Sourdough toast topped with kimchi jam, goat cheese, and arugula? The third wave of toast has hit Jacksonville. Say hello to a brand new craft beer and multi-roaster espresso bar, Brew Five Points in Jacksonville, Florida. This new bar opened up in the hip Riverside neighborhood and joins Bold Bean's original outpost (we covered BB's new beachside build-out earlier this summer).
This new cafe has a lot to offer–and we asked managing partner Jack Twachtman all about it.
As told to Sprudge by Jack Twachtman.
Can you tell us a bit about your new space?
BREW Five Points is located in a 1,200 square foot retail space in the Five Points Theatre Building. Five Points is a historic retail district in the Riverside neighborhood of Jacksonville. The area has long been considered the “bohemian” district and has undergone many changes throughout its colorful history. Over the past year or so, it’s experienced a fairly significant resurgence and seen several new bars and restaurants open up shop. By the end of the year, every single location will be filled, something that the area hasn’t seen in many, many years.
Our space in particular has gone through many transitions as well. Within the past six years or so it has been a bike shop, a cafe, an ice cream shop and a Tasti-D-Lite. After the bike shop changed locations, all the tenants that followed kept the left-behind slat board, something that always bothered me. When the landlord approached us about opening a coffee shop in the space, our first order of business was to rip all that crap down! We put a lot of thought and care into the design of the space. We couldn’t let it be just another flash-in-the-pan business, we had to make a splash. My partner, Jason, is also a partner in an architectural and interior design firm called Content Design Group. He came up with a really great plan that everyone is super stoked about. If I had to classify it, I’d say the aesthetic is somewhat modern industrial with exposed ceilings, concrete bar top and floors, custom wooden community tables and great lighting. We’re using this great tile that resembles reclaimed wood that turned out really nice!
What's your approach to coffee…and craft beer?
Jacksonville is not a coffee town (yet), but we’re trying to change that. There’s some real momentum ever since our good friends over at Bold Bean opened their retail location a few years ago. Before that there were maybe a handful of coffee shops and none of them really approached it from the craft or specialty angle. Thankfully Bold Bean was able to do much of the legwork in introducing specialty coffee to the population and they are careful to be very inviting and approachable to those who are evolving beyond Starbucks and the like. Our focus at BREW will be espresso specifically and doing our best to educate our customers. At night, we’ll operate more as a bar so we won’t be doing pour-overs in order to keep things efficient and quick. We are taking a pretty hard-line approach to how our espresso is served. We’ll pour shots, macchiatos, cappuccinos and lattes but we won’t offer syrups. There will be simple syrup and honey on the counter but we’re actively trying to steer people away from things that take away from the inherent flavors of the coffee. Initially we wanted to stay away from drip coffee completely but it’s looking like we will be brewing auto-drip until 10am or so for the morning commuter crowd. We also have killer cold brew and an amazing selection of bottled craft sodas that have been a huge success.
Our craft beer program will be focused on canned beer. What I love about the combination of coffee and beer is that, here in the States at least, they’ve always sort of been staples of the working class yet the craft movement has elevated them to something new and inspired through experimentation and a respectful disregard for the old ways of doing things. To me this is a very American way of thinking that I’m proud to be a part of. The Italians did amazing things with coffee just like the Germans with beer, but they are bound by tradition, whereas Americans are taking things to new and exciting levels. Essentially, we want to highlight the people and stories behind what we serve and act as a bridge between creator and consumer. Our space is fairly small which we believe will allow us to do just that unlike high-volume shops and bars.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up? What kind of coffee are you servin' up?
One of the challenges we faced in opening a shop with such an ambitious mission is the lack of experienced baristas. Hopefully we can help change that scenario, but for the most part, we are all at square one, learning as we go. On the one hand, it’s a struggle but it also provides us with a rare and valuable opportunity–to grow and learn right alongside our customers. Something about that feels very organic and exciting to me and in a sense it removes some of the pretension. We are very much committed to quality and setting high standards but we make no secret about the fact that we are all pretty green. Passionate and determined, but green.
As such, we’ve chosen tried and true equipment that can be serviced if need be. We are using a two-group La Marzocco GB5 with two Mazzer Major grinders, one for our standard Bold Bean Sweet Spot espresso and one for our featured espresso. We’d like to expand and open new shops and explore different equipment options to give each location its own unique set-up but this one is working well for us so far.
We’ll be working primarily with our local friends at Bold Bean to supply our beans for our espresso drinks but we also want to expose the community to some of the other great craft roasters from around the country. This is what will really set us apart from Bold Bean. When you come to BREW and order a shot of espresso, we’ll recommend trying our featured espresso which will come from one of several rotating brands we will be working with. While we get used to the operation, we’ll be brewing single origin coffees from Bold Bean but we have several other roasters lined up once we’re ready starting with Coava in Portland and Flat Track in Austin. I’m originally from Texas and travel to Austin several times a year for fun and inspiration. During my last trip, I met some of the fine folks at Flat Track and fell in love with everything about their business and the coffee they make! We also have Tweed and Four Barrel lined up. Before venturing into the service industry, I did sales and marketing for a handmade messenger bag and cycling accessory company called Burro Bags. As a small company we dealt almost exclusively with independent bike shops made up of people just like us and personal relationships were very important to making sales and growing the business. I love the coffee industry because it feels very much the same way. There’s a sense of community and camaraderie among coffee professionals because we’re all out there hustlin' and passionate about the craft.
You're currently in soft open status. When are you gonna open hard?
We’re open so hard right now! We ran into many obstacles with trying to obtain our beer and wine license. You’d think something as simple as a craft beer/espresso bar is an easy enough concept to understand but the state regulatory agencies can’t seem to wrap their heads around it and we wasted a couple weeks just trying to figure out who had jurisdiction over us. We’ve been able to navigate the clumsy bureaucracy though and have obtained our license, which has allowed us to extend our hours and unveil our full concept. The soft opening gave us an opportunity to develop our coffee skills which was great but we’re excited to have our coolers full of cans!
Are you working with craftsmen/women, architects, and/or creatives that you'd like to mention?
As I mentioned, my partner Jason gets all the credit for the build-out and interior design. One of our investors is a web design and development shop, Station Four, that knocked it out of the park with our branding and identity. We have some absolutely gorgeous cast concrete countertops and custom wood and steel tables that were the result of a collaboration between an outdoor wood design company called Pratt Guys, and a local artist/sculptor by the name of Mark McCombs.
One thing we are pleasantly surprised about has been the success of our toast menu. We are very limited in what we are able to do in our “kitchen” but we wanted to do something and for now, that’s toast. Toast is easy, affordable and lends itself to infinite possibility. Plus it pairs perfectly with coffee! We’re very proud of the menu we developed in collaboration with local bakery Community Loaves and vegan food vendor Dig Foods. Community Loaves bakes the best sourdough in town and Dig is making some truly inspiring toppings for us like a tart and refreshing calamondin marmalade and a sweet and spicy kimchi jam that we serve with goat cheese and arugula. People have started calling it “hipster toast” in jest, which is fine as long as they try it. We’ve converted more than a few naysayers already!
Photos by Amanda Lenhardt and Joshua Talyor.