Perpetually overlooked and underhyped, Salt Lake City continues to be home to one of America’s most interesting food, beverage, and coffee scenes, defying expectations and supply ample cause for deeper investigation. If you’ve never been, or only passed through on your way to the mountains, SLC is ready and waiting for you to explore. We’re huge fans, and if this new opening from Urban Sailor Coffee is anything to go by, the coffee scene is only getting stronger—these folks were featured in a memorable 2021 edition of Build-Outs, back when they were just rocking a mobile motorcycle cart. What a difference a year makes!
As told to Sprudge by Tyler Anderson.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
We are a specialty coffee shop and small batch micro roaster based in Salt Lake City, UT. We got our start with a custom mobile coffee cart that built on top of a working sidecar motorcycle. We rode that motorcycle coffee cart to events all of last year and continue to use it at the Downtown SLC farmers market each weekend to sell coffee and promote the brick-and-mortar coffee shop and sell bags of beans (and subscriptions) from our coffee roasting business. We are not striving to be the biggest coffee business in town, but we would like to always be considered among the very best coffee businesses in the area. We are constantly striving for improvement in everything from sourcing, roasting, brewing, and our overall customer experience and we won’t cut corners when it comes to quality. We’re family owned and operated and proud to be a part of this Salt Lake City/Sugarhouse community.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
We were looking for just the right space to do our first sit-down brick-and-mortar coffee shop and we feel like we found the perfect space for our needs. We believe we have the best view of the Wasatch Mountains of any restaurant (let alone coffee shop or cafe) in Salt Lake City. We have made the most of our unique pie slice shaped 1,226 square feet and have three distinct seating options for customers to choose from. Because this space has 28 feet of floor-to-ceiling windows facing the Wasatch Mountains with a large city park in the foreground we knew we wanted to put a hightop bar counter the entire length of it so that people could sit and work on their laptop or visit while taking in the view. We also knew that we wanted some semi-private booths that would allow four to six people to sit together and be able to carry on a conversation or for people to have a little privacy if they are on a video conference call. Lastly, it was very important for me that we had some lounge seating that was comfortable and high-quality and we achieved that with six leather lounge chairs and a vintage leather Chesterfield sofa along with three coffee tables that create three different lounge areas in the middle of the cafe. The back bar and kitchen are fairly small but well designed and feel large and luxurious for us after working off a motorcycle coffee cart for a year.
Fun facts about the space are that we color matched the walls of the coffee shop to the green color of our URAL sidecar motorcycle and we also used the same walnut butcher block for the countertops and floating shelves that we have on our sidecar coffee bar as well. As soon as people who have frequented our sidecar coffee bar for the last year come into the coffee shop, they know they found the right location as it has the same feel.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Our approach to coffee is fairly simple: we want it to be the best tasting coffee that most people have ever tried regardless of whether they’ve traveled extensively in Europe or Australia or Korea or have moved here to Utah recently from the Pacific Northwest or the coast of California. We probably won’t be the first choice for someone who loves a darker (second wave) roast, although we do roast a dark blend that we call “Void”, which some people can’t get enough of. Our primary espresso blend and cold brew blend are light-medium (city) roasts that bring out as much of the flavors of the individual origins as possible. We focus on combining flavor notes that we think compliment the style of coffees that we make and sell the most. When it comes to espresso, batch brews, or cold brews, everything is carefully measured and tested frequently for quality and consistency. We even use a refractometer to measure TDS and make sure our roasted coffees are developed at the percentages that we’ve established as our targets.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We have been using a La Marzocco GS3 on our mobile (sidecar) coffee bar for the last year and so we had intended to get a larger La Marzocco Linea, PB, or Strada for the coffee shop. Partially due to some supply chain delays we branched our search out a bit for the right machine for our needs and decided to go with a Mavam Mach 2, which we couldn’t be happier with. It has been a steady performer and we believe that the temperature consistency has leveled up our espresso. We use a Curtis G4 ThermoPro batch brewer and two Anfim Scody II espresso grinders and a Mahlkönig GH2 bulk grinder. We built a custom kegerator (tower) into our countertop for cold brew and nitro cold brew which has been very popular with the hot summer we’re having. We are roasting our coffees on a Diedrich IR-5 and using Cropster to manage our green inventory and store our roast profiles.
How is your project considering sustainability?
We are doing what we can at the retail level, but I’m particularly proud of the efforts we are making to work with our green coffee sourcing partners at Royal Coffee Importers to buy from only ethical sources. We’ve learned a lot over just the last six months about how we can make a difference by paying attention to areas around traceability and transparency in green coffee buying. We have not been afraid to pay more (above commodity prices) for high-quality green beans bought through responsible sources. We believe our retail customers are also willing to pay a higher price for that high-quality coffee experience (within reason of course). We are always looking for opportunities to choose coffees that we think will delight our customers but also may have additional benefits like being designated organic, shade-grown, or coffees marketed as being grown by women or indigenous communities. Sustainability is a complex topic and one that we expect to continue to learn and adapt more to in the coming years.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We are open! We did a soft opening in Jan-Apr 2022 and held our grand opening on May 4th of 2022.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
I’d like to mention Dusty Prebble of Lunacy Woodworks who did our original woodwork on the sidecar coffee bar and then helped us do all the woodwork in the coffee shop to match the finish and the look.
Thank you for your consideration. We were honored to have been featured as a mobile coffee bar buildout last year and we were surprised at how many coffee professionals saw that feature without us having to tell them about it.