Locally owned Hausbrandt USA has acquired Philadelphia Coffee Works, a longtime coffee and espresso supplier, and plans to expand the presence of the premium Italian coffee.

The owners of Hausbrandt USA are Massimo Taurisano, an engineer and Wharton School graduate who is a veteran of the Philadelphia-area real estate and construction industries, and his wife, Carrie Lapp.

The sale comes at a time when the premium-coffee business is heating up. Hamburger giant McDonald's is touting its new premium coffee, and coffee powerhouse Starbucks is countering with new breakfast sandwiches, which it will introduce in Philadelphia this month.

Mintel International Group Ltd., of Chicago and London, a market research firm, said yesterday that the number of coffeehouses in the United States grew 70 percent between 2000 and 2005, to 21,400. It predicts that the number will increase at a faster rate over the next few years and that specialty coffees will continue to gain market share.

In the high-end coffee market here, Hausbrandt competes with a popular Italian rival, Illy, and local roaster La Colombe.

The Hausbrandt brand is sold at several coffee shops in Center City, and it is served in fine-dining establishments, such as the Pyramid Club atop Mellon Bank Center and nearby restaurant Le Castagne.

Taurisano and Lapp also are partners with others in Academia del Caffe, which has five locations, and the original Cafe Hausbrandt at 207 S. 15th St. in Center City.

They purchased Philadelphia Coffee Works from longtime owner Donato Marino for an undisclosed price. The Philadelphia Coffee Works name will continue under their ownership and be the exclusive distributor of Hausbrandt coffee to restaurants and over the Internet.

Lapp said she and her husband were optimistic about their chances in the red-hot coffee wars. "People are starting to appreciate their cup of coffee more," she said, "and people remember Hausbrandt coffee from their vacations in Italy."