How Good Coffee was Born in Salt Lake City

How Good Coffee was Born in Salt Lake City

March 25, 2016

SLC’s Coffee is Winning the World Over

Or how revitalizing Utah’s history is influencing food & culture.

You know that Utah’s landscapes are unmatched in form and beauty; you know that Utah’s adventures will change your life; you don’t know that Utah’s coffee scene has quietly surpassed anyone’s expectations—thanks to the likes of Josh Rosenthal of La Barba Coffee who believes that Utah has all the potential in the world to surprise you in the best of ways.

Josh is a musician from Texas who fell in love with Utah’s Wasatch Mountain range while on a snowboarding vacation, and six months later, called himself a Salt Lake City resident. He has invested his heart into this city, and is determined to elevate Salt Lake City’s culture with coffee that isn’t only “good enough for Salt Lake City,” but is good enough for metropolitan coffee shop snobs. Salt Lake City deserves the best in the world—so he brought it here himself with the help of Levi and many other SLC locals. How did he do it?


1. Take a break from bluegrass music makin’ in Texas to fall in love with the Wasatch Mountains while on a snowboarding spring break vacation.

2. Believe that the Wild West still exists—that anything you can imagine is possible, and that you can make a place for yourself with an audacious dream.

3. Discover like-minded people who have been roasting coffee in this town since 1981, and meet the new kids on the block who share your vision for cuisine greatness in a city on the verge of growing up.

4. Find Levi—roasting extraordinaire—and corral him in to launch a business, Charming Beard Coffee. And, by the way, everyone should meet Levi—the unassuming genius behind the counter making sure extraordinary coffee happens.

5. Find the beans. There's a whole world of coffee beans, and this is no small feat.

6. Open the shop. No small feat. There's the location scouting as well as finding and training the best baristas in the west.

7. Infuse Spanish-influence into the brand because Utah was once part of Mexico/Spain. And serve up the best Spanish pastries on this side of the pond inspired by your pilgrimages to El Camino de Santiago where you also tasted the best churros of your life in Xuixo.

8. Design a space with local architects and designers to unite old Spanish esthetics with a nod to Salt Lake City’s history.

9. Share your coffee with the world as visitors come through Salt Lake City and establish your cold brew on the shelves of grocers throughout the entire region—pushing Utah’s boundaries into the greater western frontier.


Coffee: Ethiopia Yakume Siraj

Pastries: Tarta de Santiago

Books: Anne Carson's translation of Sapho Poetry

La Barba Coffee: 327 W 200 S (Inside Finca)