mill."
   It may take a couple years to make that plan a reality.
   "For now we’re intergalactic, but we’re looking for a place to land," Ms. Gambatese said.
   For now, Grover’s Mill Coffee can be found at