Ask the average Downtowner about her wish list for the neighborhood, and chances are “another decent coffee shop” ranks high—right up there with a real, full-service grocery store. But what Makers & Finders Coffee owners Joshua Molina and Valeria Varela have in mind for a former furniture store space on Main Street near Charleston is more than just your typical java joint.
Set to open this summer across from Retro Vegas, Makers & Finders will serve custom-blended craft coffee, much of it sourced directly from the farm, brewed seven different ways and accompanied by plates of Latin comfort food such as brussels sprouts with chorizo and sofrito sliders.
“There’s a huge world of coffee that people don’t know about,” says Molina, whose family hails from caffeine mecca Colombia. “We’re not trying to do anything that hasn’t been done before, but we’re trying to introduce it to a place that we feel is ready for it.”
Before your snob radar starts going off, Molina and Varela are quick to stress that Makers & Finders isn’t an $8-a-cup, hipsters-only hangout. They expect the typical check to run $10 per person including food, and say they want to create an accessible, friendly vibe.
Though still in their mid-20s, the two each boast several years of restaurant experience—Molina helped open Herbs & Rye and Crush, while Varela oversaw banquets and catering at Firefly—and aim to bring the attention to detail associated with fine dining to an otherwise casual atmosphere. While a walk-up counter will serve to-go customers, tables will be full service, with coffee brewed tableside on a cart. A lounge area will cater to the co-working set.
With the warm-weather opening date, iced coffee will take center stage, available on draft and served on an outdoor patio shared with adjoining, soon-to-open brewery Hop Nuts. (We sampled their Bolivian variety, which was smooth and delicate, flavorful without any annoying acridness.) Other brews will include the high-tech siphoned coffee, in which boiling water is shot up into the grounds, which enthusiasts say produces a more subtle taste, and Cuban-style cortadito, a shot of espresso blended with milk and pre-sweetened.
Are the owners nervous about drawing enough foot traffic in the still-developing area?
“We understand it’s going to be tough at first,” says Molina, looking around at a Main Street that, at 10 a.m. on a Monday, is largely deserted. “We’re fully aware that we’re walking into a transitional neighborhood, and we’re here for the long haul.”
The duo spent three years developing the concept before next week’s scheduled ground-breaking, including stints working on coffee farms in South America. They plan mobile pours in local office buildings to spread the word, and say nearby business owners have already been stopping by to introduce themselves and lend a hand.
“We think the neighborhood support will make a difference,” Varela says. “As industry people, we love eating, trying other people’s food and supporting each other. We’re looking for customers like us, and we want you to feel good about what you spend.”