In Midtown Tucson, Arizona, the new Yellow Brick Coffee flagship cafe has cleared, paved and illuminated a path to coffee quality.
On the ground floor of a luxury apartment complex called The Benedictine, Yellow Brick’s second brick-and-mortar cafe is a more complete representation of the company’s desire to deliver a premium coffee experience with built-in transparency.
Central to these goals is the Modbar espresso installation on the coffee bar that preserves open space between baristas and guests. Next to the sculpted Modbar groups, the coffee counter is dropped about four inches to lower the physical profile of Mahlkönig and Mazzer grinders.
“The whole philosophy behind the Modbar and our brand is of immersing people in the experience and educating the community,” Yellow Brick Coffee Co-Owner David Perreira told Daily Coffee News. “It really immerses people within the whole experience of pulling the shot — timing it, weighing it, and then pouring latte art. It adds that connection between the barista and the customer.”
David Perreira, who co-owns the coffee business with his sister Anna Perreira, has a personal connection to the new location that predates the new shop.
The complex is a redevelopment of Tucson’s historic Benedectine Monastery site, formerly a Catholic institution that included an iconic Spanish Revival-style corner building that dates back to 1940. Originally named The Benedictine Convent and Perpetual Adoration Shrine of Christ the King, the facility was run by nuns prior to the sale of the site in 2017.
After that time, the building continued in a tradition of beneficence, as a local developer made the building available to bus loads of migrants who had crossed the Mexican border and were in need of food and care. Perreira’s first acquaintance with the site was during that period.
“My wife and I did work in the monastery briefly, just prior to it being shut down for construction,” Perreira, who studied Spanish linguistics in college, told DCN. “My wife [Dr. Daphne Rosales] was working in a clinic there, and I was helping communicate with people who were arriving and making sure they got the medical attention and then the food that they needed, and just getting their names and the information for the people that were going to live with.”
In the Yellow Brick’s 1,500-square-foot portion of The Benedictine, food remains an important feature, with fresh pastries, breakfast and lunch items emphasizing local ingredients coming from the on-site kitchen. Lowered counter seating at one end of the bar is inspired by the sushi bars David Perreira visited while living in Japan.
Coffees for the cafe are roasted in a bright yellow San Franciscan roaster located at the original Yellow Brick roastery cafe, which opened in 2013 after the Perreiras originally started roasting with a San Franciscan SF6 in their parents’ garage. The upgrade to an SF 25 came two years ago.
As the company prepared to celebrate its grand opening on April 1, the coffee was clearly no joke.
“We have single-origin coffee that’s traceable back to its origin, and we roast everything to highlight its flavor profile,” said David Perreira. “We really want to express that to our customers that we’re roasting to highlight quality, and that’s something that’s important to us.”