Cape Cod. Martha's Vineyard. Nantucket. Provincetown. These iconic American summer destinations carry with them a host of happy associations, from fried clams to beach bonfires to preppy seaside escapades and boardwalk shenanigans. But what of coffee? Well—the folks at Snowy Owl have been working hard to bring great coffee to this underserved area, with a focus on year-round service building community with the locals. Now they're opening up a new space in Sandwich, MA—the oldest town on Cape Cod.
As told to Sprudge by Shayna Ferullo.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
We started in 2015 as a small-batch roaster with a goal to introduce Cape Cod to specialty coffee and provide a space for the local community in Brewster. Many Cape businesses are closed in the off season (Labor or Columbus Day to Memorial Day), and we wanted to be a year-round spot and cater to locals. We opened our Brewster location, where we have a five-kilo Diedrich, and really focused on making specialty coffee informative but not pretentious. Our mission is to connect people to the coffee supply chain and introduce unique and ethical coffees in a welcoming environment.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
We found the space in late 2019 because we were looking for places to put a bigger roaster. Our five-kilo roaster was limiting in the summer months, which is our high season. Being in a tourist, seasonal location, we operate at full and fast capacity from June-August, and so do our wholesale partners. We were having to turn away partnerships because of production constraints. We considered putting a bigger roaster in a commercial bay but wanted to stay true our mission of connecting people to the coffee process. We felt that, in order to do this, people needed to see our coffee roasting. After looking at a place closer to Brewster, we stumbled upon this location (about 50 minutes closer to Boston, but still on Cape Cod), which had operated as an antique shop for decades. It is a warehouse-like space right on a main, busy road near downtown. We loved the open, industrial feel, the two garage doors, and the proximity to schools and other commercial areas.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Our goal has never been to win awards with high-end, expensive Geshas but to convert a culture of Dunkin Donuts drinkers into specialty coffee supporters. We do this by providing just enough information to spur dialogues and conversations with our well-trained and service-oriented baristas. On the sourcing side, we began purchasing spot coffee from larger importers and have slowly and intentionally switched to buying almost all of our coffee via direct partnerships or specialty importers, such as Red Fox and Ally Coffee. We have begun to shift our focus on buying single origin grade and blend components from our current partners—Mighty Peace from the Congo and JNP from Burundi—in order to offer an outlet to growers of high grade coffee for their lower scoring coffee. Manuel, one of the owners, is from Peru, and we are bringing in our first container of directly sourced Peruvian coffee with the help of Mercon Coffee. We aim for long-term, predictable, and transparent sourcing relationships.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We worked with Loring Roasters and purchased the S35. We work with Bev-Tech out of Maine, who provides us with our espresso machines by Victoria Arduino. We currently have a Black Eagle and a White Eagle in our other two cafes, and the Sandwich location will have two Eagle One espresso machines. We will use Nuova Simonelli grinders for espresso and FETCO brewers and Ditting grinder for brewed coffee.
How is your project considering sustainability?
Firstly, we are working towards purchasing this property so that we can install our own solar panels on the roof. Electrical is our big focus since this is what contributes most to our environmental woes currently, especially global warming. We had Cape Light Compact complete a comprehensive assessment before we built out that we followed step by step to ensure our building operates at optimal efficiency. On other fronts, our husks are donated to a local chef, we source all our cups and to-go-ware from World Centric, and we have a growing partnership with Black Earth Compost for disposing of all our food scraps and waste. We will be serving Peruvian style empanadas and purchasing ground meat locally from Walden Farms and chicken from Hillside Farm on Cape Cod.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
We have worked with a local contractor but have chosen a few specialty craftsmen. Our countertops are black concrete from Elements Concrete Co, flooring was done by Arcor Apoxy Technologies, We have an amazing mural, depicting the supply chain, painted by Nick Zaremba.