Cafe at the Salon is a new coffee spot in the Commonwealth, an apartment/commercial building on Madison across the street from the YMCA Downtown.
It operates under the campaign "Drink Humanely." The idea, according to owner Christine Bowers, is to steer customers into being better consumers. "We want people to be better to the earth and better to themselves," she says.
- Photographs by Justin Fox Burks
- Christine Bowers at Cafe at the Salon
Mersadies Burch and Ave Rell Mondi were hired as art consultants for the Commonwealth, then kept on to "activate" the building. The first order of business was to carve out a community space.
The idea of a coffee spot was a "low entry point." "We immediately thought that, naturally, people gravitate to cafes," Burch says.
Cafe at the Salon is deep within the Commonwealth's lobby. Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The space is welcoming with large, chic couches beckoning you to sink in. A big round table, perfect for board games and confabs, is toward the back, near the just-the-basics ordering counter. The cafe will move to a front bay in the building in late summer or early fall. Expect a name change for the cafe as well.
Burch and Mondi hooked up with Bowers, who they knew through working at Gray Canary. Zan Roach curates and roasts the cafe's coffee through his company Oklyn. He works under the imprateur Boycott Coffee.
Boycott is less a thing as it is an idea or a stance. Roach is concerned about the coffee trade's effect on pricing, immigration, and jobs.
"I work to create a space for people who need a boost in representation, whether that be on a social level or an economic level," Roach says.
Cafe at the Salon offers Doppios, Americanos, Aero press drips, cold brews, hot and iced teas, Cortados, Cappuccinos, Lattes, Matcha Lattes, Mushroom Mochas, and Golden Milk Mochas. They have both dairy- and plant-based milks.
The Mushroom Mocha is a chocolate-y drink with lion's mane mushroom powder. Bowers says it gives consumers a mental boost. The mushroom powder can be added to other drinks as well. The Golden Milk Latte is a spiced chai-like drink with cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and ashwaganda. It acts as an antioxident and reduces stress levels. It's good for folks with anxiety, Bower says.
They also offer a smattering of treats baked by Bowers and her mother.
"The cookies that we sell are a love child between Clif Bars and cookies," Bowers says. "They are vegan, nut-free, low glycemic, and gluten-free. They're mostly made out of plants. Instead of oil or butter, we use avocado."
The Zombie cookie is made with beets and mixed berries. It is gooey and rich but not overly sweet. They also sell chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, caramalized pineapple/ginger, and orange/cranberry sweet potato.
Right now, Bowers and co. are working on plans to further connect with the community through workshops and events like the recent cocktail pop-up they held that was based around the theme of joy.
The idea at the cafe is to be mindful from beginning to end. Is the coffee ethically sourced? Are the cups compostable? Will the cookies put a dent in your day?
"We care," Bowers says. "We want to give back as much as we can.
"If you're having a rough day, please come here and trust that we care. We care about it, and we care about you."
Cafe at the Salon, 240 Madison