Worth Knowing: First Branch Coffee in South Royalton is open and well worth visiting
A gem of a coffee shop and much, much more opened in South Royalton on October 14. It's First Branch Coffee, owned and operated by Andy Puchalik, Chris Perry and Ivan Tomek.
The owners weren't thinking about coffee when Puchalik and Perry originally went starting brewing small batches of beer together as a hobby. The hobby turned into a business - Upper Pass Beer Co. - and Tomek joined the pair as a co-owner in 2015.
Upper Pass released its first beer at the Tunbridge World’s Fair in September of 2015 and is currently in the process of upgrading to a 5 barrel system at their Tunbridge-based brewery to crank out more nano batches. In addition, each month Von Trapp Brewery in Stowe, VT brews 50 bbl batches of Upper Pass's First Drop American Pale Ale and Cloud Drop Double IPA. The owners of Upper Pass thought a good next step would be to create a tasting room off-site from the farmhouse brewery. They identified a space in nearby South Royalton located in a historic building facing the village green.
Which brings us back to First Branch Coffee. The owners decided that a coffee shop would be a nice complement to the tasting room. And given Puchalik's interest in making things himself, it's only natural that roasting his own coffee followed. And so they made a significant investment in roasting equipment and espresso machinery, and they brought in a consultant to train them. While First Branch may purchase its coffee beans from places like Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Columbia, and Costa Rica, all of the beans will be roasted right here in the Upper Valley. And you'll be able to buy it from First Branch.
Food? Yes, First Branch Coffee will have that, too. You can find a variety of pastries and sweets from local businesses at First Branch in the morning (until they're gone), and First Branch has started dipping its proverbial toes into serving food with "Flatbread Friday," billed as a community dinner with their beer and food from local farms. First Branch is also experimenting with "Taco Tuesdays," and the early response has been robust. This past Tuesday First Branch offered the following $5 tacos: skirt steak with chimichurri and chipote aoili, smoked organic chicken with roasted tomatillo and pineapple, Back Beyond Farm chorizo with Cotija cheese and vegetarian tofu with white miso apple buutter with pickled daikon, radish and carrots and ginger aoili - unless decide to add local pork belly. Yum.
Upper Pass beer for sale at First Branch
And on tap
We'll keep an eye on what Puchalik, Perry and Tomek are up to because they seem to have a lot of really good ideas.
If you're in South Royalton, stop by First Branch Coffee and see for yourself. Or just make it a destination. It's open from 7 am to 6 pm on Monday through Friday and 8 am to 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
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