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Specialty Coffee Steals the Show at Foundation Coffee Roasters in Fairfax

When you want great coffee, you start with the foundations. In this case, start with Foundation Coffee Roasters. Fairfax, Virginia’s only roastery, Foundation Coffee Roasters, has it all — incredible specialty coffee, decadent pastries, and a unique spectator-friendly space that puts the baristas on display like a theater stage. Travel to Foundation Coffee; you won’t regret experiencing their high quality craft.

The buzz that convinced us to go started with Instagram. Local DC customers were snapping fancy latte art and tagging the roastery. And this “word of mouth” lead us down a quick rabbit hole and a short drive from DC to — for lack of a better description — strip-mall parking lot. The GPS navigated us to the back of the stores, like at the loading docks. Were we even in the right place? Yes, and don’t let the approach deter you; it’s just one element of many in their charming brand. Foundation Coffee Roasters is a renovated warehouse space. The large sign out front beckoned us to come inside…

The first thing patrons see upon arriving inside of Foundation Coffee Roasters is how vast and airy the space is. Clean and minimalistic, it gives a whole new meaning to “garage chic.” The eye follows the beautiful coffee bar, silver and white details, glass, and wooden touches in the counters, tables and the benches, all while everything is grounded by the cement floor. It’s a very solid-feeling place. Earthy and industrial.

As you approach the baristas, a glass case filled to the brim with opulent pastries and desserts, greets you. Colorful, sugar-laden pieces that harken from the board game Candy Land, these confections are certainly a feast for the eyes. In the mood for something savory? They offer various pizza “pastries,” as well. Foundation Coffee Roasters’ space will protect you like a cool cave and offer you a sweet hug.

The drink menu is purposefully minimalistic so you choose from drip coffee or just a few options of espresso drinks. We settled on a latte and sat down to chat with the owner, Haewoon Kim, former IT professional turned owner and roaster. He opened the roastery for “the passion for coffee.” Kim extrapolated on the menu. “The simple menu allows us to focus on quality.” The specialty coffee shop also offers one size for most of their drinks rather than a small or large. This is to maintain their “coffee philosophy,” Kim explains. Use of the phrase “coffee philosophy” is perfect to describe Foundation’s entire approach in a nutshell. Thoughtful, immaculate, a passion for excellence.

As we sit chatting, I enjoy the latte, which uses the espresso blend, Blackbird. Foundation Coffee’s Blackbird is a combination of washed Ethiopia, washed Guatemala and washed Colombian, and it’s delicious. I ask if “acidic and bright” would correctly describe the blend. Kim agrees.

“We showcase a brighter espresso. You start with that acidic kick from the Ethiopian coffee, get some fruitiness from the Guatemalan beans, and enjoy a lingering sweetness that really continues on the palate with the Colombia.”

Right now, the focus at Foundation is blends, roasted on two micro-roasters (S7 Pro) that patrons can see from their tables in the back room, but Kim would like to maybe bring in single-origin espresso at some point. That might mean an additional grinder, of course. For now, the coffee bar features a gorgeous white Mahlkönig grinder and a sleek, Slayer espresso machine. The sexy design of the Slayer really fits the cool aesthetic of the shop. Coffee really takes “the center stage,” as Kim dog-ears during our discussion.

Everything in Foundation Coffee Roasters is open and exposed. Customers can watch the baristas as they pull shots, pour latte art, flitter around the bar, and deliver drinks. The attention to detail is obvious — even the aprons that the baristas wear are industrial in-style and a heavy-weighted material — nothing here was left to chance.

Kim’s dedication to quality and detail bleeds into all facets of his new business. The roastery opened during the pandemic in August of 2020, and he’s thankful to the community and neighbors for making that possible. As a new business owner, the key is to serve the best quality coffee, using beans that everyone can trust, he shares. Incredibly interested in farmer relationships, he is exploring direct trade options in two origins with plans to branch out, always ensuring quality control. To us, it sounds like a pragmatic, methodical approach that honors their philosophy rather than green washing. We’ll check back in the coming months to learn more.

In addition to their sourcing relationships, Kim is also eyeing a potential dark roast as well as community events. The Foundation Coffee space is simply ideal for events. It’s simply begging for a latte art throw-down. Obviously, the concern right now is COVID-19 and everyone’s safety. “When it’s safe,” Kim envisions a pour over class, or perhaps cupping sessions. We can’t wait to attend! 🙂 We have no doubt that Kim and his staff love quality coffee and keeping the community as safe as possible, so when it’s right, we’re sure events will get scheduled.

Latte art at Foundation Coffee Roasters in Fairfax, Virginia

Before the events go public though, your experience at Foundation Coffee Roasters should “hold you over.” If all the world’s a stage, like Shakespeare said, we’d like to start at the coffee “show” at Foundation Coffee Roasters. High quality coffee, polite customer service, and coffee as the protagonist.

As we sat, sipping on great coffee, taking in the ambiance, it hit us. Make your trip to the roastery soon. We predict it’s only a matter of time before this roastery skyrockets to the top of the specialty roastery lists. You know, like: Top 25 in America. The locals already know that the coffee here is special, but the secret’s out now. You just don’t experience the craft of coffee like this every day.

Foundation Coffee Roasters, thank you for the incredible time cupsoul. Until soon.  ☕ 


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