With its second United States espresso store opening this week, Panama-based espresso firm Cafe Unido has realized a imaginative and prescient to unite high-quality Panamanian espresso with equally high-quality meals and different drinks.
Following the extra coffee-centric stall the corporate opened in 2019 contained in the Latin American market La Cosecha in Washington D.C., the brand new cafe within the Shaw neighborhood is the corporate’s first full brick-and-mortar spot with a full kitchen within the U.S.
“We wished to maintain the meals related to our espresso providing,” Cafe Unido Co-Founder Benito Bermudez informed Every day Espresso Information. “We’re making an attempt on this location to match all of the work that producers are doing in Panama with processing and caring for their crop, after which the roasting, and having our meals providing match that degree in a manner similar to our wine providing. We’re shopping for a number of natural soil wines that match our espresso choices from Panama, as nicely.”
Based in Panama in 2014 by Bermudez and enterprise accomplice/chef Mario Castrellón, Cafe Unido runs 10 places in Panama, plus the superbly designed stall at La Cosecha.
Roasting within the U.S. happens on a 15-kilo Loring roaster in a 5,500-square-foot warehouse shared with gelato firm Dolcezza. In Panama the corporate roasts on a 15-kilo Giesen roaster in Panama Metropolis and a 10-kilo machine in Boquete.
“After we opened our first store in Panama in 2014, lots of people in Panama weren’t used to consuming specialty espresso,” stated Bermudez. “Most of our specialty tons are exported to Asia or different components of the world, so after we first opened our doorways, there was a number of training, totally different brewing strategies and all that. I really feel we’re replicating that very same factor right here in D.C. Panama produces superb espresso, however we’re nonetheless a fairly small producing nation, so lots of people don’t find out about it.”
A “espresso omakase” program debuting at Shaw this week consists of a 45-minute tasting menu that features a flight of coffees, bites and occasional cocktails. The common menu features a combination of plates for sharing, gentle bites and different dishes showcasing flavors, elements and traditions from Panama.
Breakfast choices embrace zapallo (candy squash) pancakes with butternut syrup, and eggs benedict with sofrito hollandaise and yucca patties. Lunch and dinner fare embrace empanadas and hojaldres (flatbreads). Burgers are handled to a espresso rub and topped with cascara ketchup. Chicharrones are slow-braised in cascara and occasional earlier than being crisped to order.
“We incorporate a number of espresso into our meals menu, not solely simply pairing it however truly utilizing espresso as elements,” stated Bermudez. “Mario has been entering into it fairly a bit currently, like utilizing contemporary cherry which you’ll solely get yearly.”
On the 500-square-foot stall in La Cosecha, curvy overhead shelving and a retail show island incorporate pure wooden, purple brick and festive terrazzo stone surfaces. Underneath woven rattan pendant lighting, a Fetco batch brewer, a Modbar pourover system and a Slayer Steam LP espresso machine set the stage for celebration of Panamanian coffees.
In Shaw, the corporate equally interweaves stone, tile and pure wooden parts with a extra subdued palette of cream and earth tones all through a 1,980-square-foot house. Woven rattan panels divide the seating areas.
On the bar, a pair of Marco SP9 brewers pace up the single-cup manufacturing for the higher-volume setting alongside a Marco Jet batch brewer and a Slayer Steam LP.
“We do have a pair parts which might be the identical, just like the rattan buildings, that are very Panamanian,” Bermudez stated of the interiors, which have been designed in collaboration with Meghan Dorrien of Young America Creative. “In each places we tried to maintain it clear so the espresso star of the present — slightly bit Latin American impressed with out it being overly ethnic. On the new location, we wished to create an area that was comfy to hang around even after hours… Even when it’s actually chilly on the market, you wish to have that Panama vibe.”
Inexperienced espresso sourcing for the Panama-based firm is virtually a matter of visiting neighbors. Bermudez stated the corporate brings workers each D.C. and Panama to witness harvesting and take part in sourcing.
“It’s one of many perks of being Panamanian,” stated Bermudez. “Each lot we decide is instantly sourced in Panama, almost certainly tasted and cupped on my own… It’s extra than simply direct commerce. It’s like friendship and household. We go as much as a farm, cup all morning, decide some tons, after which we’ve a handshake and a beer in a while.”
Along with additional growing culinary and occasional operations on the new Shaw Cafe, Cafe Unido is presently growing a ready-to-drink (RTD) product anticipated to launch subsequent yr.
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Howard Bryman is the affiliate editor of Every day Espresso Information by Roast Journal. He’s based mostly in Portland, Oregon.