By Jordan Stovka
University of Maryland students will be deprived of quality coffee no longer, as Hyattsville’s Vigilante Coffee Company plans to expand to College Park this fall.
Owner Chris Vigilante believes the new location will “change the game” of coffee options currently available for students, something he himself didn’t have during his collegiate years.
“I didn’t drink a ton of coffee in college, but I also didn’t have access to any high quality shops and we’re going to put one of the best shops in the country right there,” said Vigilante, 29.
Vigilante promised to be “designing with the students in mind,” anticipating the coffee shop to add a refreshing look to College Park. It will replace #1 Liquors between The View and Varsity apartments and break up the monotony of corporate chain businesses that currently inhabit the city’s stretch of Route 1.
“I think for College Park, it’ll be a nice stake in the ground as a local business,” he said. “College Park has a lot of corporate, bigger brands along the Route 1 corridor. They’re not a reflection of the community.”
The Vigilante Coffee Company story begins in Hawaii, where Vigilante learned about coffee roasts and espresso bars. It’s also where he first began to purchase coffee beans from local farmers—a trend he sought to incorporate in his own company.
Vigilante additionally strives to “make the world a better place” with his coffee, pouring his passion and earnings back into the origins of his business’s success.
“We have an initiative every summer where we take 10 percent of our cold brew sales and we give it back to the farms we used it from,” he explained. “In addition to that, we work directly with our farmers and pay premium price for the best quality coffee.”
Things “snowballed from there,” and shortly after his time in Hawaii, Vigilante found his way to Washington, D.C. where he started his roastery’s humble beginnings in a basement in Trinidad, D.C. in 2012. Two years later, he opened his first café on Hyattsville’s Gallatin Street.
“At the time, there wasn’t really any specialty coffee,” he said. “There were a few shops that sold coffee from other roasters, but I’d go as far as saying we’re the pioneers of specialty coffee in Washington, D.C.”
Since then, Vigilante Coffee has become a local favorite, serving as the “heartbeat of Hyattsville,” in Vigilante’s words, providing the community with a comfortable rendez-vous to connect, converse and enjoy specialty coffee.
“We’re very grateful to be a place where people can be themselves and get some work done, but also enjoy the relationships and community around them,” Vigilante said.
Head roaster Franklin Ventura cited the community’s satisfaction from the many listservs circulating amongst Hyattsville residents.
“My wife is a member in some of the listservs, and she’s always telling me how well the community speaks about the Vigilante coffee shop,” Ventura said. “It’s like Chris said, it’s the heartbeat of the community because everyone comes—mostly on the weekends. If you come on the weekends, you will see all the families sharing a cup of coffee.”
Vigilante and his team expect nothing less from their College Park location.
The café will continue to offer its plethora of options, which includes a range of cold brews, lattes, teas, espresso and pour-over variations.n addition, it serves muffins, pastries and açai bowls, and expects the current staples of the Hyattsville location to also be a hit in College Park.
“It’s a hand-brewed, made-to-order for one specific person, so there is a lot of attention to detail to make it,” he said of the pour-overs.
“From the food side, the açai bowls for our college students are staples for sure. You know that feeling after you eat sushi where you feel full, but you don’t feel like you can’t do anything? Like you’re ready to take on the world? That’s what an açai bowl is.”
Vigilante is quick to credit his strong team of employees as what makes the shop so efficient, and this will bring success to its new community.
“It’s very much a team effort at Vigilante Coffee,” he said. “I think we’ll bring some really high quality coffee to College Park, and we’re excited.”
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vigilante Coffee Co.’s Facebook page.
Jordan Stovka is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.