I had the opportunity to sit down with head roaster and co-owner of Kalamazoo Coffee Company, Garrett Krugh, and chat about the KCC story. To be completely honest, we did not sit down at all. In fact, I came over in the middle of a roast. Because both the equipment and beans need a considerable amount of paid close attention, Garrett kindly offered to show and explain to me the roasting process as he worked.
After having worked at The Strutt for the last few years, a coffee bar and music venue that closed its doors in 2012, Garrett and his business partner Darren Bain (owner of The Strutt), decided to transition into a bigger space that would let them host a bigger range of operations and products. Besides being serving coffee and providing a stage for musicians, The Strutt offered several beers brewed in house on tap which was only another reason why it was such a success in Kalamazoo. Their new venture would be known as the Kalamazoo Coffee Company operating its own in-house cafe to be called Black Owl Cafe that would offer a larger range of small batch coffee, provide a bigger music venue and allow them to continue to keep offering their Strutt established craft beers as well.
One of the first things that caught my eye the first time I visited Black Owl Cafe was how thoughtfully decorated they space was. While I didn’t include a shot of the outside of the building because it started to rain that day, Black Owl Cafe is tucked away into the side of an older five thousand square foot warehouse that was originally headquarters of Norm’s Electric Motor Repairs for the last forty years. Some the first things you’ll notice as you walk in are the array of different barn wood style slabs of wood for walls, the vintage tin style ceiling tiles, matured light fixtures and exposed metal ventilation tubes spearing above you. The large windows on the one side of the cafe manages to fully open up the whole room with a beautiful cool and soft diffused light to make everything extra attractive and photo worthy for everyone who truly enjoys posting everything they eat and drink on Instagram (including myself). The decor owes the majority of credit to co-founder Darren Bain who built out the area from what used to be a not so pretty office space. A fair amount of the wood used in the process are upcycled pieces of wood from different places in the area including pieces of furniture from his old business, The Strutt. In fact, the big slab of cherry wood used for the bar top up front was actually the exact same one from there. In the corner their cafe mascot, a plastic garden Owl decoration with steampunk goggles perches next to the wooden cage that houses a cutout of Waldo hanging near the staircase. While its quirky to most, it actually fits in quite well with everything else.
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