The 2014 edition of Build-Outs Of Summer has just begun, and oh, do we have a lovely spate of build-outs forthcoming. Reports on new specialty coffee spaces under construction are pouring in from around the world, with features in the queue from Istanbul to San Diego. We’ll be bringing Build-Outs of Summer features to you at a regular clip for the next several months, and we’re still taking tips on new projects.
As the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota emerges from its long, sub-arctic winter, the culture starts to change. Endless summer evenings are ahead, and warm temperatures have already arrived: this is cook-out time, baseball season, and the perfect moment to launch a new coffee bar. Our friends and partners at Cafe Imports have done just that, converting what was formerly their office bullpen space at their headquarters off East Hennepin Avenue into a beautiful new coffee bar. This isn’t a new cafe, per se; it’s a public-facing coffee bar that allows this green coffee importer to experiment with their diverse portfolio of coffees in an environment outside the cupping lab, side by side with clients and friends.
There’s gear aplenty here, and some fascinating lighting and neon choices, and well, let’s let them tell us more.
As told to Sprudge by Noah Namowicz.
Can you tell us a bit about your new space–where? How? Why?
We built this space to speak to who we are as a company. We wanted to build an inviting coffee bar to allow us to play “hands on” with our top coffees. It also serves as a space for our customers to come and enjoy some nice coffees with us. Having this brand new watering hole in the office has already provided for some incredible energy for our team to focus on some of our newest projects and dream up new innovations. This bar, its feel, and its functionality were built to embody who we are as a company. It is a physical representation of our open, honest, and colorful culture at Café Imports.
What’s Cafe Imports approach to serving coffee at the bar?
This question is best answered by Joe Marrocco, our Director of Education.
“Our approach is sharing, more than serving. We are not a coffee shop, and this gives us a unique opportunity to bring our coffee-loving friends alongside of us while we prepare the coffee, together. We have had the tools for this for a long time, but now we have the special space as well. This is a relaxed, conversation-inducing environment where we can try coffees side by side, while we are side by side, with brewing methods outside of the cupping lab. The coffee bar look and feel simply sets the stage of expectation to encourage people to ask, ‘So you all serve coffee, too?’”
We’ve heard that you have not one but three espresso machines. What are they? What else do you have cookin?
We have a Curtis Gold Cup Brewer, a La Marzocco Linea, a Nuova Simonelli T3 II, a Synesso Cyncra two group, a Baratza Forte, and endless manual brew toys. (The Synesso Cyncra two group was actually on bar at Kopplin’s for a long time, and probably deserves a lot of credit for kicking off the third wave scene in the Twin Cities. It is Synesso Cyncra serial number 9.)
So you’ve built it out – is it open? Can I stop by?
We are officially open now. For the past two months our HQ has been a major construction zone; our whole office was flip-flopped. We are really settling in to this new space now. We encourage anyone to come by and hang out with us!
Who helped with the interiors and unique fixtures?
Cody Kinart (of Colectivo Coffee)’s father, Dan Kinart, is crafting a one-of-a-kind Made in America neon sign for our space. This will be the final touch, the star on the Christmas tree if you will. We should have this sometime later this month. While building, we leaned on an amazing local company, Architectural Antiques, for all of our bar lighting, and general inspiration for the feel of the space. Emily at Architectural Antiques helped us locate some amazing lights from the 1930’s that now sit front and center above our bar. The color palette was selected based off of the look of oxidized copper. We have seen copper and oxidized copper used beautifully in recent years, so our color palette was chosen as a nod to that style–warm and inviting, with tons of character.
The Cafe Imports coffee bar is at 2617 East Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis MN 55413
Photos for this feature by Caitlin Cooreman.
Are you deep in the throes of a sweaty summer build-out? Let us know about it!