Undercurrent Coffee is a space formed through intentionality: There is careful curation behind each cup of coffee, menu item, and aesthetic choice. A result of collaboration between founder and owner Todd Huber and operations director Diana Mnatsakanyan-Sapp, Undercurrent Coffee has four core values: community, inclusivity, education, and sustainability. Todd says the whole thing has felt natural, because he’s always loved the culture behind coffee shops.
“I love talking to people, I love reading, I love engaging with the community,” he explains.
After ending a fifteen year banking career, Todd realized he wanted to use his life to pursue a greater passion. Amidst the uncertainty of opening a new business, Todd decided the risk was worth it.
“I knew that this is an experience I wanted to have, and it’s something I wanted to give back to the community,” Todd noted.
About six months after the project began, Todd was stumbled upon his coffee expert. He ran into Diana at a latte art competition. She’d just won second place. In an effort to find a less crowded path around the venue, they’d both chosen to squeeze through a fence obstructing their way. The metaphor writes itself. After a few conversations, Todd realized that her passion for coffee matched his own, and the two decided to forge Undercurrent Coffee together.
Diana, a barista for seven years now, had been originally unsatisfied with the simplicity of her past trainings. As she began to learn more about coffee culture, she became fascinated by the level of craft and science behind coffee that she initially hadn’t experienced.
“There was this entire world, this industry dedicated to this beverage that can be as complex as wine, and interesting and dynamic as mixology,” she recalls, “but we weren’t really tapping into that.
Todd saw Diana’s skills in artistry as an opportunity to not only create high quality beverages, but also as a way to create a system of educational opportunities through Undercurrent.
“Our focus on education is a big part of our culture and is something that makes us different,” he says, “both locally and regionally.”
Certified through the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), Mnatsakanyan-Sapp will lead certification programs in both barista and brewing tracks for local coffee shop owners. Additionally, there will be courses for general consumers, covering topics like Brewing 101, French Press Basics, and Brewing Sciences.
“The decisions that all of these people are making to come here and support specialty coffee directly impacts the roasters, the producers, and sends a wave throughout all of coffee,” Diana explains. “The more consumers are informed about why specialty coffee is unique and desirable, the more they’re going to use their money to support more ethical, more sustainable practices.”
Alongside the artistry behind the beverages themselves, Todd and Diana are concerned with the sustainability and ethics behind their products.
“We were very intentional about every partnership that we made across the board,” Diana emphasizes, “from everything to our coffee, to our chocolate, to our milk, to our chai,” Diana emphasizes.
Undercurrent is interested shaping the community for the better, but they are also fully aware that it is only through the surrounding community itself that the cafe is even possible.
“So many people had to come together to make this shop happen,” Diana says. “It’s just crazy to see all of the human beings that have come through here to this place that was just an idea inside of our brains for two years.”
Numerous people made the creation of Undercurrent possible: dozens of contractors and creatives, farmers and producers, roasters and members of the local coffee community, countless friends and family.
“They’re doing the labor behind the scenes that no one is seeing. That’s the important thing to know: it’s not just like some ‘coffee rockstar,’ or some people who have created this cafe, but it’s literally been supported by dozens of friends and family and a coffee community who have actually kept us standing when we couldn’t do it anymore.”
In the future, it’s this symbiotic relationship with community and attention to detail that Undercurrent intends to foster: a dedication to being a part of something—a neighborhood of people who are interested in learning, growing, and working together for something bigger, better.