If you’re not feeling the buzz, you soon will be at the Mainline’s newest coffee bar, Green Engine Coffee Co.
Founder and successful sommelier Zach Morris, 35, is bringing some of the best beans in Philly to the Mainline with Rival Bros.’ roasts. While you might be wondering what a Philadelphia wine guy is doing on the Mainline opening up a coffee bar, Morris clarifies that his background is really in all beverages, ranging from wine to water. (He assures that even the water will be good stuff, too).
And the location? That was a happy accident.
“My buddy owns a house around the corner and I really like the neighborhood here,” says Morris of the Haverford Station Road location. “With all the colleges around here, I felt like there were a lot of smart people nearby, and I really like to be around smart people.”
It has always been Morris’ dream to own a coffee bar: this year, Morris left his six-year stay as director of education at the National Wine School to focus on the Green Engine Coffee Co., which will be officially opening this Wednesday, November 4th. His commitment to the coffee bar is palpable: though not yet fully stocked, Morris has already planned the shelves, which will house merchandise ranging from t-shirts and home coffee brewing equipment to 12-ounce bags of Rival Bros. coffee.
Not even the custom-designed price tags were overlooked, each of which is hand stamped with Green Engine logos.
“[The logos] were designed by my brother-in-law,” says Morris. “They’re hopefully going to go on all the merchandise, shirts and brewing devices.”
Morris moves around the spacious shop easily, explaining how he and his wife, who is a designer, picked out the furniture.
“We wanted to have a lot of options so that people could be comfortable,” he says. “Coffee is an indulgence. We don’t need it to survive.”
It seems like this could be Green Engine’s slogan, painted on the wall in sloping cursive. The space is decorated with antiques and features that makes Morris happy, such as the green wall composed of six kinds of ferns or the hand-crafted emerald green La Marzocco espresso engine, which will power the latte line-up and pull the espresso shots.
The sturdy wooden tables are perfect for spreading out work. A big comfortable couch and fireplace make this a dream location for anything, from curling up with a book to a coffee date. The long table down the middle is the ideal location for working on a group project for class, and the bar-style seatings facing the bay windows allow patrons to soak up the sunlight while sipping their afternoon pick-me-ups.
Morris, who majored in anthropology and minored in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, displays his science background when he talks and thinks about Green Engine and the products it will be sporting. For example, Morris can tell you where in Brazil his Obata honey coffee comes from and how, chemically, the farmer’s choice of honey processing imparted flavor into it.
“There are three kinds of honey processing; red, yellow and black. What really varies is how long [each of these] dries for, which really changes the microbes on them,” he explains. “All kinds of yeast and bacteria come in and process the sugars.”
Indeed, once talking about coffee, Morris is happy to explain it all. He is constantly tinkering with recipes, changing everything from what brewing temperature he uses for his water to the grind size of his beans. He is not a perfectionist, but rather an explorer looking for new and interesting flavors.
“The coffee is all fair trade and organic, but you’re not going to see that on the label,” Morris says. “[Green Engine] is not a gimmick; we aren’t trying to use [that labeling] to sell our product. It should just be something we do.”
What matters to Morris is that the Green Engine atmosphere is not one of coffee snobbery: he is here to make things approachable.
“People can be so timid to say what they taste and shirk around saying what they really think,” he states excitedly between sips of the Obata. “A lot of people might describe this as a smoky flavor, but I would say it tastes like a smoked protein.”
“Our menu is small and simple, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have what you want,” Morris adds. “Taste is subjective and I’m here to provide people what they enjoy.”
Green Engine Coffee Co. will be open for enjoyment this Wednesday, November 4th with hours from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on week days and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. It will be serving pastries, paninis, sandwiches and bagels alongside its Rival Bros. Coffee and Premium Steep Tea. If you’re feeling indulgent, the affogato, or espresso over gelato, is definitely worth checking out.
All Photos by Ryan Gooding ’16.