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We here at Sprudge are longtime fans of the Philly coffee scene—really the entire food and beverage vibe in the city is outstanding and doesn't get enough national press. Philadelphia's coffee bars offer a broad range of experiences, from small, scrappy (dare we say Gritty?) local haunts to gorgeous, enormous urban cafes, and everything in-between. A new Philadelphia cafe is something to celebrate, but moreover, it's cause to start scheming an imminent return to the city for future deliciousness.

As told to Sprudge by Ross Nickerson.

The 2021 season of Build-Outs is presented by Fellow. The series is sponsored by La Marzocco, Pacific Barista Series, Marco Beverage Systems, Dona, and Sustainable Harvest.

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For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?

We're just two Philly guys that love coffee and want to share it with the world. One of us (Ross) got into sourdough baking years ago, doing bread and pizza at home, and so the very recently opened cafe houses a full in-house sourdough baking program. We were 2020 Good Food Award Winners with our Ethiopia Ardi coffee. Our major goals are to pay more for our green coffee, pay more to our baristas/bakers/production crew, and foster a fun, welcoming environment so that everyone looks forward to coming in to the cafe and roastery—both customers and staff.

Can you tell us a bit about the new space?

We had been planning a cafe since mid-2018. We finally found the right spot in March 2020 and signed our lease about a week before the country shut down. Needless to say, it was an excruciatingly stressful buildout filled with delays, financial concerns, and problems procuring supplies and equipment. We opened our doors just a few days ago (6/17/2021) in a tiny 635-square-foot space that houses a sourdough baking program (bread, croissants, cinnamon buns, and more) in addition to our coffees. We are offering our medium roast Good Vibes blend on batch brew as well as on espresso, and also offering a rotating single origin light roast coffee on drip.

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What’s your approach to coffee?

Our philosophy is that only offering light roast coffee is like only offering a steak cooked rare, or only offering IPAs… not only does it not make business sense, it also is passing judgement on something that is just a subjective preference. We are not about that at all—we want to serve bright, juicy, acid-bombs to people who want those, and rich, chocolate, low-acid brews to people who want those. Something for everyone. No pour-overs because we want consistency, quality, and we want to keep our pricing as accessible as possible while still offering great coffees for which we pay good money.

Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?

Two-group Synesso MVP Hydra espresso machine, FETCO CBS2132XTS batch brewer, Mahlkönig E65S espresso grinder, Puqpress, Mahlkönig Guatemala 710 bulk grinder.

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How is your project considering sustainability?

From the environmental standpoint, we compost all food waste, and we are just beginning attempting to make our own ricotta from any milk waste. Compostable cups and bags are high on our priority list but we just have not found any that tick all the boxes for us. From a financial standpoint, we are paying $15/hr + tips as our minimum starting wage and also working with importers who pay fair, livable wages to all the producers. The coffee industry is certainly full of issues and we are doing our best to do right by everyone involved.

What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?

We soft opened on 6/17/2021, and we are now in full operation.

Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?

Kole Made did the beautiful design and buildout. Keystone Sign & Company did our exterior sign. J Squared Design did our logo, cup design, bag design, and cold brew can design. Megan McCusker is responsible for most of the aesthetic including color palette. Stover Ceramics did all of our ceramic wares.

Thank you!

Good Vibes Only!

Vibrant Coffee Roasters & Bakery is located at 222 W Rittenhouse Sq, 1st Floor West, Philadelphia. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The 2021 season of Build-Outs is presented by Fellow. The series is sponsored by La Marzocco, Pacific Barista Series, Marco Beverage Systems, Dona, and Sustainable Harvest.