Night Swim Coffee has cannonballed into the coffee pool Charlotte, North Carolina, opening three full-service retail cafes plus a flagship roastery cafe in a span of just five months.
Doors to the roughly 5,000-square-foot flagship location in the lower South End opened late last month. Roughly 1,300 square feet are devoted to the retail coffee bar, while the rest houses Night Swim’s production roastery, including a Loring Falcon S15 roaster.
Night Swim Director of Coffee Evan Wood, who previously roasted for Black & White Coffee in Raleigh, oversees green coffee sourcing and profiling. Rory Martin and Q Grader Betsy Brooks then step in for production batches that are pneumatically conveyed by a Sōvda Lift from the Loring into a Sovda Pearl Mini sorter. A separate Lift conveys the output to a Sovda Precision Fill for bagging.
“Every coffee is unique, whether that be varietal, processing, soil content, or growing region, and we believe it is our responsibility to showcase the terroir in which these coffees originate,” Wood recently told DCN. “Our roasting will always be geared towards providing a clear lens [through] which to taste each coffee.”
The new facility currently supplies all four Night Swim locations as well as five Not Just Coffee cafes and two Undercurrent Coffee shops, all in Charlotte. All three brands became siblings through a merger last year that formed the Black Rock Hospitality Group.
Not Just Coffee, which was co-founded by James and Miracle Yoder in 2011, continues to operate in their original brand and format, as does Undercurrent, which was launched by Todd and Erin Huber in 2018.
“[James Yoder] and I met at the SCA Coffee Expo in Atlanta in 2016,” Night Swim Coffee Co-Founder Todd Huber told Daily Coffee News. “We and our families quickly became friends and also talked business on almost a daily basis. We realized that we operated in the same market with similar concepts and operating philosophies, and targeting the same demographic. We were often competing for the same spaces, and we had similar growth ambitions. We also recognized that we had complementary skill sets and that we would benefit by combining our ownership teams in order to manage and grow our increasingly complex businesses.”
The first of the Night Swim branded cafes hosted a grand opening in Oakhurst last October, followed by a 3,000-square-foot second location in December at the Bank of America Tower in Uptown Charlotte. The third Night Swim opened in January at the One Wells Fargo Center skyscraper.
While all Night Swim locations aim to provide consistently high quality, the aesthetics are distinct from the NJC and Undercurrent brands, with interior designs brought to live by Matt Stevens.
“Designing the roastery was especially fun because the building itself already had great character and a lot to work with,” Erin Huber said, noting the building’s original concrete flooring, cinder block walls and exposed wooden pitched ceiling. “We used all of that as the canvas and added pops of fun throughout, specifically with the use of color and distinct furniture pieces. We even added a disco ball for good measure.”
The company has placed an order for a new Loring S35 Kestrel in anticipation of continued growth, while a fifth Night Swim Coffee bar is currently in the design phase.
“We want to continually improve the quality of our sourcing and roasting, and become a meaningful contributor to the market for specialty coffee,” James Yoder said. “We have so many great role models in the industry and we look forward to playing our own part.”
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.