Curtis Zimmerman, the founder/owner of Presta Coffee Roasters, is dedicated to bringing Nordic coffee culture to Tucson, one cup at a time.
In contrast to the dark, bitter roasts, syrupy lattes and quick, grab-it-and-go focused service of conventional coffee chains, the Nordic style coffee takes a slower, more intentional approach. Great attention and care is given to everything from the origin and fermentation process of the beans to the style of roast to how and when to brew and enjoy the perfect cup.
“Really understanding the difference between America’s coffee culture and Europe’s coffee, that’s where it started for me,” said Zimmerman. “The coffee style in the Nordic areas is more community-centered, with much lighter roasts and a much different style of serving.”
Zimmerman first encountered the Nordic approach to coffee culture during his travels on the international bicycle racing circuit many years ago. But, it wasn’t until recently that he realized Tucson was ready for the subtle, delicate, craft-style brews and relaxed, community environment of a Nordic-style coffee house.
“For me, coffee in that style went hand in hand with the bike racing, but it was mainly based in Europe,” he said. “About seven or eight years ago, I started to see the Nordic approach spread, first in Australia and then in the U.S. in places like Portland and San Francisco. I opened this business a couple of years ago when I realized the time was right to bring it to Tucson.”
Presta first began in 2012 as Stella Java, a coffee cart based at Saint Mary’s Hospital. Soon the business outgrew its cart-based clientele and moved to the newly built Mercado San Agustin. Originally offering coffees sourced wholesale from fellow local roasters Exo Roast in Downtown Tucson, Zimmerman’s business at the Mercado grew to the point that it finally made sense to begin sourcing and roasting his own beans.
With the new venture came a new name: Presta Coffee Roasters, a reference to a type of air valve on mountain and racing bikes. Presta sounded clean, modern, and unique while giving a subtle nod to Zimmerman’s racing days.
With the new name arose a need for a larger space to fulfill the dream of roasting coffee beans in house. When an opportunity arose, in the form of a space on First Avenue near Grant, so began the start of a house brand of coffee and birth of their second location.
Presta’s coffee roasting operation and second retail location are in a relaxed, modern-looking space, with long, bar-like wooden tables with metal accents. The design hints at both the business’ Nordic inspirations and to bicycle culture.