Well we’ve almost made it. The close of the holiday season, the close of 2016, the end of another chapter. This is the time where many of us look back and reflect on the year or for some in 2016, we look forward, only forward… The perfect accompaniment for all of this reflection, celebration and commemoration is a deep breath and a perfectly brewed cup of hot, black coffee (ok, and prosecco…). The last gluttonous days of the season are upon us and while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the endless amounts of rich dinners, cheese plates, chocolate, red wine, family and friends (and plan to continue to enjoy them over the next couple of days mind you), I took a much needed moment for myself this week and walked down to Kru Coffee for a breath of fresh air and a good coffee.
Kru is located in the new Fresh Market complex in the same row as Gennaro’s Pizza and Smashburger on the corner of Marion Avenue and Excelsior Avenue, conveniently located less than 5 minutes from my home. However, this was my first time into the coffee shop despite wanting to stop in several other times. I love coffee and tend to drink it every morning but that is sometimes the extent for me; I don’t often go out of my way for it and I certainly don’t consider myself well versed in it (despite a brief stint as a “barista” at a former bakery gig- barista was a loose term there). This may change going forward…
Although Kru has a somewhat unassuming and simple outer façade, walk through the doors and you enter a sort of coffee mecca. The downstairs is beautifully designed with tons of natural light, striking rustic dark wooden tables and chairs from Queensbury’s Square Nail Rustics, wide open modern spaces and plenty of seating while the upstairs is slightly darker with comfortable couches and chairs, a perfect spot to do some work, catch up with a friend or have a quiet moment of solitude- the space is also available for rent and would be a cool setting for a party or meeting.
As I’ve said before, I like atmosphere and the ambiance here is both welcoming and precise- these guys know what they’re doing and you can tell. In a good way.
This location not only houses the retail and café portion of this family-owned business, but it also contains all of the roasting, brewing and bagging of the beans. The entire back portion of the shop, which can be conveniently viewed from a bar stool at the soon-to-be-bar portion of the place (these guys are pursuing a liquor license- stay tuned), is the laboratory-like setting of the coffee business, where raw coffee beans sit in their burlap sacks waiting to be roasted and turned into the perfect steampunk brew (I’ll get to this later). These aren’t just any coffee beans either. All of Kru’s beans are all organic, Rainforest Alliance certified and fair trade, selectively sourced from small farms in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Colombia and beyond.
The ultimate farm to table aspect will come in a few years time when the owners will be able to source the beans they will cultivate from their own organic coffee farm, which they recently purchased on the Big Island in Hawaii. Owners and partners Kristi, Jared, Luke and Ryan are all local, refer to themselves as “family” and they can all be found working the registers, roasting machines and behind the bar at Kru. Ryan Miller, one of the four partners, is a veteran of the coffee/café business having opened Café Vero in Lake George and Spektor Coffee Roasters in Glens Falls. Teaming up with his partners, two of whom own the Hawaii coffee farm, the group wanted to bring a new kind of full-circle coffee experience to Saratoga and to the region, a place in which high quality machinery combined with extensive barista knowledge and fine coffee are combined.
This is coffee meets science, where black coffee reigns and the flavor of the meticulously roasted beans can truly shine. It’s called third wave coffee, a movement to produce the highest-quality coffee in an artisinal, focused way similar to the approach taken in craft breweries or wineries. Speaking of wineries, the name Kru is a play on the word “cru”, a French wine term which speaks to the “terroir” of the wine or the terrain of it’s origins and is often used to classify wines of high quality. Given the similarities in which the coffee and its beans are treated as one would treat a fine wine and its grapes, the term is fitting of the intense focus Kru puts on the sourcing and roasting of its beans and the artful product that they ultimately serve.
Earlier I mentioned steampunk brewing and I haven’t forgotten to explain. While not exactly something out of a science fiction movie, the method is scientific and the glass and metal machines futuristic. The contraptions at Kru, of which there are three, are state of the art Alpha Dominche craft brewing machines, a brewer that uses the power of steam and a super fine filter to create an uber smooth, flavorful brew. These machines are beautiful to look at and to observe and set up on the counter next to test tubes of coffee beans elevates the vibe at Kru to some kind of rustic industrial coffee lab, ready to experiment and serve. While the star of the show, coffee isn’t the only thing being served here; local premium teas from The Whistling Kettle of Ballston Spa are available as well as various croissants and scones in the glass case by the register, all house made. For the coffees, Kru aims to have 4-6 single origin coffees available daily with 2 bean varieties changing monthly as well as a featured daily espresso. Today’s “offerings” were the Bender Blend espresso, the Indonesian Blue Flores and what I had, the Ethiopian Worka, a smooth, dark brew that has a mild blueberry scent from the fruitiness of the unroasted bean, served black and at a welcome, drinkable temperature.
Kru Coffee and the team behind it have endless ideas to improve the space, it’s offerings and what’s possible within the realm of the “third wave”. Experience Kru for yourself and don’t be shy, the crew here is enthusiastic and willing to make recommendations and suggestions- the goal is to share the mutual love of coffee and the preparation of it.
Kru is open early- 6am on the weekdays and 7am on the weekends and open until 6pm everyday except Sunday; they also sell bagged coffee and specialty coffee products perfect for late-holiday gifts or New Year’s Day hangover cures. Also, check them out on Facebook and Instagram and find their products at Healthy Living, Hamlet & Ghost and Adirondack Winery.
Take a break from the holiday craziness and a seat at the coffee bar- “get roasted” as they say.