Two years ago, Matt Ludwikowski went to El Salvador to help a friend set up a computer lab in a small, impoverished community. While driving up a volcano there, he discovered a tiny coffee community called Laguneta. Ludwikowski, who had worked for Octane, ended up spending a week walking around the country, talking to farmers and other locals about the coffee there.
Fast forward twenty-four months or so, and Ludwikowski has been back to the area sixteen times, negotiated terms for land and water use, hired and trained workers to pick and process the coffee, and produced 2,000 pounds of coffee from a place from which people had never tasted coffee before, he says.
Typical “El Salvadorean coffee,” Ludwikowski explains, is a mixture of coffee beans—both good and bad—from the country, which can result in a “simply mediocre or not so good” taste.
Brash Coffee, as Ludwikowski named the beans he imports, is based on a “high-quality, relationship-driven, honest business transaction.”
“My goal was to learn to be a farmer. I traveled to El Salvador Monday through Wednesday and then worked in Atlanta Thursday through Sunday,” Ludwikowski says.
It seems to have worked; Brash won the Southeast Regional Brewers Cup in 2012. The coffee is currently sold at Bella Cucina and Lucy’s Market, and Ludwikowski is working to get it served at several other local restaurants as well.
Bags retail for about $15 and are available at Ludwikowski’s office space across from Holeman & Finch at 2300 Peachtree Road, Monday through Friday. Atlantans can also stop by for a free cup of coffee on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Come early fall though, Brash Coffee will open a shop on the Westside with espresso, macchiatos, cappuccinos, and lattes ranging from $2.50 to $4. Since the coffee comes from Latin America, Ludwikowski has teamed up with La Calavera, a new Latin-inspired wholesale bakery, to supply muffins, croissants, empanadas, and concha (sweetbread), including some vegan varieties.
Brash Coffee’s decor will mimic the organic nature of the coffee with woods and an industrial feel. There will be a large community table for standing around in the center of the space where customers may find pour-over coffee being made right next to them. Ludwikowski says there won’t be any counters.
“I like being able to walk into Octane or Condesa and stand at the bar and talk to the barista, but you end up being in the way,” he says. “The concept here is designed around sharing together.”
He points out that the menu is intended to be simple. “A lot of times you walk into a coffee shop and feel like you’re not smart enough to order. I think coffee should be simple and delicious, not pretentious.”