Brews News

The Shay Way

The Shay Cafe, Hudson
Chad W. Lutz
Let’s face it. America loves its coffee. So much so that America is now the number one importer of organic coffee in the world. On average, Americans consume 9.8lbs. of coffee per capita. In other words, there’s enough coffee being consumed in the United States each year to allow for every single person to drink almost ten pounds of coffee to the dome. The bean is mean.

What’s also mean, but not as delicious, is the economy. The bill has us all bucked and frivolities come at a premium. One thing America hasn’t cut from their budget, though, is coffee. In fact, the specialty drink coffee shop niche is one of the fastest growing industries in the country. And with many big chains having to close their doors to cut costs (at least it’s not on taste this time) it’s made way for a small trickle of small business to flood the market.

According to the National Coffee Association nearly half of the adult population drinks coffee. From espressos to mochas, frappuccinos and tea, it seems everyone, businessman and bohemian alike, have the jitters for (or from) java. With demand at an all-time high and the country steaming for a hot cup of brew local business owners like Andy Schueneman have stepped up to answer the call. And he boasts café “the Shay way.”

Since its grand opening in February, the Shay Café has become a healthy alternative for people in the Stow/Hudson/Cuyahoga Falls community. In a time where the muffin and scone both own our taste buds attention and America’s waistline is bulging ever more, it’s hard to find nutritious food at a fair price, if at all. I recently came across an article on about who else but the ever so health friendly McDonald’s. In it they talked about the difference in American Nuggets as opposed to the McNuggets made in the UK. In just four American McNuggets there are 190 calories 12 grams of fat (2 saturated) and enough chemicals to embalm a walrus. Goo goo ga choo. Not too mention the “anti foaming agent” dimethylpolysiloxane. They use that in Silly Putty. Mmmm Mmmm.

“Ya know it’s one of those things where you just don’t know what’s in your coffee,” Schueneman said, referring to the Swiss decaffeination process his café features.
‘What they do is, instead of using chemicals like ethanol acetate (which I used to use to remove permanent marker from lab dishes) they use water to basically blast the caffeine from the bean.”

The Swiss process isn’t the only thing the café offers its health conscious patrons.

“We can make a frappe that has only 235 calories. A Starbucks frappe has 975.”
For all of you who don’t understand the whizmo gizmo in’s and out’s of healthy speak, that’s roughly the same amount of calories found in a Big Mac or a Chipotle burrito. In a drink…
“Coffee’s one of those things that pretty much everyone wants, so in a way you feel like you’re really helping people.”

“Is that why you’re in the business?” I asked while doing some impromptu yoga on his living room floor.

He continued to shoot me awkward looks but grinned a mile wide, “It’s actually the money part.” Of course he was just kidding but he was alluding to the fact that a lot of his competitors don’t really seem to have the customer in mind. Or maybe have them too much in mind. Either case he noted that service has become less personalized and more artificial.

“At the Shay Café your experience is personalized. We won’t just hand you coffee and send you on your way. We try to get to know our customers.”

The Shay Café is situated inside the Summa Wellness Center located on Commerce Drive just off of Darrow Rd. (Rt.91) in Hudson. The café, which has more of a restaurant feel, offers a wide variety of drinks, sandwiches, soups, and snacks that cater to pretty much every taste. Their signature sandwich is the “Breakfast of Champions.” It’s basically an egg sandwich with cheese and your choice of veggies, but features a Boca burger instead of a patty of meat. Other Shay Café oddities include the Bullshot (a Red Bull with a shot of flavoring and Perrier), crab cakes, and Akron’s own folk musician Zach as their house band. The café also offers full wireless capabilities for the cost of a breath of air. They even have a rocking papasan.

But it isn’t just the Shay Café that’s tapped into America’s coffee craze. Other Akron area stores like the Nervous Dog and Angel Falls located on West Market St. or Mocha Joe’s in Stow have all clawed their way through the Starbuck’s stranglehold to make a name for themselves in the community.

“Unfortunately there’s a battle going on between big and small business right now,” Andy said when talking about the majority of the market being swallowed up by the Big 3 (Starbucks, Caribou, Tim Horton’s). Currently there are only 3,000 privately owned coffee shops in the United States according to Robert J. Hughes of the Wall Street Journal. Starbucks alone has over 8,000 stores in both the United States and worldwide.

If anything, Schueneman’s café is just another testament to the power of the “little guy,” to dream a dream and ride it all the way down stream. I think it’s pretty safe to say that most of American culture has cut corners in order to turn profits (I think all I need to say is “The Tooth Fairy” (2009) featuring none other than Dwayne Johnson in a tutu. Or maybe any of the movies/TV we’ve been watching for thirty years that have been redone, as if they were new?).

The café trend is on the rise and it’s giving rise to many quaint shops that offer a different appeal than the plastic trappings and forced smiles from underpaid pissed off teenagers the “big guy” might offer. And with your waistline in mind, as well.

So, if you’re looking for a health conscious store with great food and an even better attitude, then you definitely need to come out to Hudson and try the Shay Café. But don’t just take my opinion. Trust the source.

And all he has to say to you is, “For your health!” with a smile.

The Shay Café's hours of operation:
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday - Friday
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday