This Spotlight is brought to you by The Ghostly Roaster. You can connect with the Ghost himself on Instagram, where his handle is @ghostlyroaster, and watch his sweet videos on YouTube. He recently took a vacation and favored us with a write up of a cafe he really loved down in Savannah, GA- PERC Coffee Roasters. Enjoy! -Jake
PERC Coffee Roasters story started in 2010 by Philip Brown. As I am sitting here in my hotel room reading the story of PERC from their website, I can testify that the vision that Philip had for his business has indeed come true. As my wife and I sat at their bar being entertained by Jon Chandler with his exceptional barista service and wonderful character, he patiently entertained many questions I had about PERC. One of the most prevalent things about PERC that he shared with me is how everyone works at many or even all aspects within the coffee shop and roastery. What I find interesting about Jon’s explanation and reading about Philip’s vision seven years ago is that they are the same. Once you visit PERC you too will feel the well-executed team effort that is PERC Coffee Roasters.
The Location. After winding through a well-established neighborhood lined with beautiful oak trees dancing with Spanish Moss we pulled up to their location being welcomed by their large and unmistakable “PERC COFFEE ROASTERS” sign. Their location is an easy drive only about ten minutes from downtown Savannah. When we arrived we circled the building they are located in to find a parking place. There is no big fancy paved parking lot to park your car in, just curb side street parking. Do not let this deter you. This is part of the charm and experience.
The Entrance. As we walk in we are greeted with a double door that has a simple “PERC COFFEE” lettered on one door and “Come in We’re OPEN” sign on the other. The door is weathered just a bit but has the character one would expect. As we walk in, the facility is a wide open but highly organized warehouse. At the back of the roastery, the first thing that catches my eye are three Roasters. From left to right there was the Baby roaster used for sampling, Mama roaster is in the middle which I assume is the 12kg detailed on their website and the Daddy roaster is on the right is their 25kg production roaster. The thought of Goldilocks and the Three Bears was the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the three sitting next to each other.
In front of us were a number of tables to sit and enjoy their offerings. In the middle was one big table which many employees were working at filling orders and shipping them to their loyal customers. To the left was the Barista on Duty, Jon. He was helping two people at the moment serving them two V60’s. The two bars were made of some beautifully worn upcycled work benches. The one we sat at was higher and accompanied two standard height bar stools. The lower bar/bench housed their cash register and two standard height chairs. Taking my time and soaking up all of the charm PERC has to offer, I see an old style face vise attached to the long lower bar adjacent to my seat. This is just another fantastic piece of architecture solidifying the PERC experience.
The Service. Given that we had never been to PERC before I was a little nervous, but those feelings quickly disappeared when Jon greeted us and directed our attention to their menu. We caught Jon right before he started making the pour overs for his two customers. We sat at the bar for a few minutes looking at the menu and during this time Jon checked on us a number of times. I could tell he didn’t want us to feel neglected. I explained to him we were in no hurry and that I wanted him to finish completely with what he was doing and not to worry about us. I didn’t want to distract him from his current customers and their experiences.
When Jon was able to complete his service to the other patrons, he cleaned up the brewers and engaged us completely.
While we were waiting I overheard Jon talking with the other patrons and he explained to them that PERC had a Single Origin Espresso. I queried him about this and he explained to me the S.O. was an Ethiopian Natural Guji. Jon took the time to give me all of the flavor notes and began building up my anticipation.
The first round that Jon served me was a single shot espresso with sparkling water. Now I don’t frequent coffee shops on the regular so I wasn’t quite sure what the sparkling water was for. I explained this to Jon hoping he would guide me through the experience, and he did. He explained that the water was to help cleanse my palate when I needed to. After feeling more comfortable with the items in front of me I dove in. Immediately I was blasted in the face with sweet and bright strawberries and fruit. The shot was perfectly pulled and served.
While I was enjoying the espresso Jon was brewing up a Chemex for me. This was also an Ethiopian I think, I was so taken with the experience I forgot what Jon told me what I was being served.
I was once again served a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. The Chemex was served to me with an empty ceramic PERC Coffee Cup. The cup was hot and felt as if it just came out of the dishwasher. The aroma from Chemex was intoxicating. As before, the coffee met and exceeded my expectations. The Ethiopian was bright, clean, flavorful, sweet and fruity.
For round three I asked Jon the Barista if I could have him pull a shot of my Monsooned Malabar I roasted a few days prior. Although this was an odd request, he said of course he would be happy to. Jon was meticulous with this unusual task I asked of him. He took his time grinding my beans on their Baratza SETTI. He cleaned the coffee hopper and adjusted the grind setting. For his efforts Jon was able to get a 21 sec pull although he usually dials a coffee in at 25 seconds. This was of no consequence to me. He was doing me a favor and letting me sample my roast pulled from their La Marzocco by a coffee professional.
The Malabar was the polar opposite on the flavor wheel from the Ethiopian Natural I just experienced. My Malabar was fantastically earthy, mushroom, umami on the sip. The lingering finish was creamy and sweet.
This is Part 1 of Ghost’s Spotlight on PERC Coffee Roasters. Thank you, Ghostly Roaster, for the great article. And thank you for reading!