Coffee will take you on a magical, lifelong journey. Jeremias and Rachel Paul of Charleston, South Carolina's Broom Wagon Coffee know this first hand. The husband and wife duo came to appreciate coffee later in life than most—after having kids—when they viewed it more as a vehicle for caffeine than a nuanced product with anything resembling terroir. But after that a-ha moment, they dove in headfirst. Jeremias quit his job and began learning to roast, eventually going deep in the 2017 US Roasters Championship.
And now they are shop owners. After three years of building their roasting business, the Pauls felt it was time to take the next step and create a more community-forward space to showcase all their hard work. And the proof is in the pudding. The pudding, in this case, is a lovely cafe, which is way better than pudding anyway.
As told to Sprudge by Rachel Paul.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Broom Wagon Coffee is a micro-batch, specialty coffee roasting company in Charleston, SC. We began as a husband-wife team who fell in love with coffee after having kids. Initially, we drank it for the caffeine and added cream and sugar to cover the bitter taste we assumed all coffee had. While traveling, we stumbled upon a cafe that served us a cup of black coffee so sweet and full of flavor that it changed everything we knew about coffee. This began our quest to recreate the perfect cup of coffee.
Our initial investigation led us all along the West Coast where we visited as many cafes as we could. We quickly became aware that finding amazing coffee was rare and had to be sought out. With two little kids in tow, this often proved to be quite challenging yet completely worth it. We met so many friendly shop owners, baristas, and roasters who shared their knowledge, innovation, and excitement. Their inspiration spurred Jeremias to leave his 10-year career as a professor of photography and change his focus to roasting extraordinary coffee. Jeremias trained with several roasters and continues to obsessively educate himself. In 2015, he became a Q-grader, which ensures a continued commitment to offering the highest quality coffee. In January 2017, Jeremias qualified to compete at the US Roasters Championship in April 2017, where he placed as the 8th best roaster in the US. Additionally, our roastery is equipped as a diagnostic lab to allow us to constantly analyze, experiment, and optimize the potential of each coffee we offer.
Merging our love of cycling with our love for coffee, we connected with the spirit of the broom wagon, a common fixture in cycling races that is always ready to pick up struggling riders or encourage them to the finish. We want to support the curiosity that inspires everyone to keep exploring. The experience found in our coffee is just the start.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
After building up our coffee business over the past three years, we realized we wanted to be more engaged with the community around us. We have an amazing landlord for our roastery and were able to work with him to build out a space in a previously neglected, burnt-out building in the West Ashley neighborhood of Charleston, SC. We designed our space to be modern yet comfortable in order to create a welcoming environment to further the possibilities of coffee. We also wanted to provide high-quality food to accompany our coffee and offer both savory and sweet toasts and gluten-free waffles, which are all made in house from whole ingredients.
What’s your approach to coffee?
We believe coffee is a window that provides a view into the terroir of its origin and into the lives of the people who have cared for it along its way to you. Our roasting style is to preserve the transparency of that window so that you may peer clearly into the distinct flavor profiles that are found naturally in the world of single-origin specialty coffee. We work carefully with select importers to source the highest-quality, sustainable coffees while providing the farmers with a fair wage. As we grow, we plan to develop more direct relationships with these hard-working farmers. We are also committed to promoting a balanced, healthy lifestyle through our coffee. More and more studies continue to be released touting coffee’s many health benefits. We roast our coffees to bring out the coffee’s natural sweetness, eliminating or reducing the need to add sugar or flavorings. We continue to find coffees that inspire us and we want to share them with you.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We have the first Synesso MVP Hydra espresso machine in Charleston. We also have a Mahlkönig EK43 grinder for batch and pour-over coffee, two Mahlkönig Peak grinders for espresso, and a FETCO batch brewer.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We opened in May 2018
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
We pulled from Jeremias’s fine art background and designed the space ourselves. We built the benches, bar, and shelves and painted the 4’x16’ painting hanging above the benches. The painting is inspired by a historic cycling photograph and spent over four months on our kitchen table as we painted it. We also worked with Hillary King at pH Reclaimed, who built the bar top, table tops, and window bar. She used reclaimed wood she had collected over the years from old buildings in Charleston. We love the way her incredible work brings a sense of history and connection to our space.
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