While it’s not inherently difficult to find a decent cup of coffee and a place to hole up and drink it in Santa Fe, the folks who live out toward Sunlit Hills/9 Mile Road have certainly toiled without a dedicated coffee shop as far back as any of us can remember. Take it from me—I lived out that way for a million years, and if you’d forgotten to get yourself a nice bag of something before you went all the way home? Well, the ramifications are too grim to truly comprehend.
All that’s changing now, however, with Wolf & Mermaid Enchanted Roasters, a new coffee roasting outfit and café from couple Scott Baird and Kate Kudynska, as well as Scott’s brother Jonny. The trio roasts small batch, single-origin blends from Central America, South America and Africa in a small-capacity Aillio Bullet roaster with a massive new one from industry leader Joper on the way.
They’re serving upscale coffee drinks from a section of the bar within the Bourbon Grill at El Gancho (104 Old Las Vegas Hwy., (505) 870-7479) and have plans to open another location this summer. Kudynska is also baking the best damn gluten-free treats she can. All this is to say the company is expanding its operations following a whirlwind year that included big moves, deep love, business madness and so much more. Do you know Wolf & Mermaid yet? Maybe not. You will soon, though.
But first, take it back a couple years, to New York City, where Baird and Kudynska first met. He was in construction; she was a molecular biologist. Baird and his brother grew up in Albuquerque. Kudynska, on the other hand, immigrated to Canada from Poland when she was young (and yes, we did talk about Degrassi), where she lived for decades. She wound up in New York later, and when she and Baird met, it was one of those love-at-first-sight kind of things you read about. They’ve been inseparable since.
“But we kind of woke up in New York one day and wondered why we were still there,” Baird explains. “We didn’t have any real connections, so we said, ‘OK, let’s figure out a new place to be.’”
Santa Fe called to them. With his ‘Burque youth ringing in his ears, Baird knew he longed for the high desert, and Kudynska agreed.
“It’s the next chapter where you know who you are, yeah?” she tells SFR. “You know what you want.”
Once they arrived here, though, the next step was figuring out how to make a living.
“It was either going to be coffee, wine or cannabis,” Baird says with a laugh, “and coffee was the easiest to jump into.”
In short order, they’d found a rep who could provide them all the beans they could ever want from various countries—single origin and fair trade, of course. From there it was a matter of learning to roast.
“We said, ‘OK, we’re going to roast the best coffee if possible,’ and we started at selling it at farmers markets, and when we got to selling at the Los Alamos market, all of a sudden we were talking to people at Fiestas and Spanish Market,” Baird says. “And this was all in a tent, under an umbrella. We did 55 events last year.”
As popular as the beans were, people wanted ready-made coffee, too, and this altered the business plan slightly. Baird and Kudynska enrolled in the business accelerator program through the New Mexico MainStreet program from the state’s Economic Development Department, which helped secure a temporary space in Los Alamos last February as part of a pop-up program. Next, the couple secured a lease in the same building and began renovations with plans to offer coffee from a section of the bar at Bathtub Row Brewing daily.
The space at 239 Johnson St. in downtown Santa Fe should also be ready this summer. For now, though, evolution is the name of the game. As Jonny says, learning to get into the coffee game has upped his appreciation for every aspect of the coffee game—it’s about respect.
“It’s brought everything to a new level,” he says. “And I love making crazy drinks.”
As for the crazy drink he made during my visit, the Zozo-chino homage to Mexican hot chocolate tasted just right, subtly sweet and brimming with flavor from Wolf & Mermaid’s Soaring Condor roast, a Costa Rican number. At $16 per 12 ounces, it’s pricey, but with new shops in the works and a current foothold just outside the city, it’s kind of worth it to get in on the goodness.