Alchemy Coffee Bar debuts at Imagine Nation Brewing

Fernanda Krum and husband Robert Rivers have opened Alchemy Coffee Shop inside their Imagine National Brewing on West Broadway. (Renata Birkenbuel/Missoula Current)

Expanding upon its community goals and ambiance, Imagine Nation Brewing has upped its game to include a specialty morning coffee shop and Saturday morning breakfasts. 

Alchemy Coffee Bar, owned by Fernanda Krum and husband Robert Rivers, is incorporated into one corner of the brewery, giving patrons more options during the day. It also makes Imagine Nation the first brewery in Missoula to offer the unique combo service.

Krum said drawing more customers is the main goal.

To really maximize the use of the space,” she said. “We can’t be open after 8 o’clock at night, because of Montana law. Why not open in the mornings and still offer a very good product, which for us is important?”

Now, instead of waiting until noon for the brewery to open its tap room, the coffee bar opens at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday.

And have this space available for the organizations to use and for any customer to come and have the coffee, enjoy the space,” she said. “I really think the morning meetings is something we want to incentivize for the businesses and nonprofits to come and use that space that’s already maximized in the evenings.”

Black Coffee Roasters and Lake Missoula Teas have teamed up with the brewery to share their local products with Alchemy Coffee Shop.

Krum and Rivers, who met in Romania in 2007 while working for the Nonviolence Peace Force, embrace what she described as a “culture of sharing.”

We provide a different experience with coffee and table service,” said Krum. “If your group comes, you can order a big Chemex, which serves five people.”

It’s all in the presentation, as Chemex is an elegant pour-over glass coffee maker.

It’s not your typical café,” said barista Krystie Winters. “There’s no espresso machine. We do a style of coffee that helps a lot more people try it black. So pour-overs and French presses are kind of our forte.”

On the counter is a dedicated hot plate for hot cream – a Brazilian technique that warms up the Chemex pour-over, which boasts its own advantages.

The way the water hits the coffee, especially, it pulls more caffeine, so you have a stronger cup of coffee,” Winters said. “So you have to drink less to get that coffee buzz – and it also pulls out the bad – the tannins and bad acids out of the coffee so you don’t get the heartburn.”

It’s all in the filter and grind – fine arts in themselves.

The way our coffee is ground is more sliced, so it slides over that smooth surface,” added Winters before touring Black Coffee Roasters later in the day.

They’ll also offer Yerba Mate, a Brazilian tea shared from a gourd by all parties at a table. A native southern Brazilian who became a United States citizen last April, Krum plans to return to Missoula with several tree gourds cut into a shell next time she visits.

I grew up drinking that,” she said. “It’s very much a sharing drink. We have a gourd and a string that you drink out of. You drink one, serve more hot water, then you pass it to the other person.”  

On top of morning brew as a lead-in to afternoon and even beers, Imagine Nation now serves brunch every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The River City Eats food truck and Mount Gumbo cajun also take table orders from patrons.

We’ve been working on the project for about three months,” said Krum, adding that Black Coffee Roasters reintroduced the pour-over method.

Imagine Nation has hosted 3,400 community events since it opened in 2015. A popular back meeting room fills up fast and regular, free Tap Room Dialogues draw crowds.

In five years, we have supported over 500 local organizations and given 25 percent of our net profit back to the local community,” said Krum.

Contract Business Reporter Renata Birkenbuel at 406-565-0013 and renatab@missoulacurrent.com.