Originally called “Hickory Town”, Lancaster, Pennsylvania is touted as one of the oldest inland towns in the United States. Sources at Wikipedia tell us that the 101st largest city in America boasts “more electronic public CCTV outdoor cameras per capita than any other US city”. Perhaps it was the safety and comfort security cameras bring that brought Crystal Weaver, David Stallings, Nate Kaiser and the team at Passenger Coffee together in olde Hickory to create Passsenger Coffee Roasters back in 2012.
Nate Kaiser is the Wholesale Manager, and with the help of proprietor Crystal Weaver and their Director of Coffee and Head Roaster David Stallings (of Parlor Coffee and formerly of Blue Bottle), have embarked on a build-out of a brand new space for roasting, research and development, training, with a shared commercial kitchen for Weaver’s Prince Street Cafe. The new space is slated to have its grand opening July 31st.
For more, we turn to Nate Kaiser.
As told to Sprudge by Nate Kaiser. Photos by Marisa Albrecht.
Can you tell us a bit about your new space?
Our roasting facility is located on the northeastern side of Lancaster City in a newly renovated 11,500 square foot warehouse, once home to GAM Manufacturing, a maker of small metal parts. We’ve utilized the old manufacturing floor for roasting, cupping and our R&D/training bar. The space is quite dynamic; equipped with a full commercial kitchen that we share with local juice connoisseurs Rijuice and our friends at Prince Street Cafe.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Our approach to coffee is really quite simple. We aim to buy coffees and roast them in such a way that (almost) everyone, regardless of their coffee knowledge/experience/background will enjoy. Implementing that philosophy is a little trickier than simply stating it…but implementing it is also the fun part.
This means not relying on over-roasting coffees that are starting to taste old to please those who enjoy the more intrinsic coffee flavors-cocoa, toasted nut-the bittering flavors. Instead it means seeking out coffees that, when properly roasted, display those characteristics. Of course, we also seek to please those looking for coffees with screaming acidity and complexity. Our guiding principles in terms of cup quality are 1) cleanliness and 2) sweetness. If it’s a pristine coffee with nice sweetness, we are interested and will find a way to make it fit on our menu.
Tell us about the goods!
Production has begun on our Loring S15 Falcon [coffee roaster] and we use a 1.5 kilo Proaster (a Korean manufacturer) for our Reserve Lot offerings. Our training space is outfitted with a beautiful La Marzocco Linea [espresso machine] (we definitely have the Linea love), a Mazzer Robur and super sexy Mahlkonig EK-43 coffee grinders.
Regarding special coffees lined up… loads! Our first couple weeks of operation we were roasting some stellar South American coffees sourced by Aleco Chigounis of Red Fox Coffee Merchants. We’ve recently gotten in, vacuum sealed and placed in freezer storage some Ethiopians (both washed and dry processed) that we purchased from Coffee Shrub to be part of our Reserve Lot offerings, a washed Ethiopian from Guji as well as a Kenyan from the Karinga washing station in Gatundu purchased through The Collaborative Coffee Source are going to land any day now… we couldn’t be more excited about all the coffees we have/have coming up!
When is it all opening up?
We began with production in early May while renovations were still underway. Now that renovations are complete we’re throwing a proper launch party on July 31st with a good old fashion TNT to celebrate. Our website is scheduled to go live a couple weeks prior.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Lancaster is truly a thriving community of makers and creatives. Entrepreneur and Lancaster local, Kyle Sollenberger really lead the way by envisioning a space conducive for quality driven production. Tono Architects of Lancaster took that vision and brought it to life through a seamless effort from their construction company Proto. We are tremendously grateful for the space they’ve created for us.
Lancaster craftsman, Phil Charles (Instagram @philchar) outfitted our space with gorgeous custom pieces including our beloved cupping table, training bar with concrete counter tops, and stunning community tables among other work.
We are also stoked to be partnering with The Infantree, a Lancaster based design firm who tirelessly worked to create a professional brand experience for us. I mean they really killed it!
Check out more Build-Outs of Summer here.