Marketplace: A new place for Parkites to get caffeine fix
August 26, 2016
Kelley Baker and her husband, Mitch, had always been content to simply roast coffee.
They had picked up the craft as a hobby about four years ago — then it turned serious. Eventually they began selling their roasts to several retailers around Park City, and they were fine with that set-up.
They'd never given much thought to expanding their business by taking what many coffee roasters view as a natural step — opening their own coffee shop. That all changed, however, one day last fall when Mitch Baker was getting his hair cut at Billy's Barbershop on Main Street, which is tucked in the back of Prospect clothing store.
Casey Crawford, the owner of Prospect, had been looking to put some sort of shop in her upstairs space. She asked Mitch Baker a simple question: What if you sell coffee up there?
"We were like, 'Sure!'" Kelley Baker said. "We hadn't been thinking about doing it, but it all worked out."
Earlier this summer, the Bakers opened Pink Elephant Coffee Roasters above Prospect, at 509 Main St. Parkites thirsty for caffeine have quickly discovered it is a prime place to get their fix. Kelley Baker said the coffee is special because of Pink Elephant's roasting process. The Bakers start with high-quality beans with interesting flavor profiles, then roast them lightly in an effort to highlight the taste of the bean itself instead of a dark, roast flavor.
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"We're different from the dark roast culture of coffee," she said. "There's some skill involved, some craftsmanship, with bringing out those flavors. You can under-roast a bean really easily, so we really try to hit the sweet spot with each bean. It takes a lot of practice and trial-and-error."
The café is all about showcasing that hard-earned flavor in the best possible way. Kelley Baker said each espresso shot is carefully crafted, and each cup of coffee is brewed to order and manually poured over a filter. For winter, the Bakers intend to install a high-quality drip machine to meet the demand of the crowds.
"You're going to get a fresh cup of coffee each time," she said.
The Bakers' passion for coffee was born from necessity. They had always loved drinking it, but there were no coffee shops nearby where they were living four years ago in a small town in Ohio. Starbucks was the best coffee around — and even that was 30 minutes away.
So they decided to try roasting themselves. It seemed like something they would both enjoy. They were right.
"We were both doing other jobs — I was a newspaper reporter and Mitch was in the energy industry — but we were always looking to do something else on the side," she said. "We started roasting coffee just for our own enjoyment. So we got a little roaster and started doing it ourselves."
From the first batch of beans, it was clear that they had found a new passion.
"I don't know if we knew it was going to be a business at that point, but we got hooked," Kelley Baker said. "It's really fun to go in, look at the different bean options, order them, then be the one who's roasting it. You get this final product that tastes really good and you did it yourself."
Eventually, they began giving coffee to their family and sold some to a shop in Ohio. When they moved to Utah nearly two years ago, the business really began to take off. They recently expanded, moving into a warehouse on Iron Horse Drive. Customers who try their coffee at the shop on Main Street can find their roasted product at places such as The Market at Park City and Ritual Chocolate.
In the future, the Bakers hope Pink Elephant Coffee Roasters becomes a household name for coffee, not only in Park City but all over the country. No matter how large the company becomes, however, they do not intend to open another coffee shop. That means that in Pink Elephant, Parkites will always have their own special caffeinated secret.
"This is kind of like a hidden gem," Kelley Baker said. "We've had a lot of locals find us through word of mouth, then they come up and it becomes their morning spot. It's been well received and we're happy to be here."
Pink Elephant Coffee Roasters
509 Main St.