When is a Build-Out not a build-out? When it’s a knock out. Which is to say, when the space next to an already existing cafe becomes available, allowing for a much-needed expansion via knocking out a wall or two. That’s the story for the partially new Spencer’s Coffee in Bowling Green, Kentucky. When the law firm next door unexpectedly closed, Spencer’s had the rare chance boost their seating capacity (because 80+ just wasn’t enough) while still serving the neighborhood they love. It’s win-win, especially if you are one of those 50 people that now has room to sidle to up to a table and enjoy some baked goods made in house along with one of the offerings from Sunergos Coffee, Spencer’s main roaster. So grab a cup of coffee and fan out, there’s room for everyone at the new and improved Spencer’s Coffee in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
As told to Sprudge by Justin Shepherd.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Originally a cozy coffee shop, we’ve grown into what we call a “coffee-centric restaurant” over the past 17 years. We serve both breakfast and lunch, a full menu of coffee and espresso, craft beer, fresh pastries… basically everything you need for a fulfilling existence. We’re located in the historic downtown square of Bowling Green, Kentucky’s third-largest city and home to Western Kentucky University, whose campus is just a few blocks away. Our clientele is a vibrant mix of professionals (bankers/lawyers/etc), young families, and plenty of college students, particularly in the evenings. We’re also the host of My Old Kentucky Throwdown—a once-a-year latte art competition that’s undoubtedly one of the largest in the south, boasting a 64-person bracket and competitors from literally all over the country, including a number of CoffeeFest champs.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Spencer’s Coffee is located in a 200-year-old brick beauty called the Landmark Building, which housed a JCPenney department store about a century ago. With 2,500 square feet and 80+ seats (along with another 40 outdoors), we were already pretty large, but the neighboring law firm (part of the same building) closed suddenly when our friend and attorney Brad Coffman passed away; as the last real option for expansion in our current space, we decided to jump on the opportunity. We added just under 50 seats, most of them geared toward readers and laptop users—these people were already our customers, but now they have a dedicated space that’s a little quieter than our main room, plus it frees up the more traditional four-tops in our main space for larger parties. We also gained a conference room, which will seat 8-10 and be good for meetings, both for customers and for our own staff sit-downs.
What’s your approach to coffee?
We used to use the tagline “Great coffee, made simple.” We offer a variety of coffees from Sunergos Coffee of Louisville; a majority of our filter sales are batch brew, though we do offer by-the-cup options made on a Curtis Gold Cup. We’ve also got the standard array of espresso-and-milk drinks, along with seasonal creations. We strive to give our customers as much or as little information as they want—we can talk brew methods, processing, flavor notes, and extraction ratios if that’s your thing, but we don’t force it on anyone. Oh, and we’ve got both nitro cold brew (brewed in-house) and Matchless Coffee Soda on tap.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We were fortunate to work with Jacob Ellul-Blake of Pantechnicon Designs a couple years back; he customized our wood-and-white three-group La Marzocco Linea PB, which was the first of its kind (we’ve seen a few more around since). We’re big fans of the Nuova Simonelli Mythos One, and our FETCO has been crushing rushes for years now without a single hiccup.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We opened the new space a few weeks ago, and while it’s already popular, the real test will come when WKU is back in session in mid-August; in spring and fall, we often run out of seating, so it’ll be interesting to see how many people we can comfortably pack in!
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
One of our longtime baristas, Benjamin Fox-Ezell, crafted a pretty sick retail display cabinet; woodworkers Stephen Gordon and Ben Hughes built out our community tables and countertops in the new space; Rustic Nail and Co. crafted the custom steel legs for the communal tables; and Brock Coffey Construction did the renovation work (and yes, we might have chosen them based on the last name alone).
Longtime Sprudge reader, first-time submitter! Thanks for keeping the coffee world informed.
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