Coffee nerds want to know…. What’s up with Urban Bean lately?
Greg Martin, the chief coffee nerd of Urban Bean, has had kind of a strange year. In 2014, one of his two locations changed hands. His longtime GM and confidante Liz Abene took over the helm at the 33rd and Bryant location and turned it into her own shop, Canteen (which seems to be marshaling the toast trend locally). Martin refocused his energies on Urban Bean's flagship store at 2401 Lyndale.
Then, Martin stepped away from Dogwood Coffee, both as a local rep for the brand and by the fact that he no longer uses their beans in his shop. Urban Bean now stocks Chicago’s Intelligentsia brand for pour overs and batch brew, along with San Francisco’s Four Barrel for his espresso.
“These are such great beans. We are happy to introduce Minneapolis to something new and awesome. We’re aligning ourselves with the right brands that think about coffee the same way we do. Local is great, but to really find the best coffee we could, we wanted to widen our search to include other states. Dogwood Coffee is clearly the best local coffee roaster, no one else is even close, but it's important to us to get the best possible product to our customers. There are tons of amazing coffee roasters in the US right now, it's like a revolution! Coffee is about relationships and Four Barrel and Intelligentsia really understand the importance of this. As we expand our horizons, we will also showcase other roasters that share our views. "
This is exciting! Martin plans to bring in beans from all over, which means that (like a real bar) you'll be able to belly up and call your drink: latte with Four Barrel, machiato with Cool Beans Not Here Yet.
But it is a move that sorta shook the local coffee fiends. “Look, we want to be thought leaders on coffee, but we also want the right baristas who will make you what you want, who can educate without being snobby. We all have to respect each other if we’re going to grow the scene.”
And this is really just the beginning of their work trying to enrich the local coffee culture. UB uses all house-made syrups and plans to do some exciting stuff by working with pros, “My GM, Amy Johnson is working with some mixologists to develop a recipe for a coffee tonic and we are just seeing where this can all go." She's also well regarded for her house-made marshmallows and here's in insider tip: not listed on the menu, but always on the menu, is her bourbon vanilla syrup. Jack your cup.
PLUS here's the big news: there will be another Urban Bean as soon as this spring. Martin has confirmed to me that he has signed a lease in a location in Uptown, but he wouldn't confirm the actual site. I do have it on good information from an outside source that Urban Bean will be taking over the Jackson's Coffee & Gelato space on Lake Street by Bryant Lake Bowl.
Looks like 2015 should be just as busy.