Ann Arbor – At Vertex Coffee in Ann Arbor, they treat making coffee like a science - perfectly measuring out every ingredient and timing the brewing period.
“It’s really like this complex drink in a lot of ways,” explains Kara Sato, one of the owners. “When you’re tasting it, but also in all the steps that it goes through, all the hands that it touches, to get it into our cup.”
Sato fell in love with coffee while she was in college, working at a cafe. She taught music for a little while, but soon went back to coffee, making it her full-time career. It was working in cafes in Ann arbor where she met her business partner. When a spot on the corner of Washtenaw and South University opened up, they decided to take that opportunity to open up Vertex Coffee.
What really makes them stand out is how innovative they are when it comes to coffee. They developed a method for flash chilling their coffee. This differs from cold brew in that it is brewed hot and then immediately chilled over ice. They factor in the weight of the ice so the coffee isn’t watered down. What you’re left with is a very crisp, clean cup of coffee that tastes much more like a typical hot coffee than the mellow flavors you get with a cold brew method.
Vertex roasts its own coffee and likes to offer single-origin roasts, like using only beans that come from Columbia, or only Ethiopian beans, to allow people to really taste the difference between the different regions. They even provide tasting notes on their coffee bags to help you pick up the subtle differences. You can also get flights of their coffee so you can sample multiple versions of their different drinks. They come in 6 oz. pours and are $2.50 or less per drink.
Besides creating cool coffee concoctions, they also want to build a community. Being situated between campus and the Ann Arbor community, they hope to bring people together. It is not uncommon to come by Vertex and see a small event going on, or a pop-up from a small local business that doesn’t have their brick-and-mortar yet. They also have a Random Act of Coffee program where people can purchase a drink for someone who maybe doesn’t have the means to pay for it.
Caring about the community also means caring about the environment for Vertex Coffee. All of their single-use cups and items are compostable, and they make sure to compost all their coffee grounds and food scraps. You also see it in little things like metal straws and towel hand dryers.
“I think a cup of coffee is very complex in that it can be something that so simply brings people together,” says Sato.
Vertex Coffee is located at 1335 S. University Ave. in Ann Arbor.