When Haewoon Kim’s twin brother served him his first cup of pour-over coffee twenty years ago, he immediately knew something was different about it. He’d had no previous exposure to specialty coffee, but this interaction would eventually lead him to establish Fairfax’s newest coffee shop, Foundation Coffee.
“My coffee partner, Brad, used to be an opera singer and I was an IT professional. We met about 15 years ago, and over the decade we shared our passion for coffee. It started more as a hobby or a personal interest, we were roasting in my basement, experimenting with different things here and there. Over time, we were getting more serious.”
The motif is simplicity. The storefront, which is located in the back of the Fair City mall is painted white brick with floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors, along with the business’ name and logo in plainblack text.
The menu, too, echos this theme. They offer a short list of precisely created coffees and teas, a stark contrast to the current style in coffee. Each drink is created with an eye for detail and drive for precision.
“The two most important things about our coffee are accuracy and precision. We’re really careful and precise with the drinks, the whole process because we want every drink to be very consistent.”
Perhaps most unique, though, is the layout of the store.
“I wanted this shop to be spacious so that it’s not cramped. People can be comfortably seated, so when I was thinking about the design, my concept was a theater, with the center stage being the coffee bar.
Customers can look and see how their drinks are prepared. I was thinking of an opera house or concert hall. As people are sitting and drinking coffee, they can also enjoy the way we’re making our coffee, so it brings more to the experience.”
The design, from the coffee bar to the many tables around the store, to the shelves, was created by Kim’s father.
Every part of the business is authentic and original, from the layout of the shop created by Kim’s father to the syrup they use in the coffee. Even the pastries are baked in house and designed carefully to complement the drinks.
According to Kim, the best drink on the menu is the iced cortado, “a great blend of espresso and steamed milk.” Their most popular, however, is their vanilla iced latte. They’re currently offering a seasonal pumpkin spice latte, using an original recipe with pureed pumpkin.