Sean Buckles spent 12 years as an Army engineer, so he's no stranger to work that demands consistency and precision. Third-wave coffee lovers will find that reassuring, as he's opened Building3 Coffee Roasters in the new Lincoln Center complex.
Building3 buys direct from farms in Central and South America, using California-based importers Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders. When I visit, I'm unafraid to admit I still don't get why pour-over coffee is so special. I've used a plastic single-serve coffee cone before — think the $6 grocery store equivalent of a Chemex system — but I don't understand why pour-overs are A Big Thing in coffee.
In the educational spirit of the former grade school classroom the coffee shop inhabits, my barista is kind and capable enough to explain that pour-overs are all about control. The Guatemalan blend they're using when I visit tends sweeter and citrusy, so my pour-over needs to drain more quickly to keep the fruity notes bright. The gooseneck kettle allows for a slow, consistent pour with minimal splashing. First, the barista blooms the coffee, adding hot water so carbon dioxide can escape the grounds. Then, the water gets poured in over two additions, quicker the second time so that it stirs up and better extracts from any settled grounds.
The resulting cuppa satisfies with greater complexity. Rich, chocolaty flavor leads the sip, with orange notes most prominent on the back of the palate and in the aftertaste. The mug-and-decanter presentation lends the coffee a certain sense of ceremony. Consider it a counterpoint to drive-thru or, perhaps, just a part of the slow food movement. Either way, it feels wrong not to linger and enjoy, especially in the beautiful, bright, soft-woods-filled cafe, across the hall from Building3's roasting space.
Try also a cappuccino made from a blend of washed and unwashed Salvadoran beans. The washed beans show more of the chocolatey undertones, and mixed with the sweeter unwashed beans, they make a punchy but pleasant brew. A Swiss Water-processed option — Colombian, when we stopped in — informs a fine and friendly decaf latte, graced with an angel in the latte art. Cold brew fans will no doubt be satisfied by Building3's offerings, on tap without or with nitrogen bubbles to add that lovely silky texture. Ours comes from those same Salvadoran beans, bearing a pleasant citrusy finish.
For non-coffee options Building3 doesn't slack. We try a bright honeydew-ginger kombucha on tap, sourced from locals CoS'Bucha. Mint matcha tea comes iced, with the mint playing well off of the green tea powder's astringency.
Food stands up respectably enough, too. Upcoming Lincoln Center baker David McInnis should eventually provide goods, but meanwhile, Building3 hired a part-time baker. On first visit, we find a Cuban to be the only sandwich option, and we find it wanting. Pre-made and heated to order, mine arrives cool in the center and dull overall, a basic ham-steak sandwich warranting no further commentary. Rather, try a caprese panini, bearing gooey cheese and punchy pesto.
For lighter fare, try a pillow-light scone with plentiful blueberries and clean lemon flavor. Paleo muffins bear something stringy binding the coconut flour, zucchini, apple and walnuts together — our server tells us it's just honey.
All told, Building3 quickly stands among the Springs' finest coffee spots. But considering the time in recent years that Buckles has invested in training and roasting, getting coffee this good from Building3 is elementary.