When Jonathan Pascual launched the Kickstarter for his forthcoming Taproom Coffee last month, he felt optimistic. He never thought he'd raise the full $15,000 seven days into the month-long fundraising campaign. But he did.
"My wife and I debated whether $15,000 was overambitious for a Kickstarter goal," Pascual says. "This campaign has gotten me pumped to prove to the community that they made the right decision betting on us."
Taproom's Kickstarter, which was originally meant to help Pascual purchase the shop's espresso machine and parts for its draft system, ends on March 27. As of press time, supporters have contributed more than $17,000 to the cause. At this rate, the "specialty coffee and craft beer bar" is on schedule to open in May.
Located in downtown Kirkwood, Taproom will join a growing number of restaurants and bars along that stretch of Hosea L. Williams Drive. Other newcomers include the redesigned and relocated Le Petit Marché, the relatively recent addition of Anna's BBQ, Kirkyard Public House, Savor wine shop, and the future sister eatery of Little Five Points burrito joint El Myr. Despite this positive growth, however, Kirkwood hasn't yet sustained a business with high-quality, rotating beer selections.
In addition to serving Counter Culture coffee, "snacky food items," and pastries from Mae's Bakery in Buckhead, Taproom will have a dozen taps' worth of craft beer. Pascual plans to devote at least half of those taps to local breweries.
"You'd have to be crazy to ignore all the exciting things happening in the Atlanta craft beer scene," he says. "And several of those new and upcoming breweries are just a couple miles from our location."
Pascual first earned his coffee bona fides as a Starbucks barista seven years ago. From there he went on to open and manage independent coffee shops such as Chattahoochee Coffee Company and Land of a Thousand Hills. Pascual also helped set up the coffee bar at Hugh Acheson's now-celebrated Empire State South.
"[Pascual] is a great guy," Acheson says. "Very informed in the world of coffee and a very smart guy with hospitality. He has an infectious smile and a really amazing work ethic."
Since he reached his funding goal with three weeks to spare, Pascual set up a new stretch goal of $20,000. Any additional funds pledged, he says, "will help pay for communal tables built by an Atlanta-based custom woodworker, wooden coffee serving trays, and wooden beer flight paddles."
While Pascual is a self-described novice when it comes to beer, he has an appreciation for the stuff, likening its many complex flavor profiles to those found in coffee. He counts local breweries like Monday Night and Three Taverns among his favorites, and plans to require all staff — himself included — to complete the Cicerone examination, a beer sommelier program based out of Chicago.
"[Small-scale beer and coffee makers] can be a bit more choosy with quality and selection of smaller batches of ingredients," Pascual says. "I appreciate the attitude and culture surrounding [both], which includes a lot of community and camaraderie. Anyone serious about the craft usually displays an extremely contagious passion for what they're doing. It's no surprise that a lot of specialty coffee enthusiasts are also craft beer drinkers."