Coffee roasters are no strangers to the Philadelphia area. Local folks like ReAnimator Coffee Roasters have their beans brewed in a variety of cafés around town, and can be found on the shelves of many of the area’s supermarkets.
Going beyond roasting and selling bags of their coffee, the people at ReAnimator have opened their first café, at 1523 E. Susquehanna Ave., to showcase their specialty, pour-over style coffee.
The pour-over style is one of the most traditional ways to brew coffee. The grounds are placed in a wet filter, and then on top of the spout of a large container. Then, a kettle of water is heated up and poured over the grounds.
According to ReAnimator co-founder Mark Capriotti, the founders want to present their coffee in the community that helped grow their at-home operation into a full-blown small business.
ReAnimator certainly comes from humble beginnings. Capriotti and co-founder Mark Corpus hatched the idea to try their hand in coffee brewing during their college days at Drexel. Both Corpus and Capriotti were interested in brewing beer, but it was not until Corpus introduced Capriotti to the craft-coffee world that the two friends began entertaining the thought of roasting coffee together.
“It definitely changed my coffee drinking habits,” Capriotti said.
The roasting started off small. Capriotti and Corpus had a five-pound roaster and two bags of coffee beans, and began roasting from home. Neither of the two friends had an idea of where they expected their small operation to go.
“We didn’t even have a business plan,” recalls Capriotti.
Once the roasting was finished, they went to markets around Philadelphia and handed out their coffee.
“We went to the Almanac Market in Northern Liberties and [they] would say, ‘Yeah, we’ll buy your coffee, what are your wholesale prices?’ And we were like, ‘We’ll get back to you on that,’” Capriotti said, “That’s how unprepared we were. We didn’t even really think people were going to buy it.”
Given that many specialty roasters at the time were migrating to New York, Corpus and Capriotti felt they had discovered a hole in the market for their coffee.
While the early successes were surprising, Corpus and Capriotti still kept their day jobs and roasted at night. Corpus did not actually quit his day job until October of 2012 and Capriotti followed a few months later.
“Sometimes we would be up roasting at my house until two in the morning. Near the end of it, it was to the point where I would be delivering coffee before work,” Capriotti said.
Soon, the two purchased a new, $35,000 roaster to keep up with volume, and the roasting moved from Capriotti’s house to a warehouse near 2nd Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
Not long after that, plans for the café were taking shape.
“I decided after all the zoning was done and all that, I would quit my job,” Capriotti said, “This all happened insanely fast.”
Fast enough that the very next day after quitting his job, Capriotti was on site of the new café doing electrical work and fixing the building’s plumbing.
The ReAnimator café is currently open, but the grand opening will be reserved for The Forks Crawl, a festival happening August 10 at the intersection of Norris Street, Susquehanna Avenue, and Cedar Street — known as “The Forks” — featuring the food and drinks of local businesses such as Loco Pez, Cedar Point, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, Pizza Brain, and ReAnimator.
There, ReAnimator will be collaborating with local businesses such as Pizza Brain to make a coffee-braised meat pizza, and Philadelphia Brewing Company to infuse their coffee into their popular Love Stout.
Timothy Patton, owner and brewmaster of Saint Benjamin Brewing Company, said he’s a fan of ReAnimator.
“I have used some of their beans in my home brews. I plan to do the same with my production brewery, Saint Benjamin Brewing Company, come this fall when I open,” Patton said. “I also want to serve their coffee at the pub I plan to open in the late fall or winter.”
With local businesses of The Forks and the surrounding area already featuring some of the most innovative craft food and drink in the city, it seems ReAnimator will be good company.
“We’re working harder than ever now, we’re both full time now,” Capriotti said. “But it’s great, man. We’re solving problems every day, we get to do cool design… you might work a 15 hour day, but you get to build something.” ••
Check out ReAnimator online at reanimatorcoffee.com.