We love when new cafes open. So enuch so, that each summer for the last three years we’ve embarked upon a globe-girdling, feature series peeking in on brand new and under-construction cafes from cities across the planet. But summer’s not the only time a new cafe can open, and we’re not seasonalists. What does it matter when a cafe opens? They're each their own special snow flake or cherry blossom, and we love seeing how they get built out.
Our latest buildout comes from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home to a brand new cafe called 4121 Main. In a style that we absolutely adore here at Sprudge, 4121 is a multi-disciplinary cafe space comprised of an art gallery, floral boutique, small gift shop, and professional coffee service all under one roof. Founders Kira Hoeg and Thommy Conroy have created a gathering space inspired by the classic coffee salon tradition, with airy aesthetic touches and espresso from Portland, Oregon's Heart Coffee Roasters.
Sprudge spoke with founder Kira Hoeg in a conversation between Portland, Oregon and Pittsburgh, PA.
Can you tell us a bit about your new space?
Nestled in the center of Pittsburgh, between the neighborhoods of Bloomfield and Lawrenceville, sits a beautiful 1920’s tiny storefront at 4121 Main Street. A concept shop where the name is the same as the address, 4121 MAIN functions as a gallery featuring flowers, fine art, and a coffee bar.
Upon entering 4121 MAIN, you will experience a clear sense of intentional curation, as the shop presentation is guided by a regularly changing editorial calendar. Driven by new ideas, seasonal concepts, and a focus on artistic intention, the owners create a space that calls back to the origins of the coffee shop and salon, a place to start and engage with revolution. An emphasis on intentionality and craftsmanship guide curation of items such as fresh flower bouquets, personal gifts, cards, Bellocq Tea, and Heart Coffee.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Our approach to coffee is to offer a renewed level of intentionality through preparation and consumption. We want people to come to our space for the quality of the coffee served, taking a moment out of their day to enjoy their drink as well as the beautiful space that we have built. Our focus is on the best ingredients, craftsmanship, and the community that arrises from conversation and sharing new ideas. There is no wifi, encouraging different types of conversation and creativity.
Working with Heart Coffee Roasters was a really important decision, as Ms. Hoeg respects their precision with roasting one profile specific to each varietal rather than roasting for different brew methods. At 4121 MAIN, Ms. Hoeg prepares a classic espresso drink menu, a favorite drink is the cortado—and filter coffees via pour over, Chemex, and Fetco. Milk is sourced locally in glass bottles from Brunton Dairy and a regular, ever growing selection of bean to bar chocolate is always available, a perfect accompaniment to the coffee.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
When choosing equipment Ms. Hoeg was looking for design and function. The Kees van der Westen Spirit Duette fit that perfectly. “It is a functional piece of art and is incredibly enjoyable to work on,” says Hoeg. Included in the fold of equipment are the Mahlkönig EK43 and the Compak Conic E10 On Demand. Heart Coffee will always be available, however Ms. Hoeg intends to bring in guest roasters' coffee that she is inspired to taste and share with her customers.
What’s your hopeful target opening month?
We opened relatively quietly in early February with a few social media posts. Our goal is to have people discover us, and then share that word of mouth with their acquaintances.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
The aesthetic of 4121 MAIN was designed and built by the owners. Originally Conroy’s studio for his oil painting and floristry practices, the space features the original studio shelving and a clean white wall aesthetic common in artist’s spaces. “We wanted a minimal space so that our selection of art and flowers would stand out. Our inspiration comes from the artists we collaborate with, seasonal flower selection, and random moments that happen in every day experiences. These ideas inform everything we present, creating a regularly changing aesthetic, and new concepts for customers to take home.” The space follows all of the cues of the white box gallery, and treats the coffee, flowers, and art equally; each worthy of consideration and appreciation.
What's your cafe neighborhood like?
When studying a map of the city, 4121 MAIN can be found in the center of the footprint, right in the heart of Pittsburgh. It is a connecting street to many neighborhoods and can be accessed easily, a destination, while still close to everything. Main street is a well traveled street, however still remains relatively vacant of active storefronts. 4121 MAIN is a hidden retreat from patron’s bustling lives. Guests come to slow down, enjoy a coffee, and take a moment.