The 5&10 is chef Hugh Acheson's iconic flagship restaurant in Athens, Georgia, and it's recently undergone a pretty serious revitalization, moving from its original location on South Lumpkin Street (opened in 2000) to an historic home on nearby South Milledge. For those who might be unfamiliar, Mr. Acheson is kind of a big deal – he's won Food & Wine’s Best New Chef (2002), and has been a perennial James Beard Award nominee for “Best Chef Southeast” since 2008, eventually winning that prestigious award last year. His lovely cookbook – “A New Turn In The South” – has accolades and a James Beard award to call its own, but Mr. Acheson is perhaps best known to the popular zeitgeist for starring in Season Three of Bravo's Top Chef Masters television program, and for serving as a judge on Bravo's Top Chef.
Hugh Acheson is also really into coffee, as evidenced by the excellent coffee service at his stable of restaurants and his ongoing partnership with Counter Culture. The coffee bar at the newly re-opened 5&10 is a thing of beauty (like the city of Athens itself), and we had a chance to learn more about it from Couper Cox, Mr. Acheson's lead barista there. Here's a look inside 5&10, with gorgeous photos and a certain ineffable Southern charm.
As told to Sprudge.com by Couper Cox.
What gear are you guys using?
We're running things pretty stripped-down. Custom La Marzocco Linea 1-group painted grass green with GB5-style group caps and volumetric dosing controls. Paired with a Mazzer Major E grinder. No decaf, no drip.
We hear you're serving coffees from Counter Culture Coffee! Which ones?
We've got access to anything CC that we want. Right now we've got the Rustico – which last week changed over to a 90% Concepción Huista, Guatemala and a 10% Biloya Natural Sundried, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia. Full rundown here. We really like what they do and David Lamont [CCC Atlanta bureau chief] takes care of us.
Give us like a little bit of background on what the service “feels” like at 5&10 – is it tied to food? Pastries? Walk-up coffee? We've never been, so set the scene a little bit.
I don't want to be overly verbose. Our goal is for the coffee to be a big draw for people during the day (10:30-2:30), theres also this aspect of great espresso-based drinks after dinner. It's a restored house from 1913 and the coffee bar is in a sunroom of sorts that is mostly glass. It's totally a walk-up, hang-out, sit-anywhere atmosphere during the day. There are still white table cloths, but it's counter-service for coffee and tartines. The food coming out of the kitchen is pretty amazing. Also house-made pastries. David says It's literally like wandering up to the sunroom at a friend's house who just happens to have an amazing coffee setup, getting a perfectly made drink, and then enjoying it on the porch while watching frat boys and girls stumble off to class. So great.
How big is your team of baristas?
Our team is in the developing stages still- This is the first time that 5&10 has had a serious coffee program. They brought me on in early July to lend some more recent experience to it. Other members would be Etienne de Rocher who worked on the west coast in the mid 90's making drinks and has been at 5&10 for the last three years. He's the driving force and old-school enthusiast. Nathan Nerswick helps to solidify the night program. He's the energy-packed young-gun. Rachel Bailey is our resident music critic and helps round us out. We're also training the bartenders (and secretly hoping some of your coffee cocktails make an appearance on our menu from time to time).
Photography by Lindsay Day. Up next, look for an exclusive interview with Hugh Acheson right here on Sprudge.