Michael Wyatt clutches the oak handle of his towering Loring coffee roaster — "FULL CITY" tattooed across his knuckles — and pulls a sample of Guatemalan beans, still raw and yellow. Crack! Minutes later, he pulls it again, hints of red dot the beans and a sweet, chocolaty aroma wafts from the machine.
One-year-old Full City Rooster — in a former electric shop on a sleepy block in the Cedars neighborhood south of downtown — is not your average coffeehouse. No caramel macchiatos or iced half-cafs on the minimalist chalkboard menu, just five purist brews: espresso shot, pour-over, latte, cappuccino and AeroPress (like a French press, but with a microfilter).
"I'm in the roasting business," Wyatt says.
He is indeed. The proof is in his bags of freshly roasted Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, organic Peruvian Junin and Colombian Geisha that stand on a shelf begging to be bought.
Can't decide which beans to take home? Take a seat at the reclaimed-wood communal table in front of the open garage door — Full City has quickly become a gathering place for restaurant industry types in the up-and-coming hood — and let Wyatt make you a custom cup from his research and development counter, with its vintage espresso machine.
How do you usually take your coffee? Do you like a medium roast or a dark roast? Fruity or deeper flavors? He carefully pours a latte made with a selection from his rotating cast of local dairy milks, or pulls a single-cup AeroPress. As you sip, he watches and waits until your eyes light up.
And your eyes will light up. You will taste the care and consideration for quality that Wyatt puts into everything from bean selection to roast style to finished product.
In fact, Wyatt brews and "cups" (coffee-head lingo for "tastes") every coffee he roasts to check for quality. You won't find his beans, which sell for $13 to $17 per 12-ounce bag, in a grocery store; he is far too obsessive about his product to go the mass roasting route.
In the future, he plans to open a more traditional coffee shop space, but for now, Wyatt's garage door will be open and the roaster turned on six days a week.