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Northeast Ohio’s Calico Jack Coffee Roasters Pounces Into First Cafe

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Inside the new Calico Jack Coffee Roasters shop in Mentor, Ohio. All images courtesy of Calico Jack.

A swashbuckling coffee company near the shores of Lake Erie called Calico Jack Coffee Roasters has raised the flag on its first brick-and-mortar cafe. 

A wall-size rendition of the company’s pirate cat logo greets customers entering the 1,238-square-foot shop, where a Slayer Steam EP2 espresso machine glimmers like a pirate’s sword and Mahlkönig grinders purr like kittens.

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In the city of Mentor, about 25 miles east of Cleveland, the shop was previously occupied by Lakeshore Coffee Company, a Calico Jack wholesale customer that scaled back and moved out last month.

In the few short weeks since, Calico Jack replaced the shop’s chalk menu board with modern wooden slats, applied fresh paint inside and out, and replaced all the furniture, including with a custom live-edge slab for seating by the shop’s front windows.

High-top tables and chairs are coming in this week for an outside deck that’s nearly complete. The one remaining piece of the puzzle is the company’s Mill City Roasters MCR-1 machine, which Calico Jack Coffee Roasters Co-Founder Austin Barbian hopes will be cleared for relocation soon.

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“This is a historic home built in the 1860s, so the fire department is trying to work with the historical society to see how to go about doing the ductwork for the roaster in a way that is respectful to preserving the history of the house,” Barbian told Daily Coffee News. “We’re waiting ’til we hear back from them before we can move forward.”

In addition to the espresso gear, a Mahlkönig GH2 grinds for batch brews made in a Fetco XTS system and a Toddy cold brew setup. The shop also offers seasonal drinks, matcha, whole leaf teas, smoothies, and V60 pourovers with a rotating selection of single-origin coffees.

All the coffees are profiled and roasted by Austin Barbian’s uncle and Calico Jack C0-Founder Chris Barbian, who started roasting as a hobby to take his mind off of the chemotherapy and radiation treatments he was undergoing several years ago.

“The study of the roasting process gave me a dedicated source towards something I could control, to flee from the cancer that I could not,” Chris said. “Now being four years in remission from my last cancer, my passion for coffee roasting has grown on the continuation of perfecting my roasting.”

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A mechanical engineer by trade, Chris Barbian started roasting at home in 2018 during the second of what would be several cancer treatments. Now aged 54, Barbian has survived three stage four cancers — throat, lung and osteosarcoma.

“We would go to various specialty coffee shops throughout Cleveland after his treatment appointments,” Austin said. “It brought our family much closer together and we started giving the coffee we were roasting to our family and friends.”

The overwhelmingly positive response led to the launch of Calico Jack. A friend gifted the Mill City machine and the brand began roasting for direct online sales and soon after took over a stand at the nearby Willoughby Farmers Market.

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Now offering a selection of 12 roasted coffees, the company plans are to expand the lineup even further once the roaster is installed in the new home. 

“We will also be offering a roasting club… where we invite coffee fans to roast with us to learn coffee roasting,” Austin Barbian said. “We don’t have plans right now for any other locations, but depending on how well this location does, we are always thinking of ways to expand and grow.”

Calico Jack Coffee Roastery is located at 8595 Mentor Ave. in Mentor, Ohio. Tell DCN’s editors about your new coffee shop or roastery here