There’s a new craft coffee shop with a mission opening in Tuscaloosa on August 1st. UPerk, boasting the state of Alabama’s first Modbar under-counter espresso system, will feature a variety of coffees from Birmingham-based roaster Seeds Coffee, including pour-overs, espresso drinks, and Nitro-cold-brewed coffee and teas. The café will also serve loose-leaf teas from locally-owned business Tea Town Alabama, as well as gourmet breakfast and lunch wraps and sandwiches.
The menu, a nod to the Southern food style of Tuscaloosa, is the creation of Community Manager Jamey Hamm. But the community-oriented coffee shop idea has been percolating for three years inside of James Goodlet, Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church and Community Pastor/Director of UPerk.
As an extension of UKirk, the church’s collegiate ministry, the mission of UPerk is to be a community cultivating change through Christ’s love– for all people. The not-for-profit enterprise will seek partnerships with service-based agencies and initiatives in Tuscaloosa, with a portion of each sale supporting those in partnership with the ministry.
“For three years, we have been dreaming of creating a space downtown that’d be more than a coffee shop; it’d be a community center,” Goodlet said of the concept for UPerk. “Now, with UPerk opening, our dream has become a reality. Not only will we be serving craft coffee and delicious food, but we also will be a place where people come and dream together about how to give back to and serve the community we love. Truly, all are welcome here.”
The coffee shop is truly state of the art, a space that lends itself to gathering. “We will be a craft/specialty coffee shop featuring the Modbar espresso system, which is a top of the line espresso machine,” said Hamm. “All the mechanics are under counter so there’s no bulky machine blocking the barista & customer, allowing for the full experience for the customer. We are the first shop in Alabama to have this machine. We will also feature pour-overs as our manual brew method & Nitro brew + Nitro tea on tap!”
When asked of his menu, Hamm was thrilled to stretch creatively and work with local partners to create untraditional Southern takes on fresh and healthy items. “Our menu will have gluten free & vegan options & very unique panini recipes featuring some goods from Katie Farms & various local suppliers,” Hamm said. “Pastries will be fresh from Heritage House. Homemade butter cream pies, including a peanut butter Nutella pie, are made in shop.”
Hamm recently moved home to Tuscaloosa after residing in Brooklyn, NY, where he founded Roots Café, a coffee shop that became an enclave for artists. Like Roots, UPerk will be a community-building coffee shop, featuring a monthly rotation of local artists and frequently-held nights with live music. In addition, UPerk has space that can be rented for community events.
UPerk will host a Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony with the Chamber of Commerce at 5 p.m. on August 22. Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox will cut the ribbon as UPerk officially joins the “One and Only” Tuscaloosa community. An Open House will continue until close at 8 p.m. On August 29, UKirk will host an opening worship celebration at UPerk beginning at 5:30 pm. The campus ministry will subsequently host weekly student worship services at the café on Tuesday nights at 6:38 pm beginning September 5.
UPerk is located at 405 20th Avenue (Suite 2) in downtown Tuscaloosa. Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2-8 p.m. on Sunday.