If you mention coffee in North Carolina, most people think of one company, and for good reason. With training centers scattered across the country, two US barista champions, and unparalleled wholesale support, Durham-based Counter Culture Coffee is one of the most dominant companies in the industry. But the Pine State is home to a growing number of quality-minded coffee roasters, and nowhere is that more evident than at BREW Coffee Bar in downtown Raleigh.
Located in an unassuming shopping strip around the corner from William Peace University, BREW is a café with a simple concept: highlight the best in local coffee and beer. Whether it’s the matte black Synesso espresso machine or the dark wood grain of the bar, there’s an understated elegance to the interior. It’s the sort of environment one would be equally comfortable with sipping an espresso or an IPA, and at BREW Coffee Bar you can do both. BREW partners with Raleigh Coffee Company as their main roaster and features a rotating guest roaster from elsewhere in the state. When we visited the guest roaster was from Charlotte’s Parliament Coffee Roasters. So we ordered a shot of the single origin espresso, snagged a seat at the bar, and had a chat with BREW’s head barista Marcos Iglesias.
At the time, Iglesias was preparing for his first barista competition: the USBC Qualifying Event in Kansas City. For a first time competitor, Iglesias did exceptionally well, earning a spot at the 2016 US Barista Championship in Atlanta. We caught Iglesias’s USBC routine in person and were impressed by his confident delivery and well structured content. If his drinks were anything like the coffees he served us in Raleigh we can only assume the judges enjoyed them.
In all, BREW Coffee Bar is a welcome addition to a diversifying and maturing coffee community in Raleigh. Whether it’s beer or specialty coffee, North Carolina has an exciting craft beverage industry, and you can try it all at BREW.