There’s a new local player in the Washington Nationals’ spring training clubhouse: Subculture Coffee.
In a deal that sprouted from a friendship between a regular customer and one of the coffee shop’s owners, Subculture last week started supplying 5-gallon kegs of cold brew Ethiopian Guji coffee for the Nationals clubhouse at the Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
“If we are going to be part of the community, we like to promote small business,” said Rob McDonald, a team vice president. “One thing about baseball players, they love coffee. And (Subculture has) great coffee.”
The arrangement took root in January 2017 when the Nationals’ support staff arrived in West Palm Beach for the first time.
But the ballpark, which had been under construction for more than a year, wasn’t quite ready.
“I didn’t know where to work,” said McDonald, who wanted to find a place away from his downtown hotel to make phone calls and work on his computer.
He consulted his Yelp! app and found Subculture, known as much for its coffee as its reputation as a comfortable hangout.
“As soon as I walked in, I liked the vibe,” said McDonald. “I saw a lot of like-minded people, from young professionals with laptops to hipsters on their computers. It reminds me of ( Washington) D.C.”
Every day for about three weeks, McDonald walked to Subculture and set up on a bench by the main window, sending emails and making phone calls to prepare for the arrivals of Nationals players.
“They have a great staff. They knew what kind of coffee I wanted: strong iced coffee. It seemed like they always had it ready when I walked in,” McDonald said.
McDonald’s clubhouse staff members often joined him there for meetings to discuss what needed to be done.
Once spring training started, McDonald and his staff returned for events like Tacos and Hip Hop Night.
It didn’t take long for co-owner Sean Scott to say hello to his returning customer. He told McDonald about the first coffee shop he started, in Washington’s Tysons Corner neighborhood. A friendship blossomed.
McDonald treated Scott and his staff to tickets to a game. Scott plans to donate Subculture T shirts to players and staff. “Maybe they’ll wear them during batting practice,” he said.
Scott said he offered to sell Subculture Coffee at the ballpark but couldn’t strike a deal.
So, he asked McDonald about getting Subculture’s cold brew coffee into the clubhouse for the team’s players and coaches.
” Stephen Strasburg loves his nitro cold brew,” McDonald said, referring to the Nationals pitching star. “All the players love it.”
Last Thursday, Scott delivered the first two kegs to the Nationals clubhouse. Each keg holds 5 gallons.
“It took them a day and a half to go through it and that was just pitchers and catchers,” Scott said with a laugh.
Now, the Houston Astros — who share the complex with the Nationals — are asking about getting Subculture Coffee into their clubhouse.
For Scott, the arrangement with the Nationals has “kind of come full circle because I started my first coffee shop in Washington in 2009,” he said.
“It’s been a nice surprise. I didn’t expect such a big organization to be so welcoming.”
By Joe Capozzi,.
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