In a perfect world or in a dream—those are the only two places where you might find something like Outside Coffee. The third spot was in Erica Lang’s heart, which leads us to the fourth spot: the Wealthy Street reality. And reality means a lot of Costco runs for milk and honey to keep this beautiful, green dream running.
The vision was simple: following the heels of the outdoorsy community that’s fallen in love with Lang’s first business, Woosah Outfitters, Lang had the idea to give that community a space to relax and connect outdoors. Lang is the co-owner of Outside Coffee along with her partner, Kelly McPhee.
The pair was searching for a bigger building for Woosah and the spot they found allowed them to live above the shop and create an outdoor space/coffee shop in the garden connected to the shop. Add a Kickstarter campaign and as they say, if you build it, they will come.
On my visit, moms are kissing babies, couples are grabbing something to drink before they head off on vacation, there’s a man enjoying his time in a hammock, and the welcome chatter from a large table of women with computers tells me they are working remotely. Everywhere you turn, someone is lounging and soaking up all the good, green vibes.
“We have put so much love and thought into the garden, we hope that people can feel that energy when they’re here,” said Lang. From Adirondacks, lounge chairs and couches, there’s plenty of room to visit with friends or read a book. There are a few long bars where guests can sit or stand and even grassy areas for the occasional blanket.
But don’t let this natural hang out fool you. There’s an impressive communal workspace in the center of the garden where you can charge your computer and work away from the office. It was a lack of public workspace with Wi-Fi that was one of the problems Lang was looking to solve.
“Before I had a retail store I used to coffee-shop-hop to get work done,” said Lang. “I always wanted to sit outside, but usually there’re no outlets, no music or no shade. We wanted to make sure we offered all of this to our community, so they can enjoy the outdoors and get some work done at the same time.”
Whether you’re at Outside Coffee for work or play, there’s so much more than just coffee on the menu.
“We partnered with Ferris; they are our roaster. They taught us everything we needed to know about coffee to start a shop through their program, the Foundry,” said Lang, who also mentions the popular Grasshopper Matcha Latte, a banana latte named Granny Banany (after her Grandma Irene) and kombucha. Assorted pastries and toasts are served including Avocado Toast, Goat Cheese Toast and a PB Toast consisting of peanut butter, Nutella, banana and chia seeds.
While enjoying your time in the garden, it’s possible you’ll have dog visitors (they are welcome). It’s conceivable that another business hosted in the garden, Plant Shop, catches your eye and you end up taking something live home with you.
Everyone’s visit will be a bit different but the thing that stays the same are the mindful moments inspired by nature—the spaces we can make serene and safe and why that’s important.
“As an LGBTQ couple I think we are very aware of how awful it can feel to be excluded or treated poorly,” said Lang, who wants this space to be intentionally welcoming, inviting and kind. “I’m so happy that people can feel that love. While we sell great, quality coffee, our focus is on the community and making their experience memorable and comfortable. We hope after people leave the garden they feel refreshed.”
Outside Coffee is located at 734 Wealthy St. SE. Business hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Look for community events in the future including weekly community bike rides, community dog walks, lunchtime yoga, live music and events for children.