A specialty coffee roasting company based in western Ukraine called Soloway Coffee (Instagram link) this week opened its first location in the United States.
Beans roasted in Ternopil, Ukraine, using a United States-made Diedrich CR-25 roaster are now shipped to Chicago within one week off the roast. They eventually make their way to the back of a high-ceilinged cafe in Lincoln Park with modern furnishings and mid-century European vibe.
“It fits in this location perfectly, like it’s always been here,” Soloway Coffee Cofounder Artur Yuzvik told Daily Coffee News. “We were trying to do something that is classy, simple and never ages.”
Plenty of light streams into the corner location, where baristas work a La Marzocco Linea PB espresso machine paired with Mahlkönig E80 grind-by-weight grinders and Puqpress automatic tampers.
Batches of drip coffee and manual pourovers are also prepared to the exacting standards of Soloway Coffee Co-Owners Artur and Iryna Yuzvik, a young couple whose company has blazed a trail for specialty coffee in Ukraine, and whose engagement rings feature tiny golden coffee beans.
“When I say that we are passionate about coffee, I really mean it,” Artur Yuzvik told DCN. “Coffee in our life is pretty much everywhere.”
In Ukraine, the Yuzviks run Soloway Roastery, a roasting business with two separately branded retail cafes locations in Ternopil called Karma Kava, plus a thriving bakery operation. Soloway roasts for retail and wholesale customers domestically and internationally, shipping beans to customers in Moldova, Poland and beyond.
Established in 2016, Soloway’s approximately 20,000-square-foot Ternopil facility includes the Diedrich roaster and a Meyer optical sorting machine. Soloway is an official Ukraine distributor for Diedrich, as well as for roastery equipment maker Sōvda, whose sorting, pneumatic loading and weigh-and-fill packaging equipment will be installed there in within the year.
Said Yuzvik, “American equipment has always been my passion.”
While daily life continues in Ternopil, Yuzvik said it has not been immune from the ongoing war with Russia. At least one missile attack has caused destruction to the town. while hurrying into bomb shelters with family and coworkers amidst blaring sirens is a frequent occurrence.
“When there are sirens, you don’t know where it’s coming from or where it’s going. Your peaceful life is interrupted. You have to take your child and go to the basement or the corridor or bathtub,” said Yuzvik. “I don’t want to say that our business is affected. I want to say that overall Ukrainian life is affected in a very, very bad way. We have to believe, fight, and while we don’t talk a lot about this, part of our income always goes back to our soldiers, our people that need our support.”
The Ternopil shops are relaxed, community-oriented spaces finished in stone, wood and tile. In Chicago, the team worked with Ukrainian interior architect Sofia Hupalovska to design the long space, which contrasts exposed bricks with smooth white tile and the warmth of natural wood paneling, shelves and seating.
An upcoming third Karma Kava location is currently being designed in Ternopil as a family-friendly, two-story, 60-seat cafe. The Yuzviks also hope to open at least one more Soloway cafe in Chicago this year, with multiple more cafes to come in the U.S. and Europe.
“I want to predict maybe in five years, we’re going to open 10 locations, but me and my wife always say we don’t want to do quantity, we always want to do quality,” said Yuzvik. “I’d rather open one location a year but make it memorable, make it unique.”
Soloway Coffee is located at 2275 N Lincoln Ave. in Chicago.
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