BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Sipping on a chai latte, Kathy Winters sighed deeply.
“This feels very spa-like,” said Winters, one of a dozen guests participating in a coffee tasting at Copper Press Roastery in the Shops at Blue Creek.
Set to open in the next few weeks, Copper Press Roastery owners David Schwartz, Gareth Jones and Alex Guardiola have been hosting weekly soft opening events to get feedback on their own roasted coffee blends, teas and sweets before the grand opening by the end of the month.
“Coffee brings people together,” said Schwartz, as he and Guardiola passed out small cups to guests on January 29.
The Peruvian is a light roast designed to be smooth with a fruity, citrus flavor.
“Light roasts are very flavorful and bright,” Schwartz said. “It’s good first thing in the morning because a light roast has more caffeine than a dark roast. The longer a coffee is roasted, the more caffeine that escapes.”
The House Blend is 70-percent Guatemalan and 30-percent Colombian and has hints of chocolate and an earthy taste. Schwartz experimented with this blend for a year before getting it just right.
The Sicobi blend – named for an Oaxaca, Mexico sustainable coffee growing nonprofit – was a favorite of the taste-testers, with its hints of vanilla, fruit and chocolate.
The last coffee tested by the group was an as-yet-unnamed blend of coffee from Sumatra, Tanzania and Mexico.
“So, this is tricontinental,” commented Matt Zwyer as he slurped the coffee – the best method for really tasting the flavor.
While supporting Mexican farmers involved in growing and harvesting coffee, Copper Press Roastery is also dedicated to teaming up with other nonprofits. Schwartz, who is a board member for Food for Thought – a nonprofit that provides food to the homeless in the Toledo area – said 100 percent of sales of 20-ounce bags of house blend coffee will be donated to Bittersweet Farms for the first month.
“I hope to get to know some amazing organizations in the AW area. That partnership is important to me. It’s about building a stronger community,” he said.
While the business is named for the shiny copper press sitting on the counter, customers can also choose French press, Chemex and more traditional brewing methods for light, medium and dark beans that are roasted in Toledo.
All of the syrups are also homemade, including the pecan bourbon latte, which features a syrup made from Jim Beam bourbon.
The baristas are trained to get to know customers to develop individual coffee profiles, Guardiola said.
It was Guardiola’s recipe for chai tea latte that impressed the taste-testers. Instead of buying a concentrate in a box, Guardiola experimented with different spices, toasting and soaking them in water before straining the mixture to even out the taste. The result is a smooth, sweet yet spicy blend with hints of clove and black pepper.
“This is an elevated coffee shop experience – something you can’t get anywhere else around here,” said Schwartz, who spent a decade in management with Starbucks before teaming up with Jones, an experienced chef.
Jones, who was a chef for Nick and Jimmy’s for 15 years and owned JB’s Sarnie Shop – which is English slang for “sandwich” – has created a menu that will include a sausage and hash brown breakfast sandwich and a breakfast burrito with egg, sausage, pepper jack cheese and aioli sauce. A version without meat is also available. Pastries, coffee cake and cookies will also be available for breakfast. For lunch, Jones has created a meat pie with short ribs, potatoes and vegetables.
“We will open with three or four breakfast items and lunch items and rotate every six or eight weeks,” Schwartz said. “We’ll add salads and handmade flatbread sandwiches and charcuterie boards for lunch. Eventually, we plan to serve beer and wine and small-plate appetizers.”
The coffee shop is decorated with leather sofas and oversized chairs, area rugs, coffee tables and plants for a relaxing atmosphere that will be welcoming for meeting friends or business associates.
“Community, quality and comfort is our goal,” Schwartz said. “No. 1 is customer engagement. Our baristas will get to know you and remember your name and what you like.”
For now, the hours are 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays and 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sundays. In a few months, the roastery will also offer curbside service for orders placed online at www.copperpressroastery.com.