South Side Weekly Alums Raise $16K to Open Café on 61st Street

Build Coffee will be the closest coffee shop to the 1,500 people who live south of the University and west of the Metra.

By Katie Akin

This winter, two alumni will be opening a new coffee shop in the Experimental Station at 61st and Blackstone. 

Build Coffee will be joining a number of community organizations in the nonprofit Experimental Station space, including the South Side Weekly, Blackstone Bikes, the Invisible Institute, and the 61st Street Farmer’s Market. Hannah Nyhart (A.B. ’15) and her business partner Bea Malsky (A.B. ’15), both former editors of the South Side Weekly, were inspired to make Build Coffee in an attempt to make the Experimental Station more accessible and inviting to the surrounding community. 

“Right now, to most people most of the time, the Experimental Station is a locked door,” Nyhart and Malsky wrote on their Kickstarter page. “There’s lots of space for folks already working within the building to collaborate, but there’s no central hub that’s open to the public: no space to meet up, hold an interview, or swing by for a cup of coffee.”  

According to the Kickstarter page, Build Coffee will be the closest coffee shop to the 1,500 people in the neighborhood south of the University and west of the Metra. Nyhart and Malsky have been operating Build Coffee as a stand at the 61st Street Farmer’s Market for the past year as they’ve prepared their storefront.  

“We have been incredibly lucky,” Nyhart said in an e-mail. “This is a scrappy operation, funded by a combination of loans, personal investment, and a Kickstarter that surpassed our wildest dreams.” After a month of fundraising, the online campaign had raised over $16,000 to start the business. 

Aside from the usual café fare, Build will have a bookshelf where people can donate and purchase used books, as well as a space to hold community meetings and events. 

“This shop will belong to a ton of different people from day one, and that’s really our hope for this space,” Nyhart said on the Kickstarter. 

Build Coffee has not yet announced when the store will open to the public. Both Nyhart and Malsky have been preparing the space. When asked when the shop will be ready for customers, Nyhart replied, “You know the first really cold day between fall and winter when you think that maybe you should move? Hopefully by that day.”