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Buffalo’s Public Espresso Opens in Historic Hotel, Plans 3,500-s.f. Flagship

public espresso buffalo

Work on the forthcoming Grant St. flagship roastery and Cafe. All photos courtesy of Public Espresso + Coffee.

Buffalo, New York’s Public Espresso + Coffee is greatly adding to its public presence.

The small-batch roastery, founded by partners Sam Scarcello, Matt Rayburg and James Rayburg two years ago, recently opened inside the renovated Lafayette Hotel downtown, with plans for a flagship roastery and cafe on Grant Street forthcoming.

Public has been selling its roasted and brewed coffees at mobile pop-ups and farmers markets for about 16 months, and Scarcello recently told Daily Coffee News that the idea of a permanent retail spot has been growing since the company’s earliest days.

“From the get-go, we had pretty strong branding,” he says. “We got the question, ‘Where are you guys located?’ a lot, from the very first market that we did.”

public espresso buffalo

The Modbar setup at the Lafayette.

The Lafayette location includes a Modbar system with a fairly straightforward espresso menu featuring Public’s blends and rotating selection of single-origin coffees, while Chemex and other manual pour overs may soon be available. The small bar, including custom cabinetry, is located in what was formerly the hotel’s reception desk.

Including two breweries, the hotel is a core component of the Buffalo Brewery District, designed to attract craft-beer-loving tourists to the city. It is also home to chef Mike Andrzejewski’s high-end restaurant Bourbon & Butter, and the Public Coffee bar adds to the historic building’s cachet as a craft food and drink destination. “We’re surrounded by all locally run, great places,” Scarcello says of the Lafayette outpost.

Public’s 368 Grant Street location will provide additional roasting capacity — the company is currently sharing a roasting space — as well as additional retail experimentation. Scarcello says the shop will feature espresso drinks and manually brewed coffees. There will also be a basic cold brew and a nitro cold brew.

“There will be no drip coffee,” Scarcello says. “We want to introduce people to things they might not see too often.”

The space itself covers approximately 3,500 square feet in a renovated brick building. Approximately 1,100 square feet will house the roastery — including a shiny new Ambex model — and the retail component will be developed second.

public espresso buffalo

The Grant St. location.

“It’s pretty much a brand new building in an old shell,” Scarcello says. “James is an architect and a designer, and he’s having a field day with that space.”

Public hopes to launch the new roasting operation within two months. “We’re really excited about getting the roastery up and running,” Scarcello says, “but we’re all really passionate about brewing and serving.”

We’ll have more as the flagship comes to life.

public espresso buffalo

A roaster waiting for an unboxing.


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