Food & Drink

Need a great place to start your day? Charlotte's newest coffee palace is ready for you

A few selections from Undercurrent's menu, clockwise from upper left: A grits bowl with heirloom corn ground by Anson Mills, topped with local eggs; the Farmer's Tan Salad with Sea Island red peas and Carolina Gold rice grits, Avocado Toast with dukkah and micro amaranth; and Golden Milk Yogurt with turmeric coconut cream, buckwheat and strawberries. At the bottom is Mnatsakanyan-Sapp's "1 & 1" coffee tasting, a small pull of Peruvian espresso presented next to a cappucino, so you can taste the affect of the milk on the coffee.
A few selections from Undercurrent's menu, clockwise from upper left: A grits bowl with heirloom corn ground by Anson Mills, topped with local eggs; the Farmer's Tan Salad with Sea Island red peas and Carolina Gold rice grits, Avocado Toast with dukkah and micro amaranth; and Golden Milk Yogurt with turmeric coconut cream, buckwheat and strawberries. At the bottom is Mnatsakanyan-Sapp's "1 & 1" coffee tasting, a small pull of Peruvian espresso presented next to a cappucino, so you can taste the affect of the milk on the coffee.

Yes, it's a coffee house, but the food will wake you up, too, when Charlotte's newest food space opens Thursday.

Owner Todd Huber plans for Undercurrent Coffee, 2012 Commonwealth Ave., to be both a coffee house, small restaurant and "coffee education lab," with involvement from the likes of Diana Mnatsakanyan-Sapp as director of operations. Huber, Mnatsakanyan-Sapp and culinary consultant Courtney Blake were all on hand Tuesday for a preview. (Chef Dwayne Howard will actually be the person running the kitchen once they're fully open.)

Undercurrent machine
Local coffee expert Diana Mnatsakanyan-Sapp puts the new espresso maker through its paces at Undercurrent's preview. Kathleen Purvis

Here's an example of the coffee education: On Tuesday, Mnatsakanyan-Sapp was serving "1 + 1," a small pure of espresso (this one Peruvian) and serving it side by side with a latte, so you could taste it with and without milk to experience how milk changes the coffee.

Read Next

Since the menu is focused on vegetarian and vegan (there's one meat dish, the Bacon Bomblette, an breakfast sandwich for $4), there's also an emphasis on non-dairy milks, such as turmeric and coconut cream Golden Milk, which turns up in drinks and on the menu as a yogurt bowl topped with buckwheat, pecans and strawberries ($6).

IMG_1276.JPG
Diana Mnatsakanyan-Sapp, director of operations for Undercurrent, explains the experience of the "1 + 1," a small espresso and latte, so you can see how milk changes the taste of the coffee. Kathleen Purvis

The coffee comes from Onyx Coffee Lab in Arkansas, which works directly with coffee farmers in South and Central America. Since a warming climate is driving coffee farming to higher elevations, one of the Onyx projects involves helping farmers switch to growing cocoa beans at lower elevations. You'll find two kinds of chocolate bars at Undercurrent that are a part of that project.

Undercurrent cortado
How about a lovely cortado to start your Thursday? Kathleen Purvis

On the menu, expect a short list of breakfast offerings, from $4 to $6.50, three toasts (avocado, peanut butter and banana, and chevre with strawberry) for $7, and two salad bowls, The Farmer's Tan (Anson Mills Sea Island red peas and Carolina Gold rice grits, navy bean and lemon hummus, kale, avocado and pickled onions), for $14, and Benne's Bowl (warm roasted broccolini, carrots, crimini mushrooms, wheat berries, mizuna, miso-benne vinagrette, peanuts and cilantro) for $13.50.

Blake says the menu is designed to be low in meat and high in locally sourced ingredients while still being filling.

"People can come a few times before they even realize its vegetarian."

For the education part, expect public coffee cuppings, brewing workshops and barista-certification courses.

Undercurrent opens officially at 7 a.m. Thursday. Hours after that: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Fridays, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. You'll find it across from the original Common Market.

Kathleen Purvis; 704-358-5236.
  Comments