Named after a Siberian husky, Little Wolf Coffee's roasting and serving in the historic city of Ipswich, Massachusetts, home to some of the oldest private homes in the United States. These folks are buying green coffee from some of the best importers in the country, partnering up with craft chocolate standouts Potomac Chocolate, and pulling shots on a Pantechnicon custom La Marzocco espresso machine. The spot checks a lot of boxes and we think you'll agree.
As told to Sprudge by Chris Gatti of Little Wolf Coffee.
For those who aren't familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Little Wolf Coffee is a brand new coffee roaster located north of Boston, Massachusetts, in the historic town of Ipswich, Massachusetts. Our first location in Ipswich is part roastery and part tasting room to showcase the freshly roasted coffees and to become a community space for people to enjoy, and perhaps learn a little bit about, coffee. In addition to servicing the community of Ipswich, coffee is also available for wholesale customers near and far.
The name Little Wolf comes from the owner Chris’ Siberian husky who is an absolute character but also a loyal companion; a rare trait for a husky. The playful name reflects both who we are and our personality in life and in coffee. While we take coffee very seriously in its preparation, we try not to forget it’s still meant to be enjoyed by everyone and our playfulness creates an inviting, non-intimidating environment crucial for a small town coffee shop.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Ipswich is known for some of the oldest homes in the country and our space is no exception. While not as old as some of the houses nearby, it is an old brick and concrete building with a lot of character and wide open, airy spaces. The location is easily accessible and located directly across the street from a middle and high school which we expect will bring many new faces in the fall/winter months.
The focal point of our space is two glass roll-up doors which let in a ton of light and in the summer months creates a great open-air space for everyone to walk right in. When you first walk in through those doors, you’re greeted by our marble espresso counter and look straight back to the wall of green coffee next to our Probat. Additionally, on your right is a wall of shelving for our retail coffee bags in addition to chocolate bars (featuring the same 70% Peru chocolate in our mochas) from our good friends at Potomac Chocolate. In the future, those same shelves will carry grinders and various other home brewing equipment.
In addition to the permanent location, we also offer our mobile espresso and coffee services to events, weddings, and farmers' markets all over the Greater Boston area. With the help of Barista Capsule’s bar we are able to seamlessly transition from cafe to mobile cart in a matter of minutes.
What's your approach to coffee?
Our approach to coffee is to keep it simple and really let each coffee speak for itself. Since we are located in a small town and in an area new to specialty coffee that approach leads to ample opportunity for new experiences but it has to be presented in an approachable way since it is a new experience. Our ultimate goal is for everyone to simply enjoy their coffee, no matter whether they take it black or want to add our homemade syrups or Potomac Chocolate to their drink. Too often we as coffee professionals can get caught up in our individual passion for coffee and unintentionally become exclusive to new customers but we aim to create an inviting environment with passive education through the coffee itself.
Our approach for roasting begins with our sourcing as without great green coffee we wouldn’t have great coffee at all. We aim to always have a small offering list of distinctly different coffees as opposed to an overwhelming list of similar coffees. Therefore, through our selection of green coffees we are able to offer a range of coffees that has something for everyone but also room for coffee exploration.
In our approach to roasting, we aim to roast each coffee to showcase that individual coffee’s characteristics without influencing it with added roast. As a result, our coffees end up being light, but soluble, with tons of character that can be equally delicious in drip and espresso. This approach is reflected in the cafe side of our shop with tools such as our Curtis batch brewer and Mahlkönig EKK 43 espresso [grinder]. The coffees available for drip and espresso change almost daily which allows repeat customers to try many of our coffees, often in different brew methods, possibly without even realizing it.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
Our cafe may be small but we still have a bunch of great toys to bring our coffee to life. In the back for the roastery we are roasting on a brand new Probat P12/2 combined with Cropster and they have both been outstanding so far.
On the cafe side of things, we’re brewing all of our drip coffee on a Curtis G4 which serves double duty for our flash-chilled iced coffee where batches are brewed directly over ice each morning. For espresso, we’re working on a La Marzocco GS3 AV customized by Pantechnicon Designs. While small, it works out great for within the shop and it is super portable for our events as well.
All of our coffee, both espresso and drip, is ground on a big, white Mahlkönig EKK 43. We love the EKK 43 for its clarity of flavor, consistency, and flexibility which allows us to showcase all of our coffees without having the need for five separate grinders.
Finally, our coffees are sourced through a few different importers with our initial offerings coming from Cafe Imports, Red Fox Coffee Merchants, Levelup Coffee, and the brand new (to the US) Nordic Approach.
What's your hopeful target opening date/month?
We officially opened August 8, and are currently open Monday–Friday from 8 a.m.–2 p.m.!
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you'd like to mention?
We worked with a bunch of great people both locally and afar who, without their help, we would not be where we are now!
Our main bar was built by the fine folks over at Barista Capsule and it has been fantastic both in, and out, of the shop.
Our cupping table, backbar, and shelving was built by local Scott Kelley of K Modern Design out of Haverhill, Massachusetts, and as a result cupping has never looked so good.
Our beautiful, custom La Marzocco GS3 was designed and built for us by the wonderful Pantechnicon Design out of Seattle, Washington, and it’s definitely one of our prized possessions.
Our branding and packaging is still a work in progress, however, Perky Bros out of Nashville, Tennessee is doing a fantastic job so far bringing our vision and message into tangible form.
Photos courtesy of Chris Gatti.