We get a fair amount of repeat business here on the Build-Outs of Summer, but never have we been able to report on the same space twice. Until today (kind of). Five years ago, we checked out the brand new roasting facility for Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s Passenger Coffee. And today, we’re doing it again.
The new space is a mere half-block from the original—which is still being operated as a training lab—close enough to walk over a few roasters on pallet jacks, and allows Passenger to add a small cafe to what was originally a roasting-only facility. The goal with the new space is abandon the showroom feel of the other retail location and instead offer up a more neighborhood cafe, with a more lean and mean menu instead of showcasing everything on offer. The roastery/cafe is now open, so come along for a ride won’t you to the brand new Passenger Coffee in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
As told to Sprudge by David Stallings.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Passenger Coffee was started just over five years ago by David Stallings, Crystal Weaver, and Kyle Sollenberger. Having worked in coffee for over a decade in Boston and New York, David Stallings wanted to move back to his hometown of Lancaster, PA to pursue a project of his own. He teamed up with entrepreneurs and fellow Central Pennsylvania natives Crystal and Kyle to make this happen. While Passenger is and has been primarily a wholesale focused roastery since its inception, three and a half years ago Passenger opened its flagship coffee and tea bar in Downtown Lancaster.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
The new space is just half a block away from our previous roastery. One major difference is the addition of a small and stripped down coffee bar in the front of the facility. The offering menu in this space will be very simple. This is in stark contrast to our flagship coffee bar which has a remarkably expansive list of coffees available by the cup at any given time. Our focus in the new space was creating an excellent neighborhood cafe.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Our mission statement covers this fairly well: To seek out and thoughtfully present the world’s most memorable coffee in a way that demonstrates the viability of an equitable supply chain.
This covers the obvious—sourcing delicious coffees and roasting them in a way that effectively highlights that which we seek in any given coffee, to the less obvious—being on the vanguard when it comes to things such as coffee storage techniques.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We moved our Loring S-15 and Proaster 5kg roaster over from our previous facility (literally walked them down the street on a pallet jack). The only new equipment of note is our walk-in freezer! We freeze all of our green coffee. Each week we make trips to our off-site freezing facility and bring coffee back to our roastery. Having a large walk-in freezer allows us to keep more frozen green coffee on hand.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We just started roasting in the new space yesterday, August 19th, and plan to open the coffee bar September 2nd.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Lancaster is a thriving community of makers and creatives. Owner Kyle Sollenberger really lead the way by envisioning what the space could be, including designing the coffee bar. Tono Architects of Lancaster took that vision and brought it to life through a seamless effort from their construction company Proto. Local carpenter Denison Witmer did the woodworking for the coffee bar and cupping lab, bringing Kyle’s vision to life (and absolutely knocking it out of the park in the process of doing so). We are tremendously grateful for the space these people created for us!
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Photos by Damien Weidner.