- Nick Price
Three Pines Coffee: Salt Lake City’s New Main Street Cafe
Updated: Mar 24, 2022
Sprudge: Coffee News And Culture
June 14th, 2017 By Keith Flanagan
Three Pines Coffee opened months ago in Salt Lake City. But that’s not where their story began—it all started with an espresso cart.
Meg Frampton and Nick Price, partners and owners, joined Salt Lake City’s budding craft coffee scene in 2015. The duo’s pine-paneled espresso cart was savvy and minimal, spruced with potted cacti and squared away with one single-group espresso machine and a single espresso grinder. They served Portland’s Heart Roasters, a company Price worked with during former stints in Los Angeles. “It was very straightforward with the cart,” says Price. “Just an espresso, Americano, cappuccino, or latte—we kept it at that.”
In the beginning, they brought their cart to hip events and farmers markets, and later, were regulars at Liberty Heights Fresh, a slightly off-grid and upmarket grocer whose owner permitted them space on weekdays. It was a sensible fit for the pair and their fans, Sprudge included.
But as they parked their cart, they picked up traction and outgrew their post. In 2016, they left their cart behind and opened a brick-and-mortar store—sort of.
Their new shop was downtown, but on a sleepy side street, tucked inside From Scratch, an aptly named bakery and restaurant. Here, Three Pines Coffee expanded its menu, adding drip and iced coffee to their lineup. While the new space was certainly petite—just large enough for a two-person staff and without seats for customers—there were definite perks, like the fresh pastries baked just feet away. Being indoors was a step up, but gave Frampton and Price a taste of what they really wanted—a full-on retail space of their own, with lots of foot traffic.
And so, one year later, they moved to Main Street.
Just one street over, Three Pines Coffee’s new location brings craft culture front and center. It’s a boon for locals, but also for visitors: It’s a stone’s throw from City Creek Center, a surprisingly attractive open-air development with high-end retail; on the same block as the just-opened Eccles Theater; kitty-corner from hotels like the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City.
But the biggest, best change for Three Pines Coffee is the ability to be fully themselves.
“We’re able to offer everything on our own at our new location,” explains Price. They’re branching into chai and mocha, as well as matcha, a hard-pressed find in Salt Lake City. Increasingly crafty, they now make their own vanilla syrup, and they’ll continue making their own almond milk. A partnership with local bakery Bubble & Brown stocks their pastry case with curiosities like blood orange and caramel loaves, as well as exclusive treats, like a one-day-only chocolate old-fashioned cake that will surely be missed.
More space permitted coffee on tap, so they tapped into it, of course. A broader menu called for more staff, so they ensured the new layout would accommodate three baristas at one time. The robust trio not only has more elbow room, but new equipment at its fingertips; among them, a La Marzocco GB5 two-group espresso machine, two Nuova Simonelli Mythos One Clima Progrinders, and one Mahlkönig EK 43 grinder for cold brew. For drip coffee, a FETCO XTS machine is new, but old—it’s from a defunct series that Heart Roasters rebuilds and sells. According to Heart, it’s better thanFETCO’s newer models.
No longer small, Three Pines Coffee is now sleek. An L-shaped coffee bar is lined with light wood and a black countertop. A series of tables are built into the wall, perfect for pairs. A longer counter at the front welcomes company, whether in singles or threes. You’ll find potted cacti there, too.
“Our vibe is simple, high-quality, and minimal,” says Frampton, before quickly adding friendly to the list. “My dad came in the other day and said it was bright and happy.”
And that’s the ethos that Frampton and Price aim for at Three Pines Coffee, from their humble espresso cart, to this definite step up—now, they have finally found their happy place.
Keith Flanagan is a freelance writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, contributing to Condé Nast Traveler, Tasting Table, USA Today, Paste Magazine, The Robb Report, and more. Read more Keith Flanagan on Sprudge.