There must be something in the water in Philly (0ther than a Lager), because the City of Brotherly Love is one of the lowkey coolest cities in America right now, Iggles fans notwithstanding. Along with cultivating perhaps the best DIY music scene in the country, Philly is home to some of the most exciting new cafes—American Grammar, Persimmon, and Thank You Thank You just to name a few—many of which we’ve been fortunate enough to cover in the past two seasons of the Build-Outs of Coffee.
So any chance we get to take a trip back to Philly, we do so with great excitement. And that’s what we are doing today with Vessel Coffee Collective. Located smack dab between the Fishtown and East Kensington neighborhoods, the soon-to-open cafe will feature coffee from Philly neighbors Ultimo Coffee Roasters and pastries from Au Fournil. Expected to open this fall, Vessel will add to an already thrilling and diverse coffee scene.
As told to Sprudge by Liana Brown.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Vessel Coffee Collective, the brainchild of husband-and-wife duo, Stephen and Liana Brown, is a coffee shop hub serving freshly-roasted coffee and mouth-watering bites to eat amidst the hustle and bustle of city life. Serving locally-sourced beans from Ultimo Coffee, locally-made pastries from Au Fournil, and complemented by a bright and wholesome menu featuring toasts, sandwiches, and bowls prepared fresh in the back kitchen, there’s an array of options to enjoy.
Our name and concept derives from the diversity of vessels one encounters in a coffee shop, each one being uniquely crafted for its purpose, from the v60 pour-over to a cortado glass. Just as those are beautifully designed for a purpose, our space is designed as a vessel, a carrier, to be enjoyed as a place to better our community. Our mission is to provide great hospitality, bring people together, foster meaningful relationships, and provide a warm, uplifting experience for all who visit. We plan to also host varied events throughout the year, as well as collectives which will feature groups that meet up regularly focused around an activity. Our aim is to provide an experience that goes beyond the traditional quick grab-and-go coffee shop, elevating both the quality of their offerings and the hospitable connection with guests.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Our natural light infused brick-and-mortar is located on the roundabout nestled between Fishtown and East Kensington neighborhoods of Philadelphia. The natural light pouring in from the tall windows complements the maple wood custom-built fit out to provide a peaceful hub that reminds you of the beauty of being outdoors. Brass accents and white walls frame the space to give modern flair. With a variety of seating options and a back kitchen, this coffee shop space is a welcoming haven for people looking to get work done, treat themselves, meet and hangout with others, and cultivate positive relationships with those in the community.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Our approach to coffee prioritizes sourcing excellent product that is locally roasted, both ensuring freshness and supporting local businesses. We believe in celebrating the diversity of coffee-drinkers in making it approachable and offering a range of options.
We craft our own house-made syrups using high-quality ingredients. These syrups are thoughtfully curated to complement the flavors within the coffee and provide a modern approach, alongside our seasonal creations that we rotate, allowing our customers to experience coffee in new and exciting ways.
For those who appreciate the nuances within the notes of coffee, we offer pour-over options. This method provides a meticulous brewing process that brings out the true essence of the beans. It allows coffee enthusiasts to experience the subtle flavors and aromas in a more pronounced and clarified manner.
Overall, our approach to coffee combines sourcing excellence, supporting local, creative craftsmanship, and a dedication to providing a range of options that cater to both the novice and connoisseur.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We’ll be serving our espresso via La Marzocco Linea PB AV espresso machine. Drip coffee will be served via Wilbur Curtis G4. We’ll be sourcing freshly-roasted coffee through Ultimo Coffee, an amazing roaster based here in Philadelphia.
How is your project considering sustainability?
We are considering sustainability by encouraging dine-in to reduce the number of single-use cups and containers that are used. Rather than providing a lid, straw, and sleeve on every to-go cup served, we’ll have those available at the milk station, thereby reducing wastage by allowing customers to deem if it’s necessary for them. In our retail section, we plan on carrying reusable to-go thermal cups that when brought in by a customer will be rewarded with a drink discount.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Our hopeful opening is Fall 2023.
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
We’ve been blessed to work with such amazing and skilled people throughout the process. Tim, Andrew, and their team over at GRIT Construction have done an impeccable job with their thoughtfulness, wisdom, and skill in constructing not only the building, but also going above and beyond to get the space ready for us. We cannot thank them enough. Also, Josh Rothman of Length Times Width is another amazing person we’re working with who is building out our beautiful maple coffee bar, bench seating, high bar-top, and milk station. His work ethic, creative eye, and detailed thoughtfulness has been outstanding to witness and work with.
Thank you so much for this opportunity!