By Jessie Walker
We would like to extend a big welcome to Manayunk’s newest business and coffee shop - Pilgrim Roasters! Stop by the shop inside Salon L for a delicious cup of coffee, sourced clean from all over the world. We sat down with co-owner, Dan, to find out more about why they aren’t your typical coffee shop and how they are excited to get involved in the community.
Let's start from the beginning. What made you want to start a coffee shop?
Dan explained how his passion began when he worked on a coffee farm back in 2007: “I had never seen the process before, but coffee grows in a cherry. It’s not actually a bean, they’re like seeds. It was very fascinating to me that the coffee wasn’t bitter.” This fascination for the entire coffee roasting process led him to Manayunk, where he began Pilgrim Roasters along with his business partner, Ryan.
Why did you choose Manayunk for the location of your new shop?
“It seemed like there were no coffee roasters in the area, but it’s also cool because my grandfather grew up on this street. The furniture store named Nadeau across the street was actually where my great grandfather’s old tailor shop was.”
It was also perfect timing for Dan and Ryan because the owner of Salon L, Michael O’Connor, really wanted to have a coffee shop attached to their salon.
How is Pilgrim Roasters different from a typical coffee shop?
It is clear that Pilgrim Roasters coffee is sourced cleanly from farms in good condition. They work with dedicated importers who go to the farms and live among the farmers. According to Dan, “They are people who have been doing this for a very long time. They take care of the farmers and see if they need anything, like clean water, and they are really trying to source the best possible coffee.”
Where exactly is your coffee sourced from?
One thing is for sure - at Pilgrim Roasters, you can have the opportunity to drink coffee from different locations all across the world. It even tells you the region right on the coffee bag itself.
“Right now we have a lot from Colombia. Eibar Rojas is the name of the farmer. He’s growing really excellent coffee that is super clean, a little bit fruity, and really balanced.” They also source their coffee from Ethiopia, specifically a village called Layo Teraga in the Guji region, as well as a Costa Rican mill called La Cruz in Terrazu. “We’re just trying to highlight what’s special about those origins.”
Dan also explained the geographic connection in regards to how their coffee is made. “Our roast style is a Scandinavian style. In Seattle, they roast a little bit darker and pull their shots shorter. But in Norway and Denmark and a lot of countries up that way, they roast it very light to bring forward all the flavors of the origin.”
Where did the name "Pilgrim Roasters" come from?
“So many people come in day to day, and they’re just living to get by. If you think about what a pilgrim actually is, it’s someone who is seeking freedom in a sense. We want this to be a space where people can come, de-stress, and have their life not be cluttered.” With a simple menu, visitors of Pilgrim Roasters can do just that. “It’s broken down so you don’t have to make too many choices and worry about too many options. You can just come in and chill out.”
What is your favorite item on the menu?
Even with a simple menu, it is hard to choose just one! There is something for every coffee or tea lover at Pilgrim Roasters, but Dan discusses his favorites. “I’m halfway between the pour over and just the straight espresso because it’s coffee in its purest form. That’s just me personally but everything on the menu is delicious.”
If you could go and get coffee with anyone in the world, who would you choose?
After much pondering, Dan finally thought of the perfect answer. “I think I would say a roaster named Tim Wendelboe in Norway. He is actually part of the importers that we work with and he won the World Barista Championship one year. He roasts some of the best coffee in the world and has some of the best sourcing. I would definitely love to pick his brain.”
I see that you have a vintage roaster in the next room. What are the advantages of using that, or why did you choose a vintage roaster over a modern one?
The roaster is made by the company Probat, which makes the most sought-after roasters in the world. Dan explained the technical advantages of having this type of roaster: “The faceplate is solid cast iron and it’s better for heat retention because it stores a lot of energy. If you touched a hot steel frying pan vs. a cast-iron one, your fingers are going to get burnt a lot faster on the steel because of the heat transfer. Essentially, the cast-iron material is much better than the typical steel because it does not burn the beans. He adds, “So as the beans are rotating around the roaster drum, they’re less likely to sear It also stores a lot of thermal energy, which is nice.”
Not only is the vintage roaster a cool addition to the space, but it has a very interesting back story as well! Dan was not sure of the accuracy of the story, but he says that this very roaster was manufactured in Paris in the early 1950s. Dan continued, “At the time, no one wanted to do business with Germany, so apparently the people at Probat snuck out of Germany, went to Paris, and were manufacturing machines for a few years.”
It is definitely a rare unit, and it’s very cool that it ended up here in Manayunk! If you go for a cup of coffee, make sure you check out this neat machine!
Now that you are open, what are you looking forward to most for your first year of business?
Dan is very excited about connecting with the community and other local business. He said, “It’s a space to really bring people together, cultivate community, and be a part of it all. I feel like life is so busy right now for everyone in our society, and here you can just come and slow down.” The space is perfect for groups, or if you just want to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee by yourself.
Welcome to Manayunk, Dan and Ryan! We encourage everyone to stop by Pilgrim Roasters for some incredible coffee and to escape the stress and clutter in your life! They are located at 4120 Main St., connected to Salon L.
Visit the Manayunk Development Corporation Contact page for full contact information.
Office: 4312 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127