Atlanta's coffee scene is forever a major point of interest for Sprudge readers, and so we're excited to share with you another great coffee bar story out of Georgia: Bellwood Coffee, a coffee bar and plant shop collaboration on Glenwood Avenue in East Atlanta.
As told to Sprudge by Joel Norman.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Bellwood Coffee was started by industry people. Two brothers who had been baristas for three-plus years (and still are), a friend with roasting/sourcing experience, and a friend with a design background. We wanted to build a company that positively impacts people in both directions—both toward the farm-level, the names and faces of the coffee producers/exporters/importers, and toward our employees, and by extension, our customers. We specifically buy the coffees that we know the most about, with the belief that transparency in coffee-buying breeds honest relationships. On the other hand, we share a portion of our profits with our employees, with the belief that every member of our team is vital to a flourishing community.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
The new space is in collaboration with local plant shop, The Victorian Atlanta. We had become good friends with Libby and Cary (the owners) while they were customers at our first location. Nobody recalls who threw out the idea, but someone said, “we should do a shop together,” and the idea stuck. At the moment the timing wasn't right, but it kept coming back up until we all decided a second location on the Eastside made a ton of sense. The new space has eight seats at the coffee bar, and a few others scattered throughout the shop, but the rest of the space is dedicated to rare plants.
What’s your approach to coffee?
We like to challenge the “rules” of the coffee world, so we're always taking ideas to the lab (aka trying new methods out (with blind tasting involved, obviously) when the shop is closed). We start with the question “how is someone going to experience this?” and we try to boost the positives (e.g. drinks tasting really good) and remove the negatives (…drinks taking too long, being served inconsistently, etc.). This has led to questions like “how long can espresso sit before it shouldn't be served in an iced drink (give this a try at your own shop, you might be surprised)?” or “does putting ‘macchiato' on our menu hinder more people from getting what they want? or do we slap it on there because our coffee ancestors would roll in their graves without it?”
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We've got a Mahlkönig E80 Supreme for our house espresso, along with an Anfim Scody II for seasonal coffees. Both these grinders are rippers, but we can't get over the 2.5 second grind time on the E80.
How is your project considering sustainability?
All of our used coffee grounds are to be separated from any other trash or compost, and are available to local gardens and farms. At our first location, we've recycled thousands of pounds of used coffee grounds, and plan to do the same here!
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We soft-opened at the beginning of this month, and are hoping to grand-open (with our pastry menu added) by August 1.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
The superstar behind the look of the space is Alison Michaels-Fandel. This woman can do no wrong when it comes to design. I don't know anyone else who can take elementary school linoleum floor tile and turn it into a beautiful statement piece, while blending it with more upscale elements like white-oak, stainless steel, and soapstone. She's a master.
Photos by Daniel Stabler, used with permission