Tampa-based multi roaster Now and Then hosts its first coffee pop-up in Seminole Heights this weekend

Founders and co-owners Demi Chacón and Davy Ball detail their latest delve into the world of specialty coffee.

click to enlarge Demi Chacón and Davy Ball of Now and Then. - c/o Now And Then
c/o Now And Then
Demi Chacón and Davy Ball of Now and Then.
“Have you taken the time for yourself today?”

It may be a simple question—but the founders of Tampa’s new multi roaster and specialty coffee pop-up Now and Then take it quite seriously. The phrase is designed to help you slow down in the morning and reflect a bit, perhaps when you’re making the first cup of the day.

Veteran baristas Davy Ball and Demi Chacón started fleshing out the ideas for their multi roaster pop-up just a few months ago. Inspired by different cafes across the country they’ve frequented, years of experience in the industry, and just a serious, unadulterated love for good coffee— Ball and Chacón will host Now and Then’s soft opening starting at 10 a.m. on Feb. 12 at Seminole Heights’ Jug & Bottle Dept.

A multi roaster is a little different than your typical cafe. It’s the responsibility of a multi roaster to source coffee beans from all over the world and give their consumers information on where they’re from and what notes are highlighted. And Now and Then will be different from other multi roasters, due to the fact that it’s a mobile coffee cart that won't be tied down to any particular location.
“One thing I noticed when I was traveling around the country is that every city has at least one multi roaster,” Chacón, who used to pour at St. Petersburg’s Bandit cafe, tells Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. “We’re trying to bring coffees to Tampa that Tampa has never seen before—and we’re going to bring the wow factor.”

For now, Now and Then will feature two different specialty coffees on bar—a batch from a U.S.-based roaster and another from outside of the country. Next week’s soft opening will feature the North Carolina-based Hex Coffee alongside beans all the way from Japan, provided by Onibus Coffee.

Alongside the two specialty pour over coffees and iced coffee on tap, the mobile Now and Then cart will also be equipped with a full espresso machine— although it won’t be delivered in time for next week’s debut. The Now and Then cart—which they’ve built themselves— resembles Commune + Co.’s mobile coffee stand, where Ball has worked for the past few years.

And although both Ball and Chacón acknowledge Tampa's jumping roaster scene, they’re going to stick with sourcing beans from outside the Bay area for now. They’re still committed to community-building with other folks in the business through their pop-ups and different types of collaborations.

But the caffeine-slinging mobile coffee cart is just one side of Now and Then. Giving folks great coffee and espresso is one thing, but Ball and Chacón also want to use their new platform to be extremely transparent about their business.

“One of our goals is to become an educational platform to inform our consumers,” Chacón says. “Not many people know just how many hands touch their coffee before it’s handed to them.”

They’ve already gotten a head start on the educational aspect, as this Now and Then Instagram post highlights the Hex Coffee beans that their new patrons can try at next week’s pop up. The post showcases the farmers that grew the beans—Ana & Nicolás Crespo of Azuay, Ecuador—as well as how long the beans were soaked for, what method was used to dry them, and even the specific elevation of where the beans were grown (1,700 meters above sea level to be exact.)
click to enlarge Hex Coffee c/o Now and Then
Hex Coffee c/o Now and Then
By educating their consumers about the supply chain of the global coffee industry, Now and Then helps patrons make more informed decisions about what kind of coffee they buy, who they buy it from, and how much it’s actually worth.

When asked how this particular business model is sustainable, there was a slight pause before Ball replied “well… it’s not,” followed by laughter from him and his partner. Although their particular business model might not seem sustainable in a traditional sense, what’s more important is that the folks behind the beans are treated well too.

“Cheap resources can sometimes be enticing for businesses because it can be more profitable for them, but with Now and Then we’re trying to think about the bigger picture and want to be sure everyone along the supply chain is being paid fairly, '' Ball tells CL. “By being really intentional about the roasters we choose to work with, we can be sure that this is a sustainable business for not only us but as well as the producers that grow coffees around the world.”

There’s a fine line to toe between getting the highest scoring coffee for Now and Then customers, and making sure that everyone who helped get that latte in their hands are also treated fairly. And for folks that aren't in on coffee lingo, high scoring coffee means that it is both good quality and its flavors are well-developed, so specific notes come through in a strong and bold way.

In terms of the price point for Now and Then’s different beverages, they will be comparable to other coffee shops in the Tampa Bay area. Latte and cappuccino prices will be pretty much locked in, but the rotating menu of specialty coffees will be more of a sliding scale price.

Now and Then will also be completely plant-based, stemming from both of their opinions about the environment—one of the many ways that Ball and Chacón’s values stand at the forefront of their business model. The only milk available for lattes and cappuccinos will be Minor Figures’ oat milk, simply because “it’s the best at highlighting the intricacies in coffee,” according to Ball.

A food component is also in the works, as Ball and Chacón are conducting some research in development in the Now and Then headquarters (aka their kitchen.) Since Ball works for Commune + Co., which also hosts popular doughnut pop-ups with Get Along, perhaps we may see a collaboration sometime in the future. But for now, beans reigns supreme on the Now and Then menu.

You can also expect some sort of merchandise aspect at next week’s soft opening—most notably, t-shirts with their “Have you taken the time for yourself today?” slogan on it. Other merchandise that will be available at future pop ups (or for pre-order on their website) will include cupping spoons, stickers and other types of apparel.

And with almost two decades of industry experience between the both of them, Ball and Chacón have learned a lot of lessons over the years that will be naturally applied to their first venture as business owners.

“Joel Davis is the coffee OG of Tampa, and I've learned a lot from watching him manage a business and go through the ups and downs of it all,” Ball says. “But at the end of the day, I just love that we have the opportunity to give someone a beverage that can ultimately turn their whole day around.”

Chacón—who’s professionally trained in Glittercat’s Barista Bootcamp and has ranked in national coffee competitions—mentions that this mobile version of Now and Then is only the beginning. Both Ball and Chacón see their business evolving into a brick-and-mortar multi roaster down the line.

“Something that I’ve learned working at other shops is that when you are truly passionate and you pour your heart into something, people usually recognize that, '' Chacón says. “ We want to support the community, and we think in return, they will support us—like a symbiotic relationship.”

And the very first chance to support Tampa’s new speciality coffee pop-up and multi roaster is on Saturday, Feb. 12, at Seminole Heights’ Jug & Bottle Dept.

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