Three Ships began as an idea in a garage in a neighborhood in a town by the beach. Since 2013, Three Ships has influenced the coffee culture of Virginia Beach like no other. The hard work, dedication, and community that built Three Ships continues to motivate us all these ten years later, and we're beyond grateful to have shared countless cups of coffee with anyone and everyone.
A wine sommelier and a software developer walked into a coffee roastery, then decided to start their own. Craft coffee from New York to California planted a seed of change in the lives of Amy and Brad Ewing as they began sparking their passion for specialty coffee. This journey took the pair in inspiration towards supplying exceptional coffee to Virginia Beach and the associated community establishment.
In May of 2013, Amy took her sommelier palette and went to work, roasting coffee in the garage of the Ewing household in Shadowlawn, which led to the trading in of her wine sales job for an increased focus on roasting coffee and establishing deeper roots within the community. Three Ships then began selling jars of “First Landing” cold brew and bags of freshly roasted coffee beans at the Old Beach Farmers Market, offering pour-overs as a tasty showcase of skill. Through the attendance of events within the community, Three Ships slowly became a name of familiarity within Virginia Beach.
In 2015, Brad decided to take a leap of faith and dive into increasing the outreach of Three Ships by leaving his stable career to focus full-time on the successful introduction of what Three Ships would grow to become. Renovation after renovation began, from a mobile coffee bar in an old Coachman, to the introduction of a tasting room with a bar built of reclaimed wood, composed of pieces previously destined for a landfill. With a focus on sourcing great coffee from great places, Amy and Brad fully began to understand and embody the seasonality, ethicality, and sustainability involved in coffee production.
Once Three Ships ensured the successful offering of coffee, they then searched for ways in which to cater to an even greater audience and grow their community, with the answer being found in food. Biscuits and small pastry items, such as homemade poptarts, were successfully crafted and served at Three Ships, and remain customer favorites to this day. The community of Three Ships grew very quickly, insighting the construction of a larger cafe in the Vibe District. During construction, the original mobile coffee trailer was moved in front of the space to continue to supply coffee to the neighborhood until the storefront opened in April 2016.
Great business coincided with the opening of the location at Old Beach, becoming a hub for locals and tourists alike, growing the Three Ships community at a rate that Amy and Brad never could have imagined, and Three Ships kept on growing. The opening of the Hilltop Cafe and Roastery location in October 2021, and the opening of a third location furthered this growth spurt, with the introduction of Three Ships' into downtown Norfolk in Assembly during April of 2022.
The past created a path that brought Three Ships to where it is today, scattered with passion, creativity, and hard work. Brought together by a love for the community, Amy and Brad Ewing have grown Three Ships into a company focused on quality and attention to detail, all without forgetting their original influences and original ideals. A focus on the complex beauty of an unassuming coffee has allowed for a greater expression of the vibrant nuances in a bag of coffee from Three Ships, where intense care is taken into consideration for every cup of coffee.
Before Three Ships, the word “community” referred to somewhere that people lived, not necessarily somewhere to feel at home, but with the introduction of a place and a product that locals could take pride in, “community” grew into something of feeling and merit.
From roasting coffee in their garage in Shadowlawn, to showing up at farmer’s markets when no one else did, through countless gallons of cold brew and lines around the block, Three Ships founders, Amy and Brad Ewing, have worked tirelessly to create community for their family and yours! The creation of a name centered on the number three, on balance and simplicity, set the stage for a brand that speaks for itself, focusing on quality and the driving factors stoking creativity.
Inspired to create a community that people were proud to call home, in search of creating a globally-impactful brand, Amy and Brad set out to share something that represented their town well, and that would solve the daily question of “What is there to do in Virginia Beach?”.