LBI’s How You Brewin’ Coffee Company Is Committed to Its Community

In 2004, Lori and Dan Malay set out to create a welcoming space for beachgoers to gather. The loyal following they've built has helped keep them afloat during the pandemic.

Photo by Calla Aniski

For high school sweethearts Lori and Dan Malay, it’s not about what you brewin’, it’s about how you brewin’.

Lori and Dan Malay. Photo by Calla Aniski

While spending summers on Long Beach Island, the local couple considered the idea of starting a seasonal business to supplement their income. After having “a really bad coffee experience,” Lori and Dan concluded they needed to get into coffee. They knew they wanted to create a welcoming place for people to gather, a place where people could socialize while enjoying their drink or food. The couple’s passion for good coffee fueled their desire to create a “third place,” a term that refers to the places where people spend their time between home (first place) and work (second place).

In May 2004, the Malays opened the doors of their first small coffee shop in Barnegat Light’s historic Viking Village, bringing a much-needed new blend to the island. Two years later, they purchased the How You Brewin’ location in Ship Bottom, taking over the name, and eventually moving it to Surf City. Now, over 15 years later, the shops have become ingrained in the local community. With two locations and online ordering, How You Brewin’ is the place for LBI-goers to enjoy coffee.

“We often say that we don’t serve coffee to people, we serve people coffee,” says Dan. ”We want people to get comfortable, socialize and be engaged in community.”

Community building is such a vital part of How You Brewin’ that last year, they expanded the Surf City location from 1,500 square feet to 3,000 to accommodate more patrons, effectively growing the shop’s community base.

How You Brewin’s Surf City location. Photo by Calla Aniski

As for the quality of the product they serve, Lori and Dan source beans from a small batch roaster in Millville. “We are often asked, ‘Why don’t you roast yourself?’” says Dan. “My simple answer is, ‘Our roaster is just too good at it’”. How You Brewin’ offers customers endless coffee options, including espresso, cortados, cappuccinos, lattes, cold brew, coffee frappes and more. They also have an extensive food menu complete with soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts, such as their coffeehouse favorite, Tiramisu. For Lori, her favorite order is a double shot of espresso with a splash of oat milk. Dan prefers to drink cold brew year-round.

The Covid-19 pandemic has threatened the livelihood of the restaurant and food industries. But thanks to the community Lori and Dan have built over time, How You Brewin’ has been able to stay afloat. Despite having to close their indoor seating in March, the shop is as busy as ever, thanks in part to the beachgoers that have returned for Shore vacations. Through online ordering, customers can still grab their favorite cup of coffee from How You Brewin’ or pick up a batch of coffee beans through their online bean store.

“I am absolutely longing for the day when the shop is full of people sipping and socializing,” says Dan. With outdoor dining available, guests can sit on the patio, sip their coffee, socialize or listen to musicians. Every week Lori and Dan invite local artists to play live music for guests to enjoy during a “Cappy Hour.” Find their weekly lineup on their website, Instagram or Facebook.

How You Brewin’ is located at 8 North Long Beach Boulevard, Surf City, 609-494-2003; and 14 West 19th Street, Barnegat Light, 609-494-9391.

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