Espresso bar to share Main Street storefront

MIDDLEBURY — There’s something new brewing at the vacant storefront at 58 Main St. in Middlebury that formerly housed Clementine.
The space will soon become home to an espresso bar to be operated by Burlington-based Cursive Coffee, along with a new business called Boo & Roxy that will be headquarters to local architect and designer Anne Barakat and her husband, Jon Craine, a production designer and art director.
Founders Jim Osborn and Sam Clifton describe Cursive Coffee as an “itinerant café and micro-roasting company.” They founded the business during the summer of 2013, introducing their product through various pop-ups and private events before building a devoted following as a staple of the Burlington Farmers’ Market. They have also become a regular fixture at Pine Street’s Barge Canal Market.
Osborn explained that Cursive has been able to carve out a niche by espousing a minimalist philosophy and by sourcing its coffee beans through a socially responsible supplier.
“We have gained recognition by having an extremely simple menu,” Osborn said during a recent telephone interview.
It is a menu that never exceeds five options with “ingredients deliberately refined to only coffee and milk, and dedication to purveying a rotating selection of delicious, traceable and compelling coffees,” reads Cursive’s business profile on its website, cursivecoffee.com.
Cursive sources its coffee beans through The Coffee Shrub, a California company that contracts directly with farmers and exporters from around the world, rather than through distributors, according to Osborn. This means that the growers get a larger return for their products, he said. The Coffee Shrub is a micro-seller serving companies that also roast. Cursive roasts weekly.
“We pay a lot more money for our coffee than if we were buying it through a distributor,” Osborn said.
That means the cost to consumers will be somewhat higher that at other venues, Osborn acknowledged. A cup of Cursive will run you between $2.50 to $4, and most customers will say it’s worth it, according to Osborn.
Barakat had sampled Cursive’s wares and liked what she tasted. When she announced plans to have a collaborative public space at Boo & Roxy, Cursive Coffee officials saw it as a good opportunity to finally lay down some roots for their budding enterprise. The two parties forged a deal that will allow Cursive to operate an espresso bar in the front portion of the 58 Main St. space. Osborn and Clifton launched a fundraising campaign through Indiegogo.com to raise capital for its Middlebury start-up. The space is currently under construction and Osborn said the venture will proceed regardless of the fund-raising success.
A floating partition will separate the Boo & Roxy business from its java counterpart.
Cursive will sell its coffee retail at the new Middlebury store, as well as offer some food options.
“We are not yet sure of what those food options will be,” Osborn said. But he expects Cursive will contract with a local provider for high-quality food that will complement the espressos on the menu.
“We will not shoulder the food prep, but will look for something that does not diminish the standards we have set for our coffee,” Osborn said.
Meanwhile, Boo & Roxy will give Barakat and Craine a downtown presence for their respective services. Barakat has done architectural design work for such high-profile customers as Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Hotel Vermont, Urban Outfitters and Teva.
Craine’s résumé includes creation of stage backdrops for the Chicago (rock band) 2000 World Tour, scenic design work for the Fall Out Boy 2007 Young Wild Things Tour, and scenic design for “Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy” on Broadway.
“This is our brick-and-mortar opportunity to have fun with the storefront space,” Barakat said.
That fun, according to Barakat, is likely to include some pop-up retail events and ever changing window displays.
“We are treating it as an art gallery, as well,” Barakat said. “We are excited about it.”
A Boo & Roxy website is currently under construction. Plans call for the new businesses to be open by mid- to late June.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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