Vertex Coffee Roasters to bring innovative flash-chilled brews, flights to Ann Arbor coffee scene

Coffee shop slated to open in early June

Kara Huckabone and Matt Bjurman pose outside their new shop, Vertex Coffee Roasters, at 1335 S. University Ave. on May 17, 2019. (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)
Kara Huckabone and Matt Bjurman pose outside their new shop, Vertex Coffee Roasters, at 1335 S. University Ave. on May 17, 2019. (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – Tree town's newest coffee house is all about innovation and making community connections, hence the name, Vertex Coffee Roasters. 

Located at the intersection of S. University and Washtenaw Avenues at Mighty Good Coffee's former location near University of Michigan's campus, co-owners Kara Huckabone and Matt Bjurman hope to create a space that will be inclusive for all.

"The meaning behind Vertex is that point where two lines meet, and in this case where two roads meet," said Huckabone. "But we’re also hoping it becomes a place where the community meets. Having been (both) a student and a townie, I know that they’re very separate. And I wonder if in our little space we can help bridge those communities.

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"We’ll have a baby-changing station that we’re installing in the bathroom, we’ll have games and kids toys. We’re hoping that maybe a little bit more effort will give a little bit more life to this space."

With plans for opening a Little Free Library and hosting food popups and events with local businesses like Pilar's Tamales, Vertex is hoping to reinvent its space as a community destination.

Bjurman owns Milan Coffee Works and roasts on location in the shop he opened five years ago after he left his job as a teacher. He hired Huckabone, also a former teacher, about a year ago, and said he has always seen her as a colleague.

"I never saw Kara really as an employee in the hierarchy sense," said Bjurman. "We’ve schemed together so many times and I think this is our fourth thing that we’ve pursued. We like to be in cahoots."

"Matt has been just really supportive," said Huckabone. "Talking to a lot of different people in a lot of different professions, as a boss and now a colleague, Matt is very rare. He treats people with respect and hears ideas and listens to those ideas. We’ve always felt like colleagues."

The pair were inspired by Blom Meadworks' owners Lauren Bloom and Matt Ritchey, where Milan Coffee Works has held several coffee popups in the meadery's space at 100 S. 4th Ave. 

"We were honored to have them ask because we just love that space and I respect Lauren and Matt so much as business owners and people," said Huckabone. "I learned a lot. We were doing the longer-term popup and brainstorming ideas of how to make that grow. And then we had the opportunity to buy this space and Matt was like, 'You should buy it.' We ended up buying it together, but it’s a sister company of Milan Coffee Works."

While Bjurman will still be roasting coffee for both shops and wholesale, Vertex will offer different varieties than Milan Coffee Works. 

What makes it different?

In a town saturated with cafes, Vertex hopes its unique lineup will offer something different for coffee lovers.

With cold coffee on tap, coffee flights and canned flash-chilled coffee, Vertex's menu feels more like a micro brewery than a coffee shop.

"Our goal is to innovate," said Bjurman. "I've been trying to change the world with this different, flash-chilled iced coffee. Cold brew has been around for a long time, and it’s going to change. Flash-chilled is brewed hot and chilled right away, so you have the same clarity as you would have in a drip coffee. It’s cleaner and crisper."

Expect flights of different varieties as well. 

"Something we started at the popup was offering people the option to taste many different things," said Huckabone. We began offering a flight of different manual methods, a flight of different coffees, a flight of the sweeter, milk-based beverages. So, if you don’t know what a café miel tastes like, you can try a little version. Some people don’t want to go outside their box of what they like and commit to 10 ounces of coffee."

The co-owners will also aim to make Vertex a zero-waste space.

"Another thing we’re really excited about is that we are striving to be a zero waste shop," said Huckabone. "Like offering things on draft or allowing people to bring in howlers for iced coffee. We’re hoping to just offer insight and ideas for people to live a more waste-free life."

Vertex Coffee Roasters will open its doors in early June.

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