EVEN IN THE MIDST of the pandemic, as restaurants sadly shutter all around, a wide array of java joints—from independent shops to businesses that are roasting their own beans— continue to flourish. That’s because Americans do love their coffee. (At least pre-pandemic, 62 percent of us were drinking coffee daily, according to the National Coffee Association.) Of late, we’ve seen a slew of coffeehouses opening, while old-established spots hold steady, too, all of which adds to the mix of Charm City’s diverse caffeine scene and growing coffee culture. The demand for coffee—whether to feed a habit, soothe the soul, or support a local roaster—has never been hotter, leading to lots of grabs and go (and, in these times, the less frequent sip and stay).
“Baltimore is a city that hasn’t quite reached the acclaim of other cities with its coffeehouses just yet,” says Kaley Gann, manager of Ceremony Coffee in Mt. Vernon and the new Ceremony at Whitehall Mill (which opened in June). “But it’s the perfect spot to foster a thriving coffee community.”
Interestingly, Gann says that pandemic is changing our drinking habits. “We are seeing a lot more milk-based beverages and fewer pour-overs and handcrafted coffees,” she notes. “What you get from the pour-overs and single shots are the experience of sitting there and watching the pour-over being made. Now, we’re mostly selling milk-based and drip coffee to go.”
Whether you’re looking for a cappuccino with almond milk and extra foam or a classic espresso, Baltimore is well on its way to becoming a coffee capital.
Here are some of Charm City’s essential coffee shops.
Aveley Farms Coffee Roasters
Corey Voelkel was living in California working in the tech industry when a cup of coffee sourced from a farm in Guatemala changed the trajectory of his life. Soon, he quit his job, bought a 12-kilo roaster from a person in Florida, then moved back home to open his own roasting house and cafe in Harbor East. His goal is simple: to bring the highest quality coffee he can from around the world, roast it here, and share it with his customers. “Our big thing is sustainable sourcing,” he says. “We also want to pay a fair price, so I can go back to these farms year after year and know they’re still going to be there.” The signature drink is a macadamia nut latte, but the cold brew also is a big seller. In September, it was canned for the first time, in a partnership with Oliver Brewing. Since Aveley Farms doesn’t have a kitchen, pastries from local bakers such as Little Fig Bake Shop and Ovenbird are sold daily. There’s nothing particularly high-tech about a great cup of coffee and a fresh-baked muffin, but that’s okay with Voelkel—and us.
Black Acres Roastery
Travis Bell has been bringing a world of coffee flavors to Highlandtown since he started Black Acres Roastery in 2018. He was a resident of the neighborhood and thought it was the perfect location for a roaster, so, after training in Minneapolis, he opened the business and hasn’t looked back. Black Acres (a name inspired by the first systematic reparations attempt for newly freed slaves) sources its beans primarily from Africa and South America. Its cold brew, sold both from taps and in cans, is a year-round favorite. The Marrakesh variety is a medium-roast coffee steeped in cinnamon and cardamom, inspired by Moroccan recipes. “We like to be creative with the coffees we do,” Bell says. “I love the reaction of people when they taste our coffee. They don’t get the bitterness or bland taste.” Customers can order beans or drinks to-go or via delivery apps, and in the coming months, they’ll have the option to sit in the cafe Bell plans to open onsite at the SEYA CrossFit and Wellness Center. Coffee, he believes, offers limitless possibilities.
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