The complexities of the artistry and science behind a good cup of coffee are innumerable; with descriptors akin to those of a fine glass of wine, coffee has many distinctives that help determine how it will taste. Couple Steve and Chelsea Willingham of Clarity Coffee are well versed in the nuances of flavors, hence their name, because when a coffee’s undertones are obvious, it is said to have “clarity.”
Chelsea explained that “coffee beans go through nearly a dozen hands before being poured into a cup and everyone has to be on the same page for it to actually be delicious,” so consistency between people is key to ensure quality. Steve and Chelsea go to great lengths to select their beans, trying samples from all over the country, showcasing favorites from several different roasters each week. Chemexes and a mod bar, a time-based water dispenser that can be adjusted for time and pressure, help to ensure a consistently brewed cup of coffee that is clean, approachable, and balanced.
Clarity’s modern, minimalist design creates a sleek, subdued space; it’s becoming the new place for creatives looking for a quieter meeting space. Local artists stage monthly exhibits, too.
The menu ranges from cappuccinos in their purest 6 oz. form to specialty drinks representing seasonal flavors. A high degree of intentionality pervades; staff understands how to pair flavors well and additions don’t overpower the beans. Quite the opposite.
Still, Steve laughed as he described the foibles that February brought. The passion fruit and dragon fruit experiments bombed. They ultimately served up a delicious Neapolitan— cappuccino accented by the taste of chocolate-dipped strawberry. Spring showcased more enticing originals, a heavenly honey-lavender latte. The teas also impress: T, an Urban Teahouse’s chai and the Woodshed matcha latte have got us on a tea kick.
Steve and his team strive for community, not competition. Steve is “super stoked” to sponsor the recently formed Barista Guild, which includes other serious shops such as Cafe Evoke, Syrup Breakfast and Elemental Coffee Roasters. The guild is determined to elevate coffee culture here, providing resources for baristas and home brewers. They also partner with local non-profits.
Clarity is the culmination of its owner putting in many years in the coffee business. Its team can elaborate on where the beans of the week came from, and chances are, tell you about the family who grew them. As wife Chelsea mentioned, it takes communication with growers, roasters and baristas, as well as consistency, to make a great cup of coffee.
431 W Main St. claritycoffee.com.