In Good Taste

Sophomore Coffee Wants to Bring Inclusive Atmosphere to Old Goucher This Fall

Coffee professional Kris Fulton brings a decade of experience to new shop.

By Lauren Cohen | June 12, 2018, 3:06 pm

In Good Taste

Sophomore Coffee Wants to Bring Inclusive Atmosphere to Old Goucher This Fall

Coffee professional Kris Fulton brings a decade of experience to new shop.

By Lauren Cohen | June 12, 2018, 3:06 pm

Even veteran barista Kris Fulton knows that, sometimes, craft coffee shops can feel snobby.

“If there isn’t an overarching energy that promotes discovery and learning, it can be very off-putting,” he says. “But if you create an environment that is inviting, people are going to feel comfortable taking that journey with you.”

To combat the coffee culture stigma, Fulton and his partner Ann Travers Fortune are opening Sophomore Coffee—a welcoming shop inside the shared space that Clavel co-owner Lane Harlan is developing in Old Goucher. The property will also house Harlan’s outdoor beer garden concept and a neighborhood food counter and grocery store.

Though he’s racked up more than a decade of experience working for roasteries across the country, the new space will be the first that Fulton can call his own. The Anne Arundel County native got his start in the industry at Annapolis landmark City Dock Coffee and later moved to Baltimore where he became one of the founders of Charmington’s, along with Travers, in Remington in 2010.

His post at the now-closed Lamill Coffee inside the Four Seasons Baltimore spawned a new opportunity for him to work for the company in Los Angeles, and most recently, Fulton headed up education and training efforts for Brooklyn-based Toby’s Estate Coffee in New York. Ultimately, after four years abroad, the pull of Baltimore beckoned him home.

“Baltimore shaped who I am in a lot of ways,” he says. “I always knew I wanted to come back here. And when I did, it was pretty noticeable that the whole city structure had shifted a bit. Places like R. House and Clavel had opened up—there was just so much that had happened.”

Expected to join the city’s robust food scene this fall, Sophomore Coffee will feature a seasonal program with blends from Toby’s Estate—including a single-origin house drip, espresso drinks, and flash-brew options. The starting menu will be small, and perhaps most notably, it will lack terms like “cappuccino,” “latte,” or “macchiato.”

“We want to educate people in a simplified way,” Fulton says. “And we want to explain that if you’re getting a larger espresso milk beverage, you’re actually getting more milk and not as much coffee. These are all interactions I’ve had in the past that can very easily spark a pretentious vibe, especially if you’re talking to someone who is saying, ‘a macchiato is this or a cappuccino is that.’ It creates a tension that doesn’t really need to be there.”

In keeping with the inclusive feel, Fulton is using smaller, low-profile pieces of equipment behind the counter, ensuring that customers are able to communicate and ask questions about their drinks without feeling like the machines create a barrier.

“We’re going to try our best to shed light on the fact that some coffee beans might be more expensive because of the work put into creating them,” Fulton says. “But we’re also going to work with coffees that are approachable, and offer flavor profiles that aren’t so hard to wrap your head around or aren’t so different than what you expect coffee to taste like.”

The interior, designed by Travers, will also reflect the owners’ mantra with soft shades of yellow and pink, high-top bar seating with built-in power outlets, an L-shaped area for meetings and gatherings, and a mobile accent wall that also works as a sliding gate for the back entrance. Fulton says he is especially excited about the property’s shared courtyard, which will be accessible to coffee patrons during the day and transition into Harlan’s beer garden at night.

Though the space won’t debut to the public until the end of the summer, Fulton and Travers have been giving locals a taste of their offerings at a recurring pop-up at Hunting Ground in Hampden—which returns for one last installment this Saturday, June 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. He says that he’s enjoyed having a personal interaction with patrons, and is looking forward to meeting regular customers at Sophomore Coffee—cleverly named after he and Travers' second venture in the business, the first being Charmington's.

“I’ve always thought the coffee could be a regular luxury item,” he says. “It’s something you have that is really made with care from the best ingredients. I’ve always made the joke that the coffee P. Diddy can drink, I can drink, too. You can’t say that about a lot of other things that P. Diddy has. It's a sensible luxury.”

Meet The Author

Lauren Cohen is a digital associate editor for Baltimore, where she blogs about food, events, lifestyle, and community news.

You May Also Like

Food & Drink

Review: Heirloom

At Heirloom in Lewes, everything old is new again.

In Good Taste

Open & Shut: Checkerspot Brewing; National Rosé Day; Bill Bateman's

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

Food & Drink

Review: Emma's Tea Spot

Keep calm and visit Emma’s Tea Spot in Hamilton.

Food & Drink

Sip Tips: April 2018

These three drinks reflect distinct flavors of their region.

Food & Drink

Review: Chez Hugo Bistro

Steve Monnier’s Chez Hugo Bistro delights downtown with its focus on France.

In Good Taste

Chef Ashish Alfred Bringing Duck Duck Goose to Fells Point Next Month

Local chef shares culinary background, vision for French fare, and love of Baltimore.

Connect With Us

Most Read

Union Craft Brewing Prepares to Debut New Taproom: The brewery's new spot features a beer garden, arcade games, and a ton more space.

Enoch Pratt Free Library Eliminates Overdue Fines: At least 13,000 borrowers who had their cards blocked will be welcomed back.

Best Running Routes Around Baltimore: From woody trails to historic sites, these local routes keep runners on their toes.

Geppi's Entertainment Museum to Close and Donate Collection to Library of Congress: Museum to close on June 3 and donate more than 3,000 items of comic books, pop art, and other memorabilia.

Heavy Seas Plans Innovative Expansion at Halethorpe Facility: On the heels of Heavy Seas Alehouse closure, the brewery looks toward the future.