Perq Coffee Bar, A Caffeine Mecca
For many Sarasotans, the fact that Perq Coffee Bar is only celebrating its second birthday comes somewhat as a shock.
Surely, there are those who have yet to frequent this Hillview hotspot, as well as those who view the establishment as more of a treat than a daily retreat. However, for the rest of town, Perq has become a mecca with a cult-like following of caffeine lovers eager to ingest the assortment of beverages and bold brews they pass across the countertop.
That countertop, by the way, was handcrafted from wood by none other than the owners themselves. In fact, the entire place, with its many wooden details, metal finishes, and concrete flooring, was built with the blood, sweat, and tears of the team.
Yeah, a lot of heart went into creating Perq, but Keith and Erin Zolner didn’t mind a bit, because if specialty coffee has taught them anything it’s that a lot, a LOT, of hard work goes into creating the perfect cup.
“Our coffees aren’t cheap,” says Erin of the menu that boasts bold roasts and showcases new-to-most-of-us terms like flat white, Chemex, nel, Gibraltar and Kyoto cold brew. “But, I think it could be even more expensive when you add up how much effort goes into this agricultural product. We are at the very end of the process. We are the last stop for this little cherry that grows on a tree on the other side of the world.”
She goes on to explain the arduous process it takes to select mindful growers and farmers who are as passionate about the process as she is, farmers who are careful to ensure they are working sustainably and organically and are focused on quality, not commodity.
Perq has indeed cornered coffee, but the space offers much more. Dirty chai, turmeric tea, and matcha adorn the menu, as do craft brews, small bites, juices, and even hot chocolate. They also sell brewing items, like filters and AeroPresses, as well as T-shirts and bags of beans to brew at home. Soon they will be creating more area to offer a wider array of lifestyle items—think periodicals, jams, and other coffee-culture goods, as well as collaborating with local bakers and food makers to bring a taste of Sarasota into the shop.
A central location is a must, but Perq is expanding its reach within the community. Be on the lookout as Perq takes to the streets with an “Out and About Coffee” mobile unit, which the Zolners plan to park at parties, events, and markets.
“Thinking back, it was definitely a risk to fully invest in opening a specialty coffee bar in a town where people may not understand the importance of directly sourced coffee,” says Erin of Perq’s first days. “But, as luck would have it, people embraced it.”
Embraced it they did. By the gallon.