by Lorie Lewis Ham
I really enjoy finding new places to share with our readers, especially coffee shops! During the Rogue Festival in March, I discovered that a new coffee shop had opened up in a familiar location in the Tower District. Alchemist Coffee Lab has taken over the location where Hi-Top coffee used to be, just down the street from Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater on Wishon. After trying their delicious hot mocha, I decided to reach out to learn more and recently chatted with owner Hamzeh Mahmoud.
KRL: When and how did Alchemist Coffee Lab first come to be?
Hamzeh: Alchemist had a soft opening on December 19, 2022 and a grand opening on January 9, 2023. I had been planning on opening a coffee shop for the last couple of years after roasting coffee for the last 7 years.
KRL: Sounds like you already had a background in coffee, can you tell us more?
Hamzeh: Coffee is a big part of my culture. I am an Arab and it is huge in our tradition of honoring our guests. I had always wanted to do something different with it and started roasting in my living room about 7 years ago.
KRL: How did you get into roasting your own coffee?
Hamzeh: I got into roasting coffee while I was living in Jordan a few years ago. I started roasting on a 1kg batch roaster and started to experiment. I probably went through/burned/destroyed 500lbs of coffee before I started to know what I was doing lol.
Then I started to sell to my coworkers at the time (I was an editor and proofreader for a publishing and distribution company) and they loved it. And it kind of just grew from there. When I came back to the states, I brought the roaster with me and started Q29 Roastery (my wholesale company) with a couple of business partners. Alchemist is my own baby that was born at the most opportune time.
KRL: What is the process like?
Hamzeh: The process is very enjoyable to me. We start out with raw, green coffee beans. We put them into our drum roaster and sample small batches for our newest coffees. We pull out samples at different times and temperatures from the batch. Then we do a cupping session to taste the samples and once we find what the bean is supposed to taste like we run with that particular sample.
We focus on bringing out the natural flavor notes of the coffee (think of it like a fine wine and wine tasting) through our process. It starts with the farmer, which is why we do small lots when we order coffee.
KRL: What all do you serve at Alchemist Coffee Lab?
Hamzeh: We serve espresso-based drinks (lattes, cappuccinos, etc. drip coffee, nitro and cold brew, Turkish coffee, chais, matchas, teas, cascara (coffee tea). As far as food goes, we have many toast options (avocado, hummus, PB&J, and olive oil/vinegar), oatmeal, yogurt bowls, bagels, pastries.
KRL: What makes you unique?
Hamzeh: We serve very high-end specialty coffee from all over the world. We use many different brew methods, such as syphons, pour overs, and offer flights. We focus most on the natural flavor notes of the bean.
KRL: What is your personal favorite drink there?
Hamzeh: My favorite drink is an iced pour over.
KRL: What is your most popular drink?
KRL: How did you end up at the location you are at?
Hamzeh: It happened by chance. The right opportunity came along and I was fortunate enough to land here.
KRL: Future goals and plans?
Hamzeh: Growing and being a part of the community, and maybe expanding.
KRL: Location and hours?
Hamzeh: 1306 North Wishon Ave.
M-F 8am-5pm Sat-Sun 8am-4pm
KRL: Where can people find you online?
Hamzeh: alchemistcoffeelab.com and Instagram.
If you are looking for a great cup of coffee I recommend checking out Alchemist Coffee Lab! I know I’ll be back!