In the time it takes the barista at Starbucks to frappé your frappiatto you could be drinking a coffee drink made for adults. It’s called “coffee.” Made with ground beans and hot water, served black in a ceramic mug by a man with a prodigious beard, the stuff you get from MmmHmm Coffee is fundamentally more real than any beverage for which sprinkles are an option.
MmmHmm owners Jon French and Jack Ellis (he of the beard) are searching for a brick-and-mortar locale for their brewed-to-order pour-over coffee, at which time they’ll expand to espresso and coffee cocktails. For now they run a weekends-only pop-up inside the Hilliard’s brewery in Ballard, which suits their meticulous style of preparation. Any pop-up is inherently novel, inspiring curiosity and conversation.
“We know it’s pretentious,” French says on a recent, sunny Saturday morning. We’re seated at a giant, rough-hewn wood table occupying the patio outside the brewery’s roll-up door. “But because we’re a pop-up we can break the rules. That’s why we called it MmmHmm.”
Ellis steeps my grounds in a ceramic pour-over dripper fitted with a paper filter, using hot water kept at a constant temp just below boiling. French goes deep on coffee science, enumerating details of solubility and extraction, discerning between the flavors inherent in a specific bean source and the flavors brought out by custom roasting and brewing styles. Today they’re serving one varietal from Ethiopia and another from Guatemala, both roasted by Counter Culture in Durham, N.C. The Ethiopian I try tastes wildly nuanced and satiny.
“We try to be mindful of style but we wanna show what the coffee is, because people work hard to make it what it is,” French says.
Meanwhile, Hilliard’s is pouring beers inside (French claims they pair well with coffee) and Biscuit Box is serving delicious brunch biscuits outside. Come nighttime, MmmHmm pops-up inside Anchored Ship on Ballard Ave. serving coffee cocktails made with a featured spirit. All summer it’s been American vermouths. Coming in fall is bourbon.
Yes, it’s a coffee pop-up inside a coffee shop. Pop on in.
MmmHmm Coffee at Anchored Ship
5306 Ballard Ave. NW
MmmHmm Coffee at Hilliard’s Brewery
1550 NW 49th St.
Photo by Casey Reid