City Guide: Swift & Finch Coffee
This article was originally published at Makervillage
MAKERVILLAGE CITY GUIDE: SPACES, PLACES, PEOPLE & EVENTS – CURATED BY RESIDENT MAKER RYDER MCENTYRE
Trying to find the best cup of coffee in Northwest Georgia? Look no further. On the corner of 6th Avenue and Broad Street is Swift & Finch Coffee Company. Owner Ellie Mahon has crafted a truly one-of-a-kind experience in little downtown Rome. She embodies the Maker movement, as each step in the process of creating each cup is almost exclusively done by hand. It’s our favorite coffee nest around these parts, and not just because it’s a short 3-minute walk from Makervillage — where we work, live, and make every day. They’ve recently switched suppliers and have upped their coffee bean game to a whole other level, to boot. It’s easy to be productive there, and us Villagers cannot get enough of its atmosphere.
This doesn’t even include their seasonal drinks, which are all daring and unique flavor choices. There’s nothing like a large, iced dirty chai in the middle of summer.
Let’s get straight to it: the coffee here is ridiculously good. Coffee Roaster / Handyman / Barista / Mad Man Mark McLucas roasts green coffee beans to fill their 1-pound bags and our cups every week. Speaking of filling coffee cups, Swift & Finch offers a variety of alternative brewing methods (e.g. Chemex, drip cones, etc.) which bring the big-city appeal of larger shops like Intelligentsia or Octane to our small town.
As a side note, there’s a large degree of confusion to the everyday coffee consumer when it comes to roasting vs. brewing. Roasting is the actual “cooking” of the coffee bean. All coffee beans start out green and Swift & Finch uses their custom-built coffee roaster to roast their green coffee beans each week. Each cup of coffee or specialty beverage’s beans are roasted in store, making Swift & Finch a true coffee company, and they bag all of their beans with hand-made stamps by Atlanta artist Julia Rittenhouse. Coffee from big chains like Starbucks use coffee that is roasted weeks before it reaches you or your cup. Long story short: the beans don’t sit around for weeks like they do at chain coffee shops, and that really shines through when you get the freshest cup of coffee in town.
The entire space exudes handcrafted Instagrammability. Before it was a coffee shop, the Swift & Finch building was a photography studio and print shop owned by local photography institution Clyde Collier. The location’s history is appropriate since Ellie studied photojournalism during her time at the University of Georgia and was a local photographer herself when she first came to Rome. Ellie actually started Swift & Finch with her longtime friend Abby Mitchell, but soon after the shop opened, Abby got married and moved to Thomasville, leaving Swift & Finch entirely to Ellie. The two of them reimagined and reinterpreted the space with mostly aesthetic changes and left much of the original structural details the same. The shop includes a giant vintage American flag (with only 48 stars), a rotating gallery of local artists (currently folk artist Ken “Blacktop” Gentle), a vast collection of records (played alongside an expertly curated playlist), and a beautiful array of antique furniture.
The staff is a pleasant bunch of goofballs with a penchant for remembering names & drinks, cracking jokes, and serving up a fine cup of joe. Get to know them.
All of these aspects combine with the smell of freshly roasted and brewed coffee and espresso to create a laidback combination of handcrafted awesomeness and timeless taste without all that snobbery of big-city coffee shops. Swift & Finch has been open since April 2012, and it has since become a Rome institution, thanks to its commitment to evolving its bean selection, Swift & Finch has one of the few coffee roasters in the area, and a coffee-savvy, friendly group of people behind the bar — and they are all real characters if you get to know them! Not a fan of coffee? Swift & Finch has a large variety of chai and teas, smoothies, frappes, and glass-bottled sodas in addition to pastries, bagels, and their TOTALLY FAMOUS homemade chocolate chess pie.
Pro tip: Ask about their slow bar. It’s an extra dollar for a medium cup of coffee, but you get to watch them grind the beans, and pull you a chemex or cone filtered cup of awesome.