If the question is, “Coffee?” then the latest answer in Decatur, Georgia, is “Opo!”
Taking its name from the Filipino word that translates to a formal, respectful “yes,” Opo Coffee has just opened the doors to a 3,165-square-foot space containing a coffee bar, a roastery and facilities for coffee training and consulting.
“There won’t be any other overt connections with Filipino culture, but the impact of the word ‘Opo’ can’t be understated,” Opo Coffee CEO Jonathan Pascual told DCN. “Our company values — respect, positivity, and honor — come from that single word and are carried through to every aspect of our company, from producer relationships to customer experience to our commitment to living wages and employee life balance.”
Behind the Opo retail bar, baristas shuttle coffees from Mahlkönig grinders to Puqpress tampers, then to a 3-group La Marzocco Linea PB AV espresso machine. A Fetco batch brewer keeps the to-go joe flowing. Curtis Seraphim twin brewers automate pourover procedures and a Marco Friaa HCS font allows for a variety of drinks at the counter.
Customers who sip to the very last drop will find Opo’s logo at the bottom of the cafe’s custom ceramics. The logo is echoed by the slim geometric paneling on the front of the coffee bar.
Modern furnishings that contrast with the earthiness of exposed brick walls and overflowing shelves of greenery were selected by Opo’s creative director, Trey Boden, in collaboration with interior designers Rook And Dash.
“We want our branding to be a visual representation of our value of positivity,” Boden told DCN. “We set out to create a lively store environment that fits with the vibe of the local community and shows off our bright palette. That palette was a result of a color study of 27 coffee companies in the metro-Atlanta area, with the goal to bring a unique contribution to the thriving coffee industry in our city.”
A neon coffee branch logo beams from the back wall of the shop and is further reflected in Opo’s merchandise. It also draws attention to the coffee company’s primary product, made possible through a Probat UG15 Retro that is visible to cafe guests.
“Our approach with sourcing is to create long-term relationships with providers that are more than just transactional annual exchanges for goods,” Opo Director of Operations Chris Avirett told Daily Coffee News. “We strive to foster relationships that continually build on mutual dependability, from seed to sip.”
Opo Coffee launched in November 2021 through toll-roasting partnerships with Atlanta-based companies Peach Coffee Roasters, Radio Roasters, and Thrive Farmers. Coffees were roasting for brewing at Taproom Coffee & Beer, the business Pasqual opened in Atlanta in 2014.
For years prior to Taproom, Pascual helped several specialty coffee companies open and operate cafes. His very first coffee job in 2006 was as a barista at a Decatur location of Starbucks just a few blocks away from where Opo opened this month.
As the cafe and roastery find their footing in the coming months, Opo plans to gradually expand its wholesale roasting operation, establish its e-commerce program and start development of a full slate of SCA Certified professional coffee educational offerings.
“There’s a lot we have to learn and work through as a young coffee company,” said Pascual. “Even though our core team has decades of industry experience between us, we know it’ll take a while to settle into our little corner of the coffee world and find our unique voice.”
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Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.