It’s no secret that the Build-Outs of Coffee series serves as a discovery engine—for our readers, of course, but for us as well, the humans who publish Sprudge and spend time with each and every one of these stories in advance of print. We are as excitable as anyone else when it comes to a great new cafe, and over the years the Build-Outs program has paid off ten fold when it comes to putting essential new spots on the national radar. We think this is one of those cafes, right in the middle of one of the country’s most interesting food and beverage neighborhoods. You will be hearing more about this project in the months to come. This is Persimmon Coffee in Philadelphia, PA.
As told to Sprudge by Kai Talim.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
When the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic and the world began a deep reckoning with racial injustice, there was (and still is) so much fear, anxiety, anger, and grief. But, even amidst such pain, we were witnessing special moments like people cooking for friends, participating in peaceful protests, and getting groceries for the most vulnerable in our communities. We were being moved by the power of empathy—our company was born out of that. Persimmon Coffee is an independent coffee roastery and lifestyle brand infused with Japanese and Korean minimalist design, founded out of a mutual devotion to genuine community, empathy, and storytelling.
Our mission is to create a space that doesn’t seek to conform or assimilate, that invites people to come as they are.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Persimmon’s aesthetic and visual choices are guided by our Creative Director, Chaereen Pak, who’s always been inspired by coffee shops and stands in Tokyo and Seoul that utilize lots of natural light to create beautiful atmospheres in tight spaces. She’s done a marvelous job in designing our first brick-and-mortar; located in the burgeoning Fishtown neighborhood of Philly, we’re joining an amazing lineup of neighbors including Weckerly’s Ice Cream, Kismet Bagels, Pizza Shackamaxon, and Johnny Brenda’s.
What’s your approach to coffee?
The exact details of what we look for in a coffee changes for each monthly release, based on our Director of Coffee Sawyer Beckley’s analysis of the offerings from importers. But the common factor is for each coffee to be approachable for everyone—our goal at Persimmon is to find well balanced coffees that can be enjoyed by any palate. Complex enough to intrigue those newer drinkers, while also satisfying the more experienced; balanced and rich so that no one is scared off by the idea of coffee tasting acidic or fruity. We aim for a middle road that pulls in the best of both worlds to create extremely drinkable, “session” coffees.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
How is your project considering sustainability?
At Persimmon, we roast one new coffee a month. Often a single origin, we focus on creating limited quantities of coffee so that we limit waste as much as possible, aiming to sell out every single bag of a roast. In turn, this allows us to choose the highest quality green coffee available within our budget, often translating to working with green that has been grown in more environmentally friendly farming practices, as well as better pay for farmers. Through Sawyer’s friendship with them, we’ve had the opportunity to work directly with groups like Café Tío Conejo, an amazing family of coffee producers in the mountains of Manizales, Colombia.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
June 30, 2022
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve worked with some of the best craftspeople in Philly for our first shop. The tremendous team from Leeward Furniture built out our stunning bar from solid oak, while our shop ceramics were a collaboration with the talented Domenic Frunzi, also based in the Fishtown neighborhood. Our very own Chaereen Pak led all design efforts.