In a place known more for proximity to powdery ski slopes than perfect espresso pulls, it’s easy to assume Salt Lake City couldn’t breed advanced coffee geek culture. Yet the high-desert city has become the kind of town where some cafes sell 12 ounces of roasted coffee beans for $50 and teach customers about the benefits of drinking coffee without cream or sugar.
The current coffee pioneers, who overwhelmingly prefer small-batch, direct-sourced light roasts, are working their trade everywhere from unassuming warehouses in South Salt Lake to one new spacious shrine to modern coffee drinking in downtown’s Central Ninth neighborhood. Some fire up drum roasters — forcing raw, green coffee beans to adopt hues of toffee, caramel and rich earth — while others operate lab-like coffee makers that seem capable of extracting a nuanced flavor from sand.
Coffee roasting isn’t new in this city of more than 191,000 residents; Salt Lake Roasting Company and Millcreek Coffee Roasters have been doing it for decades. But the emerging coffee craze is more closely intertwined with the farm-to-table movement, said Joseph Evans, the tattooed founder of Nobrow Coffee Werks (nobrowcoffee.com). Because of the city’s large Mormon population — the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints forbids members to drink coffee or tea — there’s always been a stereotype that there are not a lot of coffee drinkers, said Mr. Evans, who is no longer affiliated with Nobrow. “But we’re a growing metropolitan area with a strong culture of food,” he said.
Publik Coffee Roasters opened in May in a 12,000-plus-square-foot building.
Cayce Clifford for The New York Times
Squeeze into Nobrow’s compact, minimalist west-side coffee shop in the Central Ninth neighborhood or spread out on its concrete patio, where customers sip cups of brewed-to-order coffee and play chess in the afternoon sunshine. The cafe carries a rotation of coffees from well-known national roasters, including Intelligentsia Coffee and Ritual Coffee Roasters, as well as locally based Blue Copper Roasters (bluecopperslc.com). Blue Copper Roasters sells pour-overs and cold brew coffee at the Winter Market at Rio Grande Depot on Saturdays and from a cargo bicycle outside Diabolical Records on Friday nights.
One large Salt Lake City block from Nobrow, the long-anticipated Publik Coffee Roasters (publikcoffee.com) opened in May in a 12,000-plus-square-foot building that once housed a lithographer. The cafe attracts coffee aficionados, university students and weekday workers with laptops. A riff off the Dutch word for “community,” the chic Publik is made up of a dual-level cafe with mezzanine seating, a roastery and an event space. The cafe is decked out with reclaimed materials, including salvaged steam pipe from eastern Utah oil fields, wood from an old church organ and beams from a ranch barn once owned by Bill Gates. You can watch a 12-kilo Diedrich roaster churn out the mostly single-origin coffee served on site, while smelling only what’s in your cup thanks to a high-tech filtration system.
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Both Publik and Nobrow brew on Alpha Dominche Steampunk machines. The locally made programmable contraptions brew individual cups of coffee in transparent tubes, giving baristas precise control over everything from water temperature to filter settings.
On the University of Utah campus, Cafe Madsen by Charming Beard, a small-batch wholesale roaster (charmingbeard.com) is the place to try the nutty Nicaraguan El Recreo Estate brewed in a Chemex, the iconic glass vessel for making pour-over coffee. Then there’s that view of the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains. Otherwise, you can find Charming Beard coffees at local restaurants and cafes, or at a pour-over bar at the Winter Market every other Saturday through April 25, and at the Downtown Farmers’ Market during the summer. Last year, cream and sugar were not offered at the farmers’ market in the name of coffee education. “We feel that we proved our point,” said Josh Rosenthal, the chief executive of Charming Beard Coffee, noting that those accompaniments were offered this year.
The husband-and-wife owners John and Yiching Piquet are still the only people who work at caffe d’bolla (caffedbolla.com), even after 10 years in business. Mr. Piquet, who roasts small batches of coffee in-house, said the cafe’s siphon-brewed coffees are listed on a separate printed menu and, for a patron’s first time, are only served at the “siphon bar,” creating a slow-food experience inspired by his travels in Japan. “The totality of the thing is an experience itself, like a Japanese tea ceremony,” he said.
Housed in a 1918 meatpacking plant that later became a creamery, the Rose Establishment (theroseestb.com) serves only Four Barrel Coffee from San Francisco. Nosh on open-faced tartines or shortbread cookies topped with a vibrant rose hibiscus glaze — the perfect accompaniment to nitro-poured cold-brewed coffee. The Rose is the first shop to offer the chilled pick-me-up in Salt Lake, said its manager, Cody Kirkland. The brew, chilled in a keg and combined with nitrogen when dispensed, has the creamy-mouth sensation of Guinness beer. And just like beer, it’s served on tap.
Full Story at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/16/travel/a-hot-coffee-culture-in-salt-lake-city.html?_r=0
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