Ross Nickerson got his degree from UPenn, pursued a career in mechanical engineering, and taught physics in England. But it was his love for coffee that pushed him to deviate from his projected career path. By the end of this week, he and his fiancée Meghan McCusker will officially become small business owners, opening Function Coffee Labs on 10th and Carpenter Streets.
The "Function" name is an ode to Nickerson's previous life as a math and science man. Mathematically (and very simply put) a function relates an input to an output, and it's that sort of thinking that he will attribute to his coffee-making style. How, you ask? Stuff like this:
After sampling over a hundred roasts from around the country, Nickerson chose Ceremony Roasters out of Maryland as the shop's primary roast, and Case Coffee Roasters for added variety. Of course, he has plans to feature a Philly roaster as well, but Nickerson wants FCL to offer something different for Philly's coffee drinkers, "Why come here if you can go to Square One [the cafe], if we're serving Square One coffee?"
One of the cafe's biggest draws is its Mahlkönig EK 43 grinder, which originated from spice-grinding beginnings, and after 2013 World Barista runner-up Matt Perger used it for his routine, it became one of the premier coffee grinders to ever grace this planet. At Function, Nickerson will proudly pull a "Coffee Shot" — basically a drip-style filtered coffee roast (ground to a uniform particle distribution that can only come from the EK 43), pushed through an espresso machine, amplifying its flavor, sweetness and aroma to a virtually unattainable level — that is, unless you have the right grinder.
The rest of the menu (below) will be pretty standard: pour-overs, espresso drinks, drip, and iced. Look for coffee tasting flights and pastries by Mount Airy's High Point Café. The cafe itself, which not too long ago housed Down Dog Healing Cafe, went through some substantial renovation. Not to worry, they'll be keeping the South Philly mosaics on the building's facade.