Kohi Coffee Company
Before Ryan Campbell and his partner, James DeRosier, opened their coffee shop last summer, 199 Commercial Street had been Coffey, a men’s clothing store in Provincetown.
Ironic? Yes, but that’s not why they settled on the location for Kohi Coffee Company, says DeRosier, pulling up a stool to the wooden bar at the window.
“It’s definitely a small space, something like 300 square feet,” he continues. “But it was perfect for starting our business. We wanted to build a sense of community; we wanted customers to ask questions, and have conversations with their barista while they were making their coffee.”
“And you can look out onto the ocean from the front door,” adds Campbell with a sheepish grin. A well-established architect for several years, Campbell came up with Kohi’s elegant design, which uses minimal elements to place emphasis on the coffee and the ocean out back. “There is a real connection to the water here you can’t get anywhere else,” he says.
DeRosier grew up in Seattle, Washington, the coffee capital of America, just four hours from Walla Walla, the place that Campbell was born. Surrounded by an extensive coffee culture, it’s no surprise they both went on to value a good cup of joe. But more than that, growing up around workers in the industry taught DeRosier and Campbell to ask where their coffee came from, when it had been roasted, and other important questions most Americans didn’t begin to ask until years later.
When they began coming to the Cape over ten years ago, DeRosier and Campbell wanted an experience in line with the small coffee houses of Seattle, San Francisco and New York. They wanted to work with suppliers, like Blue Bottle Coffee in Brooklyn, and Tandem Coffee in Portland, to bring in quality coffee from around the world.
But, more important still, they wanted coffee that had a positive impact on the communities it came from in Ethiopia, Kenya, and beyond. They wanted to focus on fostering a partnership with their farmers, and making sure they had good wages.
DeRosier and Campbell opened Kohi Coffee in June 2014, and customers noticed the difference in an instant. Instead of coffee that had been roasted, say, a year ago, they served coffee four to ten days from the time it was roasted, resulting in a fresher cup. And, speaking of cup, if customers wanted one, they would need to wait—coffee by the cup takes about three minutes to brew, and it’s done in front of you so there are no surprises.
“If a pot of coffee is sitting out for hours it’s just not as fresh,” says DeRosier.
The customers that did wait, however, loved the light to medium roast, flavored with nothing but milk and sugar, or, upon rare occasion, chicory—an earthy root that gives their New Orleans cold brew coffee a smooth flavor.
“The darker you roast something, the more it will just taste like, well, roast, which isn’t good,” says Nico Chapin, the Coffee Program Director. “Good coffee has a distinct taste from the place it’s from; when you drink a cup of coffee from Ethiopia, you can taste that it’s from Ethiopia.”
The modest case of pastries on the counter, both savory and sweet, is evidence that the food here is more of a complement to their coffee, but it definitely does not disappoint. Kohi sources its delicious treats such as zucchini bread and Gruyere and bacon scones from local favorites such as Pain D’Avignon in Hyannis and Connie’s Bakery in Provincetown.
When asked about other locations, there are some thoughts on opening more on Cape Cod, and in Boston. But for now, you can be sure to get a good cup of coffee year-round at their location in Provincetown.
- E.D. Kennedy
Kohi Coffee Company
199 Commercial Street, Provincetown
774-538-6468 / kohicoffee.com
Open Sunday to Thursday, 6:30 am-9:00 pm, and Friday and Saturday, 6:30 am-10:00 pm until late September.