Beer, rock climbing, whiskey, hot sauce, ice cream – and now coffee.
Baltimore-born Vent Coffee Roasters has signed on as the newest merchant member of the growing Union Collective in Hampden/Medfield, with plans to open a full coffee and espresso bar in the warehouse space. Founded by local barista and coffee pro Sarah Walker, Vent has operated out of the Argosy Café in the Munsey Building on N. Calvert Street downtown for the last two years.
“The whole idea of the ‘Vent’ name is that people can come and let out their frustrations and worries, and just breathe and take in something better,” Walker said in an interview Wednesday.
The company’s new 1,900-square-foot café will be situated at the foot of what was once a loading dock for the warehouse at 1700 W. 41st Street. The shop will be designed to let in lots of natural light though a glass door and two skylights. Customers will be able to sit at picnic tables or stools at the espresso bar, with room for up to 45 people.
Drink options will include espresso drinks, nitro cold brew, coffee “mock-tails,” Chemex pour-over coffee and Aeropress coffee. For food, Walker plans to offer Baklava and Greek butter cookies, made with her own family recipes, and locally made pastries.
In addition to serving coffee and baked goods, Walker also plans to showcase local artists’ work.
Walker has worked in Baltimore’s coffee scene for years, and has 11 years of experience in coffee altogether. She moved back to Maryland from the West Coast in 2012, and worked at Spro in Hampden from May 2012 through 2014. Her company became the in-house roaster for Argosy Café in 2015.
While living out west, she worked for a coffee roaster in Reno that converted an old tow garage into a functional shop. She said she hopes to achieve a similar “garage feel” in Medfield.
“It just puts down a lot of the pretension” attached to some coffee shops, she said of her design. “It’s just as much about the community and relationships that you build as the quality.”
Union Collective is a “Made-in-Baltimore”-themed community headed up by Union Craft Brewing. The six-year-old Woodberry brewery bought 138,000 square feet of space at the southern edge of Medfield (near I-83) last year, with plans to create a hub for Baltimore-born companies and merchants. The brewery is building out its own 50,000-square-foot headquarters next door, with plans to move there from its Woodberry location just down the road next year.
So far, the collective is filling up: the Baltimore Whiskey Company, The Charmery and Huckle’s brand hot sauce are all relocating production into spaces inside the warehouse. Earth Treks is also building a rock climbing gym there with 10,000 square feet of terrain. Most of the businesses, including Vent, are preparing to open by spring of 2018.
Walker said she first connected with Union Craft this past winter through a friend who told her the brewery was seeking a local roaster-collaborator. Vent wound up supplying coffee for the brewery’s AM Gold cream ale and Pajama Pants oatmeal stout.
With Vent’s addition, the brewery says Union Collective is now 80 percent leased.
This story has been updated.