Cup of Excellence

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A decade on, Perc Coffee keeps grinding

About 10 years ago, musician Philip Brown packed up his family, moved from Athens, Georgia, to Savannah and started Perc Coffee in a 350-square-foot rented space. Now, Perc is arguably the official coffee of the Hostess City.

“One of the greatest things about Savannah is that from the very first day, I had amazing people who found me and were on ‘Team Perc,’” Brown recalls. “There were so many people in this town who bought into our success and helped, whether by buying a bag of coffee or helping me figure out a spreadsheet. Just all kinds of things.”

He explains that coming into Savannah’s food scene in 2010 was pivotal. Many young chefs at the time were interested in using local products, while cafes like Butterhead Greens and Sammy Green’s were just getting started (both have since closed). The demand for local coffee was there — and Perc was perfect to fill it. Now, Perc is on menus at restaurants and cafes across the city, including Foxy Loxy, Henny Penny Art Space & Cafe, Fox & Fig Cafe, Big Bon Bodega and more, along with its headquarters on East Broad Street, where patrons can sip everything from classic drip coffee to nitro cold brew “all dang day.”

A decade of expansion hasn’t been limited to Savannah, either. In August 2020, Perc opened a new location in Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood. Oversized glass windows fill the shop’s interior with natural light, but for now, window service and relaxed outdoor seating are the safest options.

“[Opening a location in] Atlanta made all the sense in the world,” says Alan Fischer, Brown’s business partner. “In Savannah, people don’t come up to you if you’re wearing a Perc T-shirt, but people in Atlanta would stop us in the middle of dinner, like, ‘Oh my gosh, are you from Perc?’ That was so encouraging.”

With Perc Atlanta, the launch of an instant coffee line and doubling the size
of Perc Savannah’s operations (including adding a newer roaster), the business has undoubtedly grown, but Brown and Fischer say they never want to lose the close-knit, personable feeling that comes along with being a small business. They also don’t want to lose sight of the bottom line.

“In our hearts, we’re just a company trying to constantly make good stuff and have a good time,” Brown says. It’s the type of buzz Savannahians — and now Atlantans — can get behind.