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Grounds for change: A surge of coffee roasters in Salt Lake City

New attitude » Publik Coffee Roasters among the “third wave” of bean purveyors whose aim is to extol quality, while turning coffee into art.

By Kathy Stephenson

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Jun 03 2014 08:29 am • Last Updated Jun 04 2014 02:17 pm

Salt Lake City’s coffee culture is percolating these days with new roasters, shops and a lighter view of how your morning cup of Joe should taste.

Matt Bourgeois, co-owner of Publik Coffee Roasters, a new Salt Lake City coffee business, says it is called the "third wave."

At a glance

Publik Coffee Roasters

Buy bags of freshly roasted single-origin coffee to take home or enjoy an espresso, cappuccino or latte in this newly renovated urban space.

Where » 975 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City.

Hours » Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Food » Toast with a range of toppings, from locally made jam to avocado, is available on bread made by Red Bicycle Breadworks in Park City.

Prices » Coffee and tea, $2 to $4.50; food, $2.25 to $8.

Park City » Publik Coffee Roasters also has a coffee shop next to the Kimball Arts Center, 638 Park Ave., Park City.

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The first wave, he said, was the spread of coffee around the world and the creation of convenient — but not-so-delicious — freeze-dried coffee found in grocery stores after World War II.

The second, led by Starbucks, was the mass marketing of higher-quality, dark-roasted coffees, espressos and other coffee-based beverages.

With the third wave, the focus turns coffee into art, putting quality over quantity and community over corporate.

"It’s a new attitude," Bourgeois said. "It’s more like wine and showing what each bean has to offer."

The result is the spread of high-tech roasting and cutting-edge cafes in cities across the country — including Salt Lake City.

New offerings » Publik Coffee Roasters, Salt Lake City’s newest "third wave" coffee shop, opened in mid-May in a restored print shop at 975 S. West Temple. High ceilings, a wall of windows, exposed brick and reclaimed wood — including a piece that was originally part of a barn owned by billionaire businessman Bill Gates — combine to create the urban space.

The two-story building, where customers can look down onto the main floor from the upper seating area, is part roasting facility, part coffee house and part community gathering spot, with meeting rooms and a large open space for events.

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The word "publik" is Dutch for community, said Bourgeois, who spent years in the restaurant industry before deciding to switch gears.

"I was looking into doing something with either wine or coffee," he said. "The people in coffee were cooler."

Like most third-wave coffee houses, Publik focuses on buying beans from a single place of origin and customizing the roasting to capture the best flavors of that place. Typically that means a lighter roast than what the previous generation of coffee houses offered.

"With a dark roast, the only flavor you get is burned coffee," said Bourgeois, who co-owns Publik with business partner Missy Greis.

Publik has joined with other small coffee roasters to source its high-quality beans from farms in Kenya, Panama, Guatemala, Ethiopia and other international locales.

Once the green beans get to Utah, they receive a high-tech treatment in a computerized infrared roaster that includes an afterburner so that the neighbors don’t smell the strong odors emitted.

It’s one of several environmental practices, including solar panels, that the company has implemented.

Saturated city » Even before Publik opened, the list of Salt Lake City coffee roasters looked rather impressive, especially considering many Utahns eschew hot caffeine-filled beverages.

The Salt Lake Roasting Co., Caffe d’bolla and Nobrow Coffee Werks are retail operations that have been around for many years while Jack Mormon Coffee Co., Millcreek Coffee Roasters and Rimini Coffee are well-established wholesalers that sell fresh-roasted beans in markets, grocery stores and restaurants.

But there are several up-and-comers that are brewing attention, including Blue Copper Roasters, Charming Beard, Joffees Coffees and Silver Bean Coffee.

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