A new independent coffee and tea bar is taking shape at the former Joe’s Chicken Shack building at 109 E. 26th St.
The shop Wesley Andrews aims to open by Oct. 1.
The concept came out of a gathering at Golden Leaf Tobacco, where a group of friends shared cigars, played poker and had a great conversation. Johan Podlewski and Jared Thompson (with middle names Andrew and Wesley) decided they should start a business based on relationships, with drinks served as “conversation complements.”
“Our business isn’t based on a product, it’s based on relationships,” said Podlewski, who works in cyber security at UnitedHealth Group. “We’re training workers and staff to encourage conversation.”
The relationships extend to the producers as well. Every bag of coffee will come with a postcard that tells the story of its farmer. They include Don Cesar Urena, a second-generation farmer in the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica; and Two Cousins Espresso, based at the Santa Ines Brazilian family farm.
Podlewski said Tieguanyin tea by Master Qi Quan in China retains the stem, something rarely seen, which adds a smooth sweetness to the tea after steeping for 12 hours.
“They’re the most beautiful teas I’ve ever seen,” he said.
The owners are designing a shop with a large bar, wood floors, preserved brick walls, counter seating by the window, and a limited amount of food that’s made to pair with specific beverages — an orange zest pastry with espresso, for example.
Previews of the coffee have been available at the Whittier Farmers Market on Saturdays. Wesley Andrews trades coffee for a fellow vendor’s honey and sells espresso drinks made from their own coffee roasted at The Beat Coffeehouse.