When Compass Coffee built its Shaw roastery and coffee shop, founders Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez retained a portion of the building to use as a warehouse and manufacturing center for their wholesale business. Six months later, they already need more room. Haft and Suarez signed a lease last week to open a new coffee roasting facility at 1401 Okie St. NE, across the street from the massive, historic Streamline Moderne Hecht's warehouse that is being retrofitted for apartments.


A warehouse that will later house Compass Coffee (Courtesy of Compass Coffee)

"We haven’t outgrown [Shaw] per se, but every day it gets a little bit tighter," said Haft. Their office, for example, "Is completely filled with parts for fixing espresso machines. We took away people’s desks."

The Ivy City facility will have a coffee shop, espresso machine repair shop, training facilities and a classroom for hosting coffee workshops. However, most of its footprint will be dedicated to roasting and packaging. Haft and Suarez will install two coffee roasters twice the size of their current machine, as well as a full manufacturing line, with access to a loading dock for transporting their products. Their coffee can be found on the shelves of Whole Foods and other area markets, restaurants and hotels.

"We’re not planning for the next year or year and a half. We’re looking to build our long term home," said Haft. "It’s going to take some time to grow into this."

The 5,000-square-foot roastery, retail and workshop space, and 13,000-square-foot lower-level warehouse is part of a former tomato packaging company. The building will eventually contain a mix of retail and restaurant tenants, with an outdoor seating area.

As Douglas Development's efforts ramp up in Ivy City, a number of restaurants and retailers have moved into the neighborhood in anticipation of the more than 300 new apartments opening later this year. One Eight Distilling opened on Jan. 8, and later this year, Union Kitchen will be expanding into the neighborhood with a second culinary incubator and cafe/market. ProFish will open a casual rooftop restaurant shortly, and the Hecht's project will also bring three concepts from Ghibellina's Ari Gejdenson. A Nike store and the Mom's Organic Market opened earlier this year.

Compass is also expanding into The Shay, a retail and residential building in Shaw. That coffee shop is expected to open in September, and the Ivy City location is anticipated to open in phases next winter. They expect to double their current staff. As with their flagship location -- the development of which was chronicled in a series by The Washington Post -- Haft and Suarez plan to build portions of the facility by hand.