Function Coffee Labs explores the technical side of coffee

Photo courtesy of Function Coffee Labs

Photo courtesy of Function Coffee Labs

The Scientific Method

by Emily Kovach

Ross Nickerson possesses two of the greatest traits a barista could ask for: the unwavering precision of a scientist and the chatty good nature of a neighborhood bartender. 

Working behind the counter of Function Coffee Labs, he and his fiancée Megan McCusker’s new café at the corner of 10th and Fitzwater streets, Nickerson greets customers by name while carefully preparing their drinks: grinding and dosing the coffee on the shop’s large-and-in-charge Mahlkönig EK43 grinder, and pulling his signature “coffee shot” on a stylish matte black Synesso MVP espresso machine. Coffee shots, he explains, are brewed with a higher ratio of water and slightly less pressure than traditional espresso, allowing the fruity and floral notes of single-origin coffees to really shine.  

Nickerson and McCusker, both former teachers, met in 2013 while living in England and spent time together traveling and sampling coffee across Europe. They incorporated elements of their favorite shops into the design of Function Coffee, built out the space themselves and opened in April with the goal of creating a welcoming environment where they can educate customers in a non-intimidating way. Nickerson says part of Philadelphia’s draw was the quality of the shops already in place.

“A shop like this couldn’t work as the first one in town,” he remarks. “The scene here is awesome, but there are still neighborhoods that need good coffee.”

Location: 1001 S. 10th Street