Angel Moroni gone, but new coffeehouse T-shirt still resolutely 'irreverent'

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TAYLORSVILLE - Coffee makers here have turned potential trademark infringement into grounds for inspiration.

In March, the LDS Church asked Just Add Coffee to stop selling a popular T-shirt that featured coffee being funneled into Angel Moroni's iconic trumpet. (The angel tops most LDS temples and figures prominently in the religion's scriptures.)

The Taylorsville store owners complied, but the spat spurred a new design, with the angel removed, that might prove even more marketable.

It shows a giant hand from the sky pouring the java - which the LDS Church urges its members to abstain from drinking - into a disembodied trumpet.

The caption: "The Lord giveth, and a church taketh away."

Store owners Ed Beazer and Van Lidell insist it's just harmless repartee, albeit a tad one-sided.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn't talking about the new design and whether it violates the trademark.

"We haven't even seen it yet," church spokesman Scott Trotter says. "We're not going to comment."

Beazer says "irreverent" is part of the management style at Just Add Coffee, which opened at 5578 S. Redwood Road in November 2002. The store debuted the first Moroni design last year on a greeting card and used it later in a newspaper ad, which drew the LDS Church's attention.

"We didn't do it to be mean. We didn't do it because we're anti-Mormon," Beazer says. "We did it because we thought it was funny."

Beazer and Lidell say they already have sold 150 shirts since the new model debuted in mid-April. They have received orders from England, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Arizona and California.

The publicity from their first T-shirt hasn't hurt sales either. News of the trademark dispute appeared in Utah newspapers,The New York Times and on a number of Web sites.

A customer in England, Beazer adds, ordered the new shirt after learning about the old one in an ex-Mormon chat room.

Annette Hatton, a West Valley City resident, bought a green T-shirt with the new logo when she stopped into the coffeehouse recently.

"I just thought it was cute," she says. "You have to laugh at your culture."

Beazer and Lidell, both former Starbucks managers, rely on their sense of humor to set them apart from the competition. A Starbucks opened up next door about a year ago.

"They're a little more on the politically correct side," Beazer says. "We try to be a little more edgy, a little more funny." The T-shirts add a "local flare."

The two are creating new shirts that would play off other Utah cultural themes. In coming months, customers can expect to see shirts that feature green Jell-O perked up with coffee beans, a beehive, a play on Utah's liquor laws, polygamists and maybe even one with Beazer and Lidell dressed as LDS missionaries caught in the act of brewing coffee.

The slogan?

"We're on a mission."