Since Judge Samuel Alito was nominated to the Supreme Court, political pundits, legal scholars and journalists have raked through his rulings...

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NEWARK, N.J. — Since Judge Samuel Alito was nominated to the Supreme Court, political pundits, legal scholars and journalists have raked through his rulings for clues about his ideological views.

But at the T.M. Ward Coffee Co. in Newark, the only question about Alito is: ground or whole bean?

Ward’s sells a popular coffee called Alito Bold Justice, made and named for the federal judge, who has been a regular customer at the store near the federal courthouse since 1987.

The brew was concocted for Alito five years ago as a birthday present. But sales of the coffee have taken off since President Bush tapped the New Jersey native in November to fill a seat on the nation’s highest court.

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“We’ve been selling a lot more ever since he got nominated,” said Vera Barbosa, 50, a sales clerk who helped make the blend.

Calls and e-mails have come in from all over the country, including Texas (a red state) and California (a blue state). Alito bought 44 pounds of the blend — at $7.95 per pound — before Christmas, Barbosa said.

While he occupied the federal bench, Alito drank his way through nearly the entire catalog of brews at the 134-year-old coffee company, searching for the perfect cup of Joe. They were either too strong, too weak, too sweet or too bitter. Five years ago, a clerk picked a mix of dark Papua New Guinea, Celebes Kalossi, Java, Italian roast and espresso beans for a surprise birthday gift.

The mix was just right.

The clerk named it Bold Justice Blend, but most people refer to it as the Alito blend.

What does the coffee say about the man?

Lawrence Herrmann, a former U.S. attorney in Connecticut and self-described liberal Democrat, said the Alito blend is telling.

“It’s a pretty strong roast, but he’s a pretty strong guy. He has strong principles,” said Herrmann, 70, who stopped by for a cup of Alito last week. “I think having a strong blend of coffee named for him is better than an herbal tea with hibiscus.”

Alito himself was unavailable for comment — sequestered somewhere, perhaps, with his 44 pounds of coffee.