In all of our years doing the Build-Outs Of Summer, encompassing hundreds of cafes, this may just be our first tea-focused entry. Sure there is coffee at Oklahoma City's Woodshed Coffee & Tea, but given that the company began life simply as Woodshed Tea, you'll have to forgive us for letting the tea take the lead.
After two years in business, Woodshed decided it was time to open a retail space to show off their curated list of loose leaf teas. And with this expansion came the chance to explore new drink options, namely coffee, which they are doing inside their beautiful new cafe. Coffee and tea, together like they should be, under one roof at Woodshed Coffee & Tea in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
As told to Sprudge by Sam DuRegger.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Woodshed Coffee & Tea started two years ago with our first product—Woodshed Tea. We’ve been importing a curated selection of quality loose leaf tea for wholesale into local cafes in Oklahoma as well as in Utah, Texas, and Arkansas.
Our growth into our first retail space brings with it an anticipated expansion into coffee. We’ll take a similar approach to our coffee as we did our tea. That is, quality over quantity, curating a few single origins while also focusing on two accessible blends for our drip coffee and espresso.
The Woodshed name comes from our founder’s formative years on a farm in North Iowa, where toil in the woodshed throughout the summer brought warmth to the house in the harsh winters. At Woodshed, we want to uncover the work to bring quality coffee and tea to our customers so they can experience the toil and appreciate the flavor and warmth of our offerings, even to the last drop.
This back story gives a glimpse to the values behind our business—inspiration, sincerity, stewardship, responsibility, and design.
These “cord of values” inspire our day-to-day service to our customers and help us be present, not looking to become the next trend but to be a presence in our neighborhoods and the larger community of OKC.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
We’ve been packaging out of the back of our space for the past year, as it used to be a cafe. Since the cafe closed, the kitchen was not being used, and the front of the shop served as overflow storage/ecommerce fulfillment center for our now neighbors: Blue Seven.
When we began packaging, we weren’t looking for a retail space. But after ongoing conversations with the owner of Blue Seven (and some pleading from the employees), we agreed upon a concept that would create a connected space for our coffee and tea shop to be a part of the flow of his patrons.
This design decision led us to Gardner Architects, where Hana Waugh and Jeremy Gardner projected our values and vision into a beautiful design. With a lot of collaboration, we settled on a monochromatic look and a sloped ceiling (to mimic a slanted woodshed roof) that draws the eye to the bar. We also decided on sky blue fixtures, counters, and millwork, topped with white equipment including a two-group La Marzocco Linea, an Alpha Dominche Mod-2, and a white Curtis G4.
We are finalizing the interior details and are currently working to curate tables and chairs that reflect our Stewardship & Responsibility values. We plan to use sustainable and recyclable products for our tables, chairs, and standup counter along the north wall. As we budget out our final build-out, we find ourselves wrestling with the cost of sustainable products and continue to lean into the Yvon Chouinard philosophy—we must be responsible, but we also can’t go broke. It’s a good balance, one that makes us constantly re-commit ourselves to our values.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Build Momentum. We are not trailblazers. This pivotal and difficult work was done by other shops here in Oklahoma City—shops we love, have frequented, and even supply tea to. Shops like Evoke, Elemental, Clarity, Coffee Slingers, and Leaf + Bean have been pushing the boundary of coffee in Oklahoma City for about a decade. Anything we do is because they’ve created a market for light to medium roasted coffee with a dedication to the craft of coffee and tea creation. Each of these shops has their own strength and status within the community. Woodshed is here because there seems to be an opportunity to serve Oklahoma City proper with the same clarity and dedication that shops in Downtown/Midtown and Edmond have evoked for years.
Curated Quality. We are excited to bring our curated selection of coffee and tea to this market. We’re particularly enthusiastic about our two house blends—Woodshed Drip and Espresso #2—which showcase our grasp of balanced acidity and brightness with a bold, crisp finish. We will also curate a few single origin reserve coffees for preparation on the Steampunk, as well as full tea production on the Steampunk, which allows us to very deliberately customize the brewing parameters to create our favorite expression of the coffee or tea. Lastly, we’ve been testing and tweaking our take on bottled cold drinks with two cold brew recipes and our Matcha + Oat Milk recipe.
We strive to make base coffee and tea offerings accessible and repeatable, so our customers will not be surprised by the newest trend but will rather be curious to experience the full flavor gamut at their own pace and leisure.
Service Oriented. We’re equally as passionate about customers as we are about our coffee. In a time when it seems like educating customers is of utmost importance, we want warmth, openness, and kindness to be the first aspects of our shop that people feel when they come grab a drink. We want to bring a sense of comfort by having consistent service and knowledge, and we want to steer clear of any judgment or pretense. We strive to find new and creative ways to keep Woodshed refreshing by pushing the boundaries of how we serve our customers. Coffee is important, and how we source, roast, grind, and brew it is one of our biggest priorities. But the people we serve daily are the ones keeping us going, and we want to make sure they know we are on their side.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
Since we’ve had success in the past with La Marzocco Linea line-up, we purchased a Linea two-group and had it custom painted white. Our founder has startup experience with Alpha Dominche, so we purchased a Mod-2 Steampunk, also painted white. On the Steampunk, we’ll focus on preparing single origin coffee by the cup, and all of our tea selection will be brewed by the cup on the ‘Minche. For grinders, we purchased a workhorse, the Mahlkönig EK 43, both for Steampunk grind and for our bulk grinding for cold brew coffee. For our espresso, we went back and forth but couldn’t ignore the firsthand reviews of the Compak F10 for consistent espresso grind and quality. For the high volume morning traffic and batch brewing for events, a white Curtis G4 Gold Cup Series was a hands-down favorite for completing the brewing lineup, as its programmable interface allows us to dial in our house blend as well as any single origin we choose to batch brew.
Oh, and ice…. We’ll use “Sonic Ice” with the Hoshizaki Nugget ice machine. Cold brew coffee, iced matcha lattes, and iced teas never tasted so good!
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
July 1st, 2018
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
We are working with Jeremy Gardner and Hana Waugh at Gardner Architects, build out by Nathan Gardner at Gardner Small Projects located in Oklahoma City.
Val Jar is the talent behind our brand design, and Brad Ulrich is the workhorse behind our packaging aesthetic and web design/development… he is a true unicorn of product design.
Big Thanks to the OKC coffee & tea community, specifically Steve and Chelsea Willingham from Clarity Coffee, Paul Zimmerman from Leaf + Bean, Jason Duncan from Evoke, Logan and Weston Waugh formerly of Spool Coffee, Nate Friend of Fellow Coffee, Brian Hill, Candace DuRegger, David and Christa Chong, Brad Ulrich, Val Jar, Hallie Waugh, and Hana Waugh.
And a big shout out to all the coffee and tea mentors in the past including Kristian Bombeck inventor of the Steampunk brewing technology, Josh Rosenthal, Tim Walzer, and Levi Rogers (my fellow co-founders) of La Barba Coffee in Salt Lake City, Todd Carmichael of La Colombe Coffee, and Chuck Davidson of Jasmine Pearl Tea Company. Each of you have played an important role in my coffee and tea journey. Huge Thanks.
The Build-Outs Of Summer is an annual series on Sprudge. Live the thrill of the build all summer long in our Build-Outs feature hub.
Photos by Weston Waugh.