Pilgrim Roasters brews up premium coffee
MANAYUNK » A new café that recently opened its doors in Manayunk is serving up a unique style of premium coffee for local residents.
The Main Street café and coffee roaster, Pilgrim Roasters, opened in June by owners Dan Faehl and Ryan Connelly.
The two friends started the business together with the goal of providing the best coffee possi- ble from each origin they source. Working with small, focused importing companies, Faehl said, they strive to obtain coffees that are rated high in quality, while still within the realm of affordability for their customers.
“We try to get the cream of the crop,” Faehl said.
The menu at Pilgrim Roasters is straightforward and includes options for drip coffee and manual brew, aswell as various espresso drinks, tea and some food items. Drinks can be served hot or iced, but you won’t find any flavored syrups to add to your drink. Faehl and Connelly are more interested in providing coffee with distinct flavor profiles.
To choose what types of coffee they wanted to sell, Faehl and Connelly tried varieties from several different importers from different regions.
Faehl and Connelly are both longtime coffee enthusiasts, and Faehl previously worked as a coffee roaster for another company. He initially became interested in it during a trip to El Salvador in 2006 where he encountered a coffee plant for the first time.
“I had never seen a coffee plant before,” he said. “It kind of blew my mind.”
From there, he began researching and exploring the process of producing coffee.
Connel ly previously worked as a sound engineer, but Faehl said he was always “kind of a coffee geek.” Connelly first had the idea to start a coffee company, and he presented Faehl a full business plan for what is now Pilgrim Roasters. Faehl liked the plan, so they ran the idea past his father, a small business accountant, who ensured them he thought it would work.
Faehl and Connelly knew they wanted the shop to be located on Main Street. Though they considered various neighborhoods in Philadelphia, they saw the most potential in Manayunk. It was an area of the city with which they were
“There’s somuch population here. It could handle another coffee shop.” — Dan Faehl, Pilgrim Roasters co-owner
more familiar, and they saw more of a need for a café.
“There’s so much population here,” said Faehl. “It could handle another coffee shop.”
They searched for a while before finding the perfect spot for their shop. When they learned that Salon L Manayunk on Main Street wanted to sublease their neighboring unit to a café, Faehl and Connelly took advantage of the opportunity.
Faehl and Connelly are serious about sourcing quality product that is also reasonably priced, making Pilgrim Roasters a place that can be enjoyed by typical coffee drinkers and coffee geeks alike. They serve Scandinavian-style coffee, which means the coffee is a bit lighter and brighter, and it features a bit more of the origin characteristics in its roast flavor, Faehl said. It differs from what would be found at a Seattle-style café, which features coffee that is roasted shorter and darker and has more of a bitter, chocolatey flavor, he said.
The current offerings at Pilgrim Roasters include Colombia Inga Aponte, a coffee from the Aponte region of Colombia, which is inhabited by descendants of the Inca people. It has a nutty, heavier flavor and was chosen because it suits the palates of those who prefer darker roasts, said Faehl.
For the more adventurous coffee drinker, Faehl recommends Ethiopia Diima, a coffee with a “wild, fruity complexity,” Faehl said.
“It’s one of the craziest coffees,” Faehl said, noting that it has very floral, fruity flavor with hints of peach and blueberry. “It kind of stands out as being a very unique coffee.”
Part of what makes it stand out is that it is made from an heirloom plant indigenous to the region, and it’s made through a natural dry process, which means that when the seeds are dried, the fruit is left intact.
Faehl explained that coffee is graded on a 100-point scale and is rated based on a number of criteria, such as flavor, sweetness, acidity, balance, uniformity and body. They aim to source highly rated coffee, graded 87 or more. Ethiopia Diima is the highest scoring coffee currently sold at Pilgrim Roasters. And while the Colombia Inga Aponte isn’t rated quite as high, Faehl said, it has a lot of points for body, balance and uniformity, which earned it a spot as Pilgrim Roasters’ house coffee.
Co-owner Dan Faehl mans the counter at Pilgrim Roasters in Manayunk.
Pilgrim Roasters is located at 4120Main St. in Manayunk.
Dan Faehl, left, and Levi Heilman are co-owners of Pilgrim Roasters in Manayunk.
Co-owner Dan Faehl cranks up the vintage Probat Coffee Bean Roaster at Pilgrim Roasters in Manayunk.