The smell of roasting coffee fills Sospeso Coffee Roasters new Roastery and Tasting Room. It’s a pleasant, rich aroma, with a hint of popcorn. The room is small and cozy. Gorgeous lacquered countertops give a warm glow. A closer look reveals the counter and tasting table were handmade to incorporate Sospeso coffee beans in earthy patterns. These details show that this space is more than just a business, it’s a labor of love.
For Kyle and Janet Baker, coffee was never just a hobby, it was a passion. Over 20 years ago, Kyle started roasting batches of a few ounces of coffee at home with a heat gun. That quickly evolved into using a home roaster. This roasting was initially not for commercial sale, and he had plenty of time to perfect his roast profile based on his personal palate.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay area of California, the Bakers moved to the Waxhaw area five years ago. They had always wanted to start a business, and the move gave them the opportunity to offer another alternative for coffee in the area. The craft roasting business was starting to gain momentum, and the time for entering the market seemed ideal.
Now at home in North Carolina, they made the leap into small business ownership. According to their website, “a passion for coffee and a desire to create a uniquely crafted product spurred a 21 year journey that has culminated with the launch of Sospeso Coffee Roasters.” Sospeso Coffee Roasters offers the Union County area craft roasted, single origin, sustainable coffee varieties and growing practices They also provide swiss water processed decaffeinated coffee, which eliminates chemical involvement.
In the beginning, the Bakers started roasting four years ago in an industrial space in Indian Land. With an industrial sized roaster, they were able to roast five pounds at a time. While that’s still not a large amount, Janet explained that roasting small batches allows them to “set such a specific profile to the coffee.” This guarantees uniformity of the flavor from bag to bag. Profiles are unique, including a Bourbon Aged Alaka, that takes a rest in a Doc Porter’s Bourbon Barrel before being sold.
Sospeso Coffee gained commercial clients, and they began selling at the Waxhaw Farmers Market two years ago. Eighteen months ago, the Bakers began looking for a place in Waxhaw to open a retail business. As part of the Waxhaw Entrepreneurs, the opportunity arose to open a shop on historic Main Street, in space reserved for Incubator members.
“Really we’re roasters,” said Janet, “and I’m not sure if our path is to open a full-time coffee house. This is a Roastery and Tasting Room. The difference is you have limited hours and a limited menu.” Sospeso Coffee is only open Wednesday through Saturday, from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm.
All coffees are made pour over or cold brew style. Butter coffee, a recipe that includes grass-fed butter and coconut oil, puts an energizing spin on their hot coffees. Cold brew can be served with sweetened condensed milk, in a Vietnamese style.
In the summer, customers can look forward to a cold brew mint julep, which takes Sospeso Coffee and adds fresh mint and simple syrup. Janet said, “Now that we have the retail location, in the summer time we’re probably going to open up some Saturday afternoons and do cold brew Saturday. We’ll come up with cold brew cocktails that are non-alcoholic and do different things with our cold brew when it’s hot out. I think it will be really fun.”
Customers that buy from Sospeso Coffee can have the confidence that their coffee is as fresh as possible. All coffee sold at the roastery was roasted within the last week. “You can’t get that fresh of coffee anywhere,” said Janet. The Roastery has been operating from its new location in Waxhaw since November 2016, and the Tasting Room opened in mid-February of 2017.
Sospeso Coffee’s name comes from the Italian phrase, “cafe suspeso,” which means “suspended coffee.” This is a reference to an old Italian tradition of customers pre-paying for a coffee that can later be offered for free to someone without the means to buy one.
The adoption of this name by Sospeso Coffee Roasters is not just a nod to a coffee-related tradition; it also expresses their dedication to paying it forward within their own community. Sospeso Coffee donates a portion of their proceeds in coffee, which goes to local food banks and other non-profits.
Sospeso Coffee can be purchased at the Roastery and Tasting Room at 216 West Main Street, Waxhaw. Or it can be found at Provisions Waxhaw, Grace Roots Farm, Carolina Fish and Food Market in Ballantyne, and on Sospeso’s website, www.sospesocoffee.com. Follow Sospeso Coffee Roasters on Facebook for updates on Tasting Room hours and coffee creations.