Mean Mug seeks distinction near coffee shop and bakery

Mean Mug seeks distinction near coffee shop and bakery

December 31st, 2011 by Carey O'Neil in Business Around the Region

Denise Waite, a barista at Mean Mug Coffee on Main Street, samples the espresso she brewed at a training session.

Photo by Jenna Walker /Times Free Press.

• Name: Mean Mug Coffee House

• Location: 114 W. Main St.

• Contacts:, 423-825-4206

• Products: Special roast coffee, breakfast foods and panini sandwiches available for quick ordering or sit-down enjoyment. Owner Matt Lewis worked with coffee roasters Velo to develop a blend of South American and African beans unique to Mean Mug.

• Age: Opened in mid-December

• Startup investment: $50,000 for the building, remodeling and coffee shop equipment

• Target market: Neighborhood residents and commuters hopping off Interstate 24. Mean Mug sits close to the Camp House which serves some food but focuses on coffee, and Niedlov's Breadworks, which serves coffee, but focuses on its bakery. Lewis hopes customers can find a happy medium between the two at Mean Mug. "We're trying to bridge the gap between the fast-food coffee shop and the local coffee shop," he said.

• Biggest hurdle: Getting customers to fall into a morning routine that includes Mean Mug. "We're not reinventing the wheel, as far as coffee hoppers go, but we're doing something unique to Chattanooga," he said. "We're creating an environment versus just opening another coffee shop."

• Lesson learned: Expect equipment to break down. This is Lewis' fourth food-related venture in town. Earlier efforts were The Honest Pint, Hair of the Dog and The Terminal. Every time he's opened a business, he's run into unforeseen problems. "Expect at least 50 percent of your equipment to not work like it's supposed to the first week," he said. "Little things always go wrong."