What do you think of right away when you think of Salem, Massachusetts? Chances are your mind immediately goes to witches—and who can blame you—and modern Salem wears these and other historic connections on its sleeve. “It’s full of history, from witch trials, to pirates, to the maritime roots,” says Odd Meter Coffee co-founder Eric Moers. But that’s not all. “[Salem is] also incredibly queer-friendly, funky, inclusive, and progressive,” Moers tells Sprudge, which sounds right on to us—and like a great place for there to be an awesome coffee spot. We dive a little deeper into Salem and learn more about Odd Meter on this latest edition of Sprudge Maps Spotlight.
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As told to Sprudge by Eric Moers.
Introduce yourself to our readers—tell us about your cafe!
Hi hi! We are Angelica and Eric of Odd Meter Coffee, a cozy, vibrant little spot in downtown Salem, MA, where we celebrate our fellow humans and make delicious coffee. Besides loving people and coffee, we believe there’s no point of being in business if we can’t have a positive impact on the world around us, so we’ve built a lot of our values into it. Success for us is about way more than profits. It’s about how much we can increase inclusivity, reduce our impact on our beloved earth, and really connect with the people in our community.
What equipment do you use in your shop?
For drip we’re serving batch brew from a FETCO XTS and grinding with a Mahlkönig EK43. We serve single origin pour-overs using Kalita Wave drippers, and for cold coffee we have toddy-immersion style cold brew as well as an Oji Kyoto slow-drip tower, which is eye-catching and brews amazing single origin cold coffees. For espresso we have a customized Kees van Der Westen Mirage Duette (he’s gorgeous), and Mahlkönig Peak and K30 Air grinders. We use remineralized R/O water throughout.
Which roaster or roasters do you serve?
We serve coffee from George Howell Coffee Roasters. The coffee is so delicious and versatile, as well as super consistent. It allows us to really play with our equipment to highlight the properties of the coffees; and with the Alchemy espresso, a great base for our seasonal lattes. They’ve been really easy to work with.
What is the neighborhood like where you’re located? What’s some other cool stuff nearby?
Salem Mass, “witch city,” is one of the coolest cities we’ve ever known. It’s full of history, from witch trials, to pirates, to the maritime roots of this country. It’s also incredibly queer-friendly, funky, inclusive, and progressive; the downtown is small, so all the fun stuff to do is within walking distance, and many of the buildings are historic. Most of the shops and restaurants here are independent, with very few chains, so it’s truly a unique place, full of witchcraft and pagan shops, and lots of coffee shops. Come Halloween season, it’s like a month long festival celebrating the dark and weird.
How has Coronavirus impacted daily work at your cafe?
We’ve weathered a few shutdowns for quarantine. In fact the two of us got COVID two weeks after we opened and had to shut down for the next two weeks. We are very careful to follow guidelines and fully quarantine when we inevitably get hit by it, to keep our staff and customers safe. Salem is also very conscious of public health, so as COVID conditions have fluctuated we’ve adapted to whatever the guidelines of our health department has been, whether it be masks on, masks off, proof of vaccination requirement, etc.
What’s something cool or unique about your cafe you want folks to know?
As we mentioned, we run our business according to our values. We are very human- and earth-centered. During October, the busiest time of year, we were understaffed and all overwhelmed, so we closed an extra day to give our staff and ourselves an extra day of rest from the rush. Extra profits go towards increasing staff pay. And we treat both staff and customers like the wonderful humans they are, not just numbers on the balance sheet.
Nature is at the center of almost everything we do. Running a coffee shop, particularly one in a pandemic, generates a lot of waste, so we prioritize sustainability, and spend a lot of budget on it. For example, compostable, highly recyclable service items, non toxic, bulk cleaning supplies, composting, refillable glass cleaning bottles, etc. We even host a close-loop refill station for household and personal care products with MacRae’s Sustainable Goods, a retailer from a neighboring town. To minimize carbon footprint, we work with local vendors as much as possible, and ones who share our values, for example our baker, A&J King, and roaster, George Howell. All our milk comes from pastured cows at Crescent Ridge Creamery, a local cooperative dairy. The milk comes in glass bottles which are delivered and the empties picked up weekly. No waste! We bought used equipment whenever we could, to keep larger equipment out of the landfill.
Beyond sustainability, as Earth-loving pagans, we celebrate the seasons and nature in our flavors and promotions, to help build that connection with the natural world. Our Canadian Shakin’ iced maple latte and Sap’s Rising sarsaparilla soda are tributes to the end of winter when the sap runs in the trees up here in the Northeast, and we can make syrup!
Is there a community organization or charity you’d like to shout-out as part of this feature?
NAGLY (North Shore Alliance for GLBTQ+ Youth) is an incredible organization whose work educates, and empowers GLBTQ+ youth; Salem Coast Soundwatch, which works to keep the ocean and waterways in this area clean and sustainable. And Salem Community Gardens, which makes growing veggies and fresh food, accessible to residents.
Photos of Odd Meter Coffee by Perry Grzela, used with permission