The Rose Establishment

Behind the Bar

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On an island in the middle of The Rose Establishment’s bar, three shelves hold Weck jars filled with the shop’s selection of teas and tisanes. Each of the categories—black, oolong, white, green, rooibos, and herbal—have three varieties apiece. A seventh category, which café manager Cody Kirkland dubbed misfits, includes yerba mate and a blend of holly and hibiscus. If the cafés in the US were split into different categories—teahouses, coffee bars, diners, drive-throughs—it’s almost certain The Rose Establishment would end up in the misfits or, more generously, miscellaneous group.

In part that’s because it treats coffee and tea with equal sophistication. It’s also because of the focus on food, which resembles an Australian or English café more than the American pastry-case-only model. It’s because the bar shelves hold more bitters than syrups. It’s because for Thanksgiving Kirkland added pumpkin roasted with spices and brown sugar to a batch of nitrogenated cold brew. He topped a shot glass of the concoction with whipped cream and gave it to regulars. “That was a bit over the line for me,” he says. “But it was fun and tasty, so I didn’t care.”

Erica O’Brien opened The Rose Establishment in Salt Lake City in 2010. The café was an early non-Bay Area client of Four Barrel Coffee, which helped O’Brien design the bar. The Rose Establishment began as a tea-centric café and then morphed into a multipart business that includes a bakery and lunch service. That shift meant making space for a kitchen and food prep area, which altered the bar. Set in a century-old building that once housed a meatpacking business, The Rose Establishment had plenty of room to stretch.

While O’Brien has expanded the range of the business, Kirkland, who runs the bar and baristas, has expanded the range of the café’s drinks. That includes six tea lattes, including the London Fog, made of Earl Grey crème tea, lavender, vanilla syrup, and lavender bitters. Luckily the bar has plenty of space for oddball ingredients.

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1. Grinders: If the café manager at the Rose Establishment, Cody Kirkland, had a bit more space he would add a third grinder for single-origin espresso.

2. Pride of Place: The shelves of twenty teas and tisanes dominate the bar, an immediate cue to customers that tea holds its own there.

3. Little Treasures: On one side of the La Marzocco Linea is a knockbox that drops pucks straight into the garbage and on the other is a rinser. “It is the best thing I have used at a café, ever,” Kirkland says. “It sure beats running back to the sink between drinks.”

4. Milkman Recycling: Whole and two percent milk from Rosehill Dairy are delivered fresh in glass jugs that are returned to the local dairy.

5. Bitters, and More Bitters: Five types of bitters are stashed under the bar. Lavender, cardamom, grapefruit, classic aromatic bitters by Scrappy’s, and Peychaud’s cinnamon-forward bitters accent many of the Rose Establishment’s weekly drink specials.

6. Sweet Stuff: House-made vanilla syrup and chocolate sauce are joined by a diluted honey syrup, turbinado sugar, and straight honey.

7. Bar Flip: When the café began serving a full lunch menu, they had to make room for a kitchen and cooks. The brew bar was switched from the left side of the café to the right.

8. Clever Bar: Rather than having a barista dedicated to pour-overs, the Rose Establishment uses Clever brewers, which require little attention during their brew phase. AeroPresses were added to the brew bar last year.

9. Kegerator: Nitrogenated cold brew was added when Kirkland was looking for a way to speed up service of iced coffees during the summer. The second tap issues soda water, which allows the café to serve craft sodas, too.

—Cory Eldridge is Fresh Cup’s editor. Photos Courtesy The Rose Establishment.