Publik Coffee Roasters has been receiving a lot of great national press. The New York Times and more recently Playboy Magazine have written about Utah’s newest player in the specialty coffee arena.
Publik is special because they have gone big and gone extremely specialized. Their roaster has a computer monitor beside it, offering roaster, Ryan Gee, readouts and timers to fine-tune operations. Behind their roaster is a massive incinerator, which makes their entire production free from emitting pollutants. Their facility is powered by solar panels.
The “third wave” of specialty coffee is now growing, especially across the Northwest and coastal regions of the US. Matt Bourgois, who came to Utah from California to start Publik, says “Salt Lake City is now ready for this and the market is only going to get bigger.”
What is the third wave? It’s the idea of producing the perfect cup of coffee at any cost. By sampling dozens of beans directly from all over the world, roasters determine the ideal roast for each specific bean. Bourgois says they are taking samples of their coffee roasted at different levels every ten seconds to find the perfect roast. They only buy beans in bulk after they believe they have found a level of perfection for beans they are sampling from a grower. This very tedious process produces log books full of measurements, filtration settings and time.
Bourgois takes us on a tour of the massive former warehouse which is now part coffee shop, part meeting space, part event space and part roasting company. Integrated into Publik is very much the aspect of community. The word Publik means community in Dutch. It was an old Dutch couple from whom who Bourgois and his partner, Missy Greis, bought the facility.
On the menu board there is toast with varieties toppings, mostly artisan jams. Everything is understated. The crowd is urbanite, young artist-types.
Currently Publik is selling the majority of their coffee out of their shop, but their wholesale accounts are increasing. “We have been able to get wholesale accounts including Stein Erikson Lodge.” Public is certainly catering to a high-end clientele, their coffee runs about $16 for a half-pound bag.