The atmosphere at Green Street Roasting Company’s new spot (1919 Alter St., 610-637-9237, greenstreetcoffee.com) is one of buzzy, fine-tuned energy. Chris Molieri, half of the sibling duo behind the company, hovers around the cherry-red roaster that anchors the space. Tumbling inside is a batch of El Salvadorian Finca Santa Elena. The propane flames in the roaster’s chrome belly work steadily, and the coffee beans, pea green just moments before, darken. A flip of a lever causes a torrent of fragrant, steaming beans to spill out. Leaning over and inhaling the pungent sweetness, Chris reaches in and snatches out a dozen underdone beans.
Just a few feet away, his brother Tom wields a circular saw, building the bar that will serve as the cupping area. The bar’s surface is crowded with a three-port espresso machine, a Chemex, air pots and piles of coffee-related literature. In this little sliver of industrial space, the intuition of artistry, the geekiness of science and a gutsy DIY spirit collide. The brothers are constantly tweaking the process, trying, touching, tasting, getting tweaked on a steady stream of caffeine. And no shocker here: These dudes are getting stuff done.
The Molieri brothers are affable Philly boys in their late 20s, as comfortable in business meetings as they are cozied up to the bar with a cold one. They bust balls and crack jokes, but their mutual affection and bond is evident. After a stint in Portland, Ore., Chris convinced Tom, fresh out of AmeriCorps, that Philadelphia was lacking a niche coffee-roasting operation. “We might not be as weird a city as Portland or San Francisco,” Chris muses, “but there’s no reason we can’t be just as serious about coffee.”
Green Street has experienced rapid growth over its first year, and a recent move from their former HQ at Broad and Girard will afford them yet more room to expand. They count among their customers a number of cafes and restaurants (Farmacia, Flying Saucer, Rocket Cat, Miss Rachel’s Pantry) and retail locations (Mariposa and Weaver’s Way co-ops, Whole Foods). “Responsibility” is a word that comes up again and again. The brothers talk extensively about how important it is to them to be involved with the local community and to source their beans in a way that lends integrity to everyone along the supply chain. Over cups of the just-roasted Finca, they wax romantic, touting the noticeable difference in the flavor of coffee grown by people who are happy and proud of their labor. It took passion to bring this coffee from a farm in Central American to Philadelphia, and you can taste it.