A big move by Smalltown Coffee is reaching completion in Northwest Indiana this week, with the grand opening of the coffee bar at the company’s flagship roastery in Crown Point on Friday, Nov. 6.
Founded in 2016, the women-owned company fired up its Diedrich IR5 roaster in the new 1,700-square-foot digs inside a 150-year-old building in March, offering wholesale roasts and takeaway sales. Whole beans and a limited take-out beverage menu have been available since July in anticipation of this week’s big opening.
“This allowed us to continue refining our menu and aesthetic while being cautious around COVID,” Smalltown Coffee Co-Owner and Operator Annette McKeown told Daily Coffee News. “We’re in one of the oldest buildings in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city… We kept as many of the building’s original features as possible, so it has become a meeting of the old and new.”
The Smalltown building, which was constructed in 1870 and originally housed a fish and meat market before housing an auto body shop in the 1940s, predates Crown Point’s nearby central area, according to McKeow. Smalltown Coffee partnered with Crown Point-based creative design agency Sawdust to create an interior that maintains the building’s original brick walls, hand-cut limestone windowsills and hardwood floors, with new windows and doors installed in its original large cutouts.
“This gives the space a lot of light, which is wonderful,” said Mckeown. “Our bar area is more modern, clean and crisp… It’s the kind of space you want to linger in.”
Modernity in the black-and-white bar area with tile work and clean surfaces comes to a head with a 2-group Modbar AV espresso system. A Fecto XTS brewer yields larger batches for fast cups while a slow bar offers an array of manually brewed options.
Both Mckeown and Smalltown Co-Owner Elizabeth Steel trace their coffee lives all the way back to their respective Midwestern high school days. McKeown’s specialty coffee experience began with a barista job at a Stone Creek Coffee location in Delafield, Wisconsin, while Steel got her start in Traverse City, Michigan, as a production roaster for Higher Grounds Coffee. Together they aim to establish Smalltown as a jewel in Crown Point.
“Specialty coffee is still relatively new [to Crown Point],” said Mckeown. “It’s a lot of fun enjoying great craft coffee with people who already love it, [and] for those who aren’t familiar with specialty grade coffee it’s fun to introduce them. We hear ‘I can drink this black!’ a lot. People are pleasantly surprised when they taste fruit, chocolate, caramel, and really experience the ‘flavor wheel’ of coffee without any flavoring.”
With its new shop now as open as local COVID-19 regulations permit, and with other establishments gradually opening back up for business, Smalltown Coffee seeks to regain traction in its local wholesale operation while earning a new following locally.
“Since our primary business until this point has been wholesale to restaurants and cafes, COVID-19 really challenged our ability to keep moving forward,” said McKeown. “Fortunately we have a lot of community support. Online orders and our Coffee Club Subscription have kept us going… We believe that good things start small so we’re happy with where we are at for the time being.”
Smalltown Coffee is located at 306 E Goldsborough St, in Crown Point.