Vertex Coffee Roasters is a new coffee shop on South University that seeks to provide high quality coffee to Ann Arbor by honoring coffee throughout its entire process. The DDA had the pleasure of sitting down with owners Matt Bjurman and Kara Huckabone to learn more about their business and its role in the Ann Arbor community.
What is the origin story of Vertex?
Kara: Matt owns Milan Coffeeworks, and I started working for him as the Director of Coffee and Education. We had the opportunity to do a popup at Blom Meadworks, which was just great to be a part of. Then the opportunity came to open up a new shop on South U, which was a little bit of a surprise. We jumped on the offer and created Vertex, which is a separate company from Milan Coffeeworks– they’re like sister companies. Matt owns and roasts for Milan and he roasts for Vertex, and I’m the owner/operator of Vertex. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for many years, so it was an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up
Matt: Yeah, we weren’t searching for another coffee shop. It made sense to do it together since we had already been working on projects together and popups like Blom.
Tell me about this business in general.
Kara: We focus on high quality coffee and honoring coffee through its entire process. We’re working towards being a zero waste establishment, meaning that we are more intentional about how much waste we’re creating or not creating. We have things like linen napkins and linen towels in the bathroom, we compost all our coffee grounds, and we’re working towards no single-use cups.
Matt: We try to be intentional and thoughtful.
Do you think that businesses will be more eco-friendly in the future?
Kara: We hope so. There’s some extra work that needs to be put in, there’s a few more dishes to wash, some straws to wash. But there’s less trash to take out! We take the trash out once or twice a week. You have to think about things a little bit differently, which can be hard if you’re owning a business, because there’s a lot of things to think about
Do you think Ann Arbor is a place that makes it easier to have a sustainable business?
Kara: I think so. Ann Arbor has recycling and they have residential compost.
Matt: But it doesn’t necessarily have to be easier cause we’re in Ann Arbor. I think the things that we do can happen in and outside of Ann Arbor.
What about Ann Arbor do you think makes it a good place to own a small business?
Matt: One thing is its population density.
Kara: Along those lines, the people in the community. Our business is trying to be a part of the community and so we have some events, like the Sustainability Series, poetry night, concerts, just meetings for people. The people are really great and I really enjoy coming to work every day and getting to see the people that come in the shop.
Matt: It’s great to have all the backgrounds and different viewpoints in town.
Kara: A few people when we opened reached out to us on South U and welcomed us here. That was really nice. Having those connections throughout the city is really nice.
Do you guys have a favorite story of having this business so far?
Kara: I like to think fondly back on the day of our grand opening. It was a Saturday in July, and we had some musicians playing on the patio. The place was full and lively, and people were meeting one another.
Matt: It was the fruits of our labor showing through.
What is something you want the people of Ann Arbor to know about vertex?
Kara: This sounds cheesy, but we really care about the coffee, zero waste, holding events, we care about the community, and we care about our team here. We‘ve been so lucky, and we have wonderful people that are a part of the Vertex team.
Matt: We’re not scheming or trying to squeeze out a dollar. We’ve got some goals and a message.