Sometimes, quality should be put ahead of speed.
Sometimes, fairness is just as important as profit.
Those two mantras are key to the owners and managers of Fairfax City's newest coffee shop, 29th Parallel Coffee & Tea - and they hope their customers will agree.
29th Parallel filled a void in Fairfax City three weeks ago when the shop first opened, to the delight of many who live and work nearby - and they hope that the news of their unique local business will soon be filling their tables and chairs with coffee-loving customers.
Located in the Boulevard Marketplace at 10160 Fairfax Blvd. (Route 29), next door to Smash Burger and Donato's Pizzeria, 29th Parallel picked a location that many say was in sore need of a coffee shop for a long time, said manager Amir Khalil.
"There’s a big community right behind here, and they have really welcomed us," he said. "They said they have been wanting a coffee shop here for a long time."
The shop’s first customers are already sharing praises – in fact, Khalil said he was surprised to discover last week that they are already getting reviews on Yelp, after a happy customer created a page for them without their knowledge.
"For those of you, like me, who were wondering why there was a four-mile stretch on Route 29 devoid of coffee shops, your prayers have been answered. Here comes 29th Parallel Coffee and Tea, your savior!” said reviewer Marissa D. "The owner is super-friendly, the drinks are good, and the prices are great," she said, adding that she appreciates the free Wi-fi and plentiful outlets for laptops.
Said another reviewer, Jim C., "I don't rave about anyone unless my mind has been blown. These lovely people are the ambassadors of slow-brewed, single-origin coffee in Fairfax. Their passion and knowledge are evident in everything they do. They are artists.”
29th Parallel is not Starbucks – their niche is direct-trade, organic coffees that their roaster, PT's Coffee Roasting, buys direct from farmers all over the world, and sends straight to the shop.
In fact, each bag of coffee beans has the name of the individual farmer that grew the beans written directly on the front of the package.
In addition to their own house blend, each month, Khalil said 29th Parallel plans to bring in three to five different coffees from around the world.
When they opened, for example, they debuted beans direct from Ethiopia – but they were so good, they have already sold out.
Khalil said, to the staff at 29th Parallel, a great cup of coffee is not unlike a great glass of wine. When you take a sip, you can taste where it came from, and the different nuances that make it different than any other cup.
When business is slower – usually after the morning rush, about 10 a.m., he said – Khalil and the other staff like to really take their time and grind the beans fresh and brew each cup of coffee they serve, one at a time. To Khalil, the perfect cup of coffee has a science to it.
For example, he said, when brewing a cup of coffee, the perfect temperature is between 188 and 205 degrees. Any cooler than 188 and it’s too sour, he said; any hotter than 205 and you burn off all the good flavor, and it can become bitter.
For that reason, Khalil said, the shop does not use automated coffee machines, and they personally set each machine to exactly 205 degrees.
In addition to great coffee and tea, 29th Parallel carries organic, direct-trade chocolates, and healthy oatmeal and cookies. In the coming weeks, they will start carrying pastries as well.
Khalil said, once the shop’s big sign is installed above the door in the next week, and they receive delivery of more tables and chairs, they hope to have an official grand opening.
However, in the meantime, they are eager to serve, and Khalil said they are loving their new shop.
"This store – I couldn’t have asked for anything better," Khalil said.
Have you tried 29th Parallel Coffee & Tea yet? Tell us what you thought in the comments.
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