Open to the Publik
In Dutch, the word publik means “community.” It’s fitting, then, that Matt Bourgeois and Missy Greis’s hip java joint, Publik (638 Park Ave, 435.200.8693, publikcoffee.com), fosters just that. Tucked inside the Kimball Art Center adjacent to the Garage Gallery, this popular gathering place’s modern design and of-the-moment menu attract a diverse crowd, from coffee connoisseurs and foodies to skiers and soccer moms.
Publik is riding the Third Wave of Coffee, a movement focused on the craft, quality, and responsible sourcing and roasting. Publik coffee beans come from a rotating roster of countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Panama, Sulawesi, and Papua New Guinea. “We like them all, but Ethiopian beans are probably our personal favorite,” Matt divulges. “We roast everything lighter so we don’t roast out the characteristics of the bean.”
All of the coffee served at Publik is roasted on a 12-kilo Diedrich IR roaster located in the coffeehouse’s Salt Lake City headquarters (975 SW Temple), a minimalistic warehouse–inspired space housing—in addition to the roasting operations—Publik’s flagship café and a large special-event space. The Diedrich uses infrared roasting technology, a cleaner method than traditional blue-flame burners. Combine that with Publik’s afterburner—the only one in SLC—and Greis says 96 percent of particulates generated in roasting are filtered out, minimizing Publik’s contribution to the valley’s often poor air quality.
Once roasted, Publik coffee is brewed on a top-of-the-line Rancilio espresso machine and via the all-the-rage pour-over method. It may take a little longer and cost a little more, but Bourgeois says pour-over produces a better cup of joe because you’re able to choose your beans, and they’re ground and brewed to order right in front of you. “People like the show of it, and we’re able to get very precise with recipes or water-to-coffee ratios, speed of the pour, and how long the water comes in contact with the beans,” he explains. All the flavored syrups—including vanilla bean, brown sugar, and a heavenly browned-butter version—are handcrafted in-house with organic cane sugar. And Publik’s baristas have a knack for latte art: leaves, lightning bolts, and the letter “p” are just a few of their almost-too-pretty-to-sip creations.
But coffee isn’t all that’s on the menu at Publik: to eat, there’s toast. We’re not talking crisped Wonder Bread with Smuckers. Bourgeois and Greis were among the first to serve up the artisan toast trend locally. Before you roll your eyes and think “hey, precious,” give this nouveau riff on simple comfort food a try. Varieties include avocado with sea salt and cracked pepper, old-school-with-a-twist peanut butter and banana, or—one of their most popular—strawberry-rhubarb jam with cream cheese. At Publik, it’s done with thick slices from loaves of Park City’s Red Bicycle Bread Co. and seasonal jams from Salt Lake’s Amour Spreads. “Both companies are small and growing—we can all help each other,” says Bourgeois.
And in case you’re worried about Publik’s fate with the recent sale of the building housing both the café and the Kimball Art Center, have no fear. Both Publik and the art center are slated to remain on the premises at least through the spring. We’ll toast to that.