I think it’s now official. We have a coffee shop in each quadrant of the Borough. When you walk in the doors of Mayday coffee – you are greeted by a lot of white (Alabaster, to be exact), beige, and peach. On your left is a mini-shop stocked with curated gift ideas and small-batch greeting cards. Behind that, you see the curvature of the waiting espresso bar and pour-over coffee area. There are stone tables shipped from San Diego and a smattering of plants. (More to come as Mayday is also part flower shop.) In the back, there is an event space that will soon be available to rent. Anyway, maybe it’s the peach but it doesn’t exactly feel like West Chester which, as I am to learn, is almost the point.
The goal here isn’t to bring you what you already have but to source things you don’t. Mayday owner Austin Piona, a Chester County native who spent the last seven years on the West Coast, wanted a little east meets West Chester. “It’s a bit of a West Coast vibe out here,” he told me as we looked at shelves of candles, soaps, and tiny floral-shaped sunglasses.
He also wanted to bring a craft coffee experience. Unlike Turks Head and Gryphon, Mayday is not a roaster. Instead, their focus is on the craft of constructing a good cup of coffee. “Coffee is 98 percent water,” said Austin. “So we are focused on what we can do with that other 2 percent.”
That means bean profiles, frothing techniques, house-made syrups, and high-quality “latte art.” There is a pour-over station where you can try beans from around the world. There is also a kitchen that will stock the cafe with toast, sandwiches, and bowls. “A lot of fresh and good-tasting food for the community,” Austin said.
The word “community” is repeated several times during our conversation. The name Mayday is a nod to the shop’s commitment to improving mental health, pulling both the term mayday and May, as in mental health awareness month. Mayday aims to be a safe place to hang with your friends and to feel inspired and welcomed. That applies to their employees as well. Austin says he gives priority to mental health days and providing a solid wage. According to Austin, who quit his own barista job late last year, Mayday is paying the highest wages among coffee shops in the Borough.
“If you give back to the community, the community will give back to you,” he said of his approach.
Before I left I had to test this craft coffee for myself. I ordered the Lavender-Honey Latte with house-made syrup. Not a fan of sweet drinks it was recommended I go half syrup and, with the alteration, the drink was delicious. The foam? Smooth and silky; the art? a solid tulip design; the coffee? delish. Will it replace my current go-to? It’s too soon to tell, but I was told by my barista that his specialty is a cappuccino, which is my favorite. So, I will definitely be back for that.
Mayday opens today. They are located at 123 N. High Street in the former home of Jane Chalfant.
Originally published, Mar. 3, 2023
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