We see a lot of shops opening in small towns around the world during the Build-Outs of Summer, but this newest entry may just be the smallest. With a population just over 5,000, Kutztown, Pennsylvania is a nano-town that is home of nano-roaster Four Monkeys Coffee. Having started as a passion projects for owners Christopher Eugster and Colleen Underwood, Four Monkeys soon developed into a roasting company.
And now they can add a cafe to their resume. Focusing primarily on pour-over, Four Monkeys is using their new space to have complete control over the product served to the customer, from green coffee to brew. So if you ever find yourself in Kutztown, look for the former vape and cigar shop with the “latte” colored walls. There, you'll find Four Monkeys Coffee.
As told to Sprudge by Christopher Eugster and Colleen Underwood.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Four Monkeys journey started about seven years ago in Baltimore. I lived in a neighborhood where I just couldn’t find a cup of coffee that excited me. I started roasting on the rooftop, and it quickly became an obsession. Soon after, I moved to Kutztown to be with my future wife. We built our own five-pound roaster in the garage labeled our coffee as Four Monkeys and started roasting for friends, family, and occasional sales. Our combined love of coffee and now years of experience led us to formally start the business in 2017. We are fortunate to live in a community that supports small business and have grown our business through retailing at farmer’s markets and festivals and wholesaling to farm stands, general stores, cafes, and specialty shops.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
We started out in a warehouse space that sits behind our current shop. After painstakingly renovating that space and getting our roasting business off the ground, our neighbor, a cigar and vape shop, vacated their space. We had no intention of starting a coffee shop so soon but loved the building and didn’t want to miss an opportunity. The building is a Quonset hut addition that serviced a farm implements business that had operated in the main building since 1918. After several transitions, it became the cigar shop. When we took over, the shop was ripe with cigar and cigarette smoke smell and even had a sign discouraging women from hanging out. Our biggest challenge was purging the cigar and cigarette smoke.
We renovated the custom humidor that was left behind into the roasting room, and repurposed cedar shelves from the humidor into our coffee bar, with the help of a live edge coffee table purchased from our other neighbor’s midcentury modern antique collection. We maintained a bit of the “Casablanca” feel, which was an easy design transition from cigars to coffee. I think the paint previously used was actually called “Latte.”
What’s your approach to coffee?
Our approach to crafting great coffee starts with our roasting process. We use a fluid bed roaster, which requires a great deal of manual interaction during the roast. This enables us to craft coffees with distinct profiles. Brewing Four Monkeys coffee for our customers allows us to put our vision in their cup. We also source only certified organic beans, our packaging—including labels and all of our to-go items—are 100% industrial compostable.
We love sharing the joys of coffee with our customers and have met so many amazing people from those who have spent time on working coffee farms to those who are just trying their first cup of specialty coffee!
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We mainly do pour-over, using Kalita Wave and Hario V60 brewers. We have a ’92 Nuova Simonelli MAC Digit that performs flawlessly and hope to one day upgrade that to a Slayer Steam. We also have a BUNN ICB we programmed to get the most out of our beans for the few occasions we batch brew.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
As we transition from roaster to shop, we are currently just open to the public for limited hours but hope to open full time in the near future.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
We’re pretty big on DIY, so we did most of the work ourselves, however we couldn’t do it alone and would like to thank: Eric Dejesus and Beth Duby of easysubcult for helping us with the interior, Jodi Whalen and Phil Merrick from August First in Burlington, VT for their assistance with our layout and workflow, Röbi Eugster for muscle and answering 1,000 construction questions, and Robyn Jasko and Paul David of The Hive Cafe for giving us the push to get our business started.
Thank you for considering us!
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