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What is Brash? Brash Coffee is the brainchild of owner Matt Ludwikowski – an energetic and personable 30-something who believes that “everyone should be able to enjoy a really good cup of coffee.”
By Karen Wilson
Photos by Med Dement
The concept behind Brash centers around fair trade, a business practice (growing in popularity) where products are sourced directly from developing communities and fair wages paid directly to those who grow or make them.
Brash is located in Warehouse Row at 1110 Market Street in a comfortable, airy, contemporary space that Matt helped design. Patrons can enter through the shop’s front on Market Street or through its alternate entrance inside Warehouse Row.
What it’s like:
The space invites customers to come in, cozy up to the communal table, and watch their coffee being brewed. Customers can prop their elbows on the table to watch the process or find a table to accomplish some reading or work alone.
“I wanted to make a space where people could feel comfortable working in isolation or being with people,” says Matt. “Our emphasis is on quality brews and genuine interaction with other people who love coffee.”
The coffee menu includes drip and espresso along with macchiato, cappuccino, latte, and iced coffee – all hand-brewed. Matt explains that the selection of drip and espresso coffees actually rotates according his travels. Right now, he’s working with farmers in El Salvador, Ecuador, Panama, and Honduras with plans to move into Peru.
In addition to coffee, Brash offers locally sourced vegan snack options and gluten free donuts. And, of course, you can purchase your favorite blend to take home.
How it started:
A true Renaissance man, Matt describes his college background as “a bit checkered.” He studied music composition, philosophy, theology, and the culinary arts, then dropped out to pursue a music career with a rock ‘n’ roll band.
Meanwhile, he developed an interest in coffee reaching well beyond your average coffee aficionado’s. He set out to understand every single facet of the coffee business—from the science behind growing beans to the roasting process to the best brewing practices.
After a stint as a barista in Atlanta, he and a friend took a trip to El Salvador in 2011 to see beans harvested first-hand. “We began traveling to small villages asking to meet coffee farmers. Luckily my friend knew more Spanish than I did!” he remembers, laughing.
Eventually they reached a small village called Laguneta, located high up on a volcano. There Matt found a coffee farm that would lead to his current business creation. In 2012, he took $1,200 back to the village and built a coffee mill that produced 2,600 pounds of beans.
Traveling next to Ecuador, he met a coffee farmer whose beans led him to make an award-winning coffee for the Southeast Brewers Cup and allowed him to place 6th in the National Brewers Cup competition. Then in 2012 he opened Brash Coffee in Atlanta selling beans only.
The Move to Chattanooga:
In 2013, Matt decided that his next step would be to open his own retail coffeehouse. When the owners of Warehouse Row offered him a space, he took them up on it even though he had never actually visited the city, just passed by on his way to Nashville during his music years.
Brash opened in Chattanooga on Memorial Day of this year. Since then he has worked tirelessly to make it a memorable place for those who visit.