Cleveland, Ohio, roasting startup Six Shooter Coffee is taking aim at the Waterloo district, setting up a shop that will be open in the burgeoning arts community this fall. Anchored by Cleveland’s iconic venue the Beachland Ballroom, the neighborhood is also home to two record stores, the Praxis nonprofit fiber art studio, the Arts Collinwood organization and the Brick ceramics and designs studio. With a farm-to-table restaurant now open as well as a new brewery nearby, Six Shooter Coffee’s hand-crafted coffee will be an ideal addition to a scene where owner Peter Brown has already forged some exciting connections.
The Six Shooter Coffee space shares a courtyard with the Brick ceramics studio, and through this serendipitous proximity was borne an inspiring partnership. “They are going to make all of the mugs for our shop,” Six Shooter owner Peter Brown told Daily Coffee News. “And in a couple weeks, we’re collaborating on some gift baskets, where they’re going to make a mug and we’re going to do a pound of coffee.”
Brown looks forward to filling those custom mugs with Linea-pulled espresso drinks and Hario V60 pourovers. A method for batch drip service has yet to be decided, while options on the table include Fetco brew towers or hand-poured Chemexes. Meanwhile, another good relationship Six Shooter has established is with the Platform Beer Co., with whom the roaster collaborated on an oatmeal coffee stout.
SS fired up its first beans about a year and a half ago, on a one-pound roaster in Brown’s home kitchen just six months after he moved from Columbus to Cleveland. It was back in Columbus while working at Stauf’s Coffee Roasters that Brown took interest in the dozens of different in-house roasted coffees that the company offers at any given time. The fascination with origination carried over into his home-roasting pursuit in Cleveland, and when Brown discovered plenty of interest from people wanting to buy his coffee, he started selling to individuals before stepping up to roasting seven-pound batches on a shared Ambex YM5 and selling at farmers markets and to local groceries.
That Ambex is actually owned by John Hubbard, the roaster-proprietor of fellow Cleveland coffee company Restless Coffee. “I pay him rent to use it,” said Brown. “It’s super generous of him. Without him, this company wouldn’t be what it is.”
Six Shooter and Restless are the only companies currently operating on Hubbard’s Ambex, although in time that could change. “I would totally be open to doing more of it,” Hubbard told Daily Coffee News, noting that another potential company did almost join the fray recently, but then backed away from the industry altogether. The Restless shop where the Ambex is located is across town from Six Shooter’s upcoming location, though by highway it’s a quick ride.
Fans of stagecoach-era Wild West culture will recognize “six shooter coffee” as the term for super-strong, cowboy-style coffee, so thick and strong it’ll float a revolver, or so the saying once went. Brown — also nicknamed Pistol Pete by his old college buddies, just for fun — is that kind of history buff. “LBJ used to serve ‘six-shooter’ coffee on his ranch,” Brown told Daily Coffee News of the loaded significance of his company’s name, so to speak, which is not to be confused with the Six Shooter Coffee Shop of New South Wales, Australia. “Even more critically,” Brown added, “my great grandfather Fred Brown — I have a picture of him drinking cowboy coffee out in the Midwest, over a campfire.”
Thankfully, coffee served at the upcoming 900-square-foot café will be considerably more refined than a handful of rough grinds boiled over an open flame. Brown describes his roasting philosophy as dependent on the bean. For example he keeps airflow in the roaster a bit slower for his staple Brazil and Bali beans to allow for a smokier, roastier result, whereas for Mexican naturals and Nicaraguan beans, he aims for a brighter, cleaner representation of their origin characteristics. “Who am I to say what a good coffee is?” postulated Brown. “Some people might like the super bright stuff, some people might like the smoky, rich stuff. I just want to provide a full spectrum for people.”
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.