Out and About Coffee takes craft java out of the shop and onto downtown Sarasota’s streets.
It was 2013, and Kansas City, Kan., native Justin Banister had just moved to Sarasota and was working in the straight-laced, 9-to-5 business world. He hated it. After a few weeks, the highlight of his daily grind was stopping by Perq Coffee Bar before and after work and talking with owners Keith and Erin Zolner about all things caffeine.
After a while, his daydreams began to percolate, and he did what every disillusioned worker fantasizes about. He left his job to pursue dreams of starting his own business.
“I was originally going to start my own coffee shop,” says Banister. “And Keith said, ‘Why don’t you just join our team?’”
Ever since, Banister, 33, has been brewing caffeinated concoctions for Sarasota’s craft-coffee crowd. However, instead of remaining behind the counter, Banister is taking the coffee out of the shop and to the people, via Out and About Coffee, which he hopes will bring the coffee-house atmosphere of Perq to the street corners of downtown Sarasota.
A mobile coffee bar, Out and About Coffee was designed by Banister and Keith Zolner at the end of 2014. With a background in carpentry and electrical work, Banister built the bar, and earned city certification as an official “hot dog cart.” He now sets up shop weekdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the corner of Main Street and Indian Place and offers sweet caffeinated relief to surrounding office workers.
“There are tons of office buildings all around me, and there aren’t any coffee shops,” he says. “There’s no place you can go, take a quick breather from your work, and go back with a fresh cup of coffee and be a bit more productive.”
Banister wakes up at 5:45 a.m. to load his coffee caravan with his slick mobile coffee bar, a Slayer espresso machine, two drip coffeemakers and one bean grinder. He gases up his two generators and arrives at his corner by 6:45 a.m. to prep his first round of fresh-brewed coffee. Decked out in a plaid flannel shirt and jeans, Banister is ready to spread his love of craft coffee to the masses.
“I definitely think it’s a risk to take coffee out of the shop,” he says. “You’d maybe have an hour at a coffee shop where you’re sitting and chilling with some friends. But the typical 9-to-5 worker isn’t going to have that much time. I’m trying to create that feeling in a 10-minute interval.”
After two months on the corner, Banister says he’s built a dedicated following. With 600 Facebook followers and more than 800 Instagram followers, Banister is spreading his love of artisanal coffee throughout Sarasota and beyond.
“I want to change people’s minds on what coffee can be,” he says. “I want them to think of coffee as not just something convenient, but as something to appreciate, like a great glass of wine.”