The Inaugural Sprudge Twenty Class of 2019: Spotlight on Daniel Brown of Gilly Brew Bar

This week, the coffee magazine Sprudge announced the winners of its inaugural “Sprudge Twenty”. (See the Instagram announcement and the winners tagged here). This class of twenty people are changing the coffee scene around the world. In the words of the magazine, the Sprudge Twenty are people:

[W]hose work challenges and excites us, from every step of the coffee value chain. It includes entrepreneurs and coffee producers (they’re often one and the same!), working baristas and cafe owners, career professionals and those whose careers are just starting, competition success stories and folks working quietly behind the scenes, leading by example.

And from the amazing list of nominees, there are two people from the Atlanta coffee scene who made the list: Sara Frinak and Daniel Brown. Sara is well-known as a volunteer and supporter of coffee events, both regionally in the Southeast, and nationally through the Specialty Coffee Association’s (SCA) USA competitions circuit. You can read more about Sara in this Barista Magazine profile and Sara’s involvement with green coffee in this Medium piece from Ally Coffee (where Sara works). (Perhaps a future spotlight about Sara may appear on this blog).

Daniel Brown at Gilly Brew Bar

The other nominee from Atlanta in the Sprudge Twenty inaugural class is Daniel Brown of Gilly Brew Bar.

Here is the blurb that accompanied the Sprudge piece about Daniel:

Daniel Brown is the founder of Gilly Brew Bar, a successful and important new coffee company based in the Stone Mountain suburb of Atlanta. Housed inside a historic 19th century home known as “The Mayor’s House”, purchased in 2015 by Brown and his wife, Shellane Brown, Gilly pushes quality and innovation across an ever-changing range of premium coffee “elixirs” featuring dried herbs, bitters, and aromatics. Brown was nominated by multiple people for The Sprudge Twenty, and in one nomination essay is described as “one of the most innovative, creative, savvy interpreters of the coffee experience I have ever encountered.”

Daniel’s nomination for this award was submitted by Justin Brostek (from Atlanta’s Read Shop) and Juanita Brown. I asked Justin if he wanted to contribute a quote to accompany this post, which he gladly agreed to do. Here is what Justin had to say about Daniel:

Daniel is, by far, one of the most influential voices in the coffee scene today. He’s proud but never egotistical, always insanely approachable and humble. He’s a trendsetter at heart—always looking for the next thing but never letting others tell him what that is—and his shop embodies that. It’s old, but with soul; fresh, but still timeless. Daniel is redefining mastery in the coffee industry—purism is one thing, but instead he chooses to tell the story of how coffee can be the foundation for art. And he’s doing all of this by serving—Daniel’s employees speak of how he’s never above the worst task in the shop. He’s built a family in a way every shop dreams they could build. I don’t think there’s another person in Atlanta who puts more love, acceptance, and creativity into the coffee scene than Daniel does. 

I profiled Gilly Brew Bar last year with respect to their inventive summer elixirs (I visited Gilly Brew Bar approximately two weeks after their grand opening). More recently, I went back to Gilly Brew Bar in March to capture some more scenes from the coffee shop as well as to sample the Winter elixirs that were slowly being unwound from the menu in preparation for the release of the Spring elixirs.

A few of the photos from the visit in March appeared in this Instagram post (with the focus on the drinks). However, this blog post showcases a few more behind-the-scenes photos with Daniel performing his magic behind the bar.

An inspiring print at Gilly Brew Bar. The “Create something” like speaks to what Daniel is doing every day at Gilly Brew Bar.

Daniel Brown behind the bar at Gilly.

Getting ready to make an iced elixir.

The finishing touch! Thank you to Winnie for joining this outing to Gilly Brew Bar and performing the pour so I can capture this photograph.

A matcha elixir.

Nitro shots!

The slow pour.

Almost ready.

Daniel putting on the finishing touches.

Chilled and ready.

Daniel steaming the milk.

An interesting story about the image below. After I captured it, I realized in post-processing that there was a chocolate drop that slowly cruised down onto the wooden ledge. On Instagram DMs, I asked Daniel whether he thought the drop was distracting (I also have a version where I cleaned it up in post), but he agreed that it worked for this particular image. I also liked it. And so this was the version I shared on Instagram. I think the metaphor here is that sometimes progress isn’t perfect but nevertheless beautiful. What do you think?

The drop that sparked a conversation.

Another elixir in the making. There were about a dozen customers this particular afternoon (who found out about Gilly Brew Bar through word-of-mouth or some other channel).

More elixirs at the ready.

A bit of a serious tone here.

Last image in the series, which I think is representative. If you visit Gilly Brew Bar, you’re likely to find Daniel smiling or cracking jokes. He takes the craft of making amazing elixirs seriously while having fun. A vibrant personality such as Daniel’s adds to the experience (in every sense of the word) that you are likely to have when you visit Gilly Brew Bar.

Congratulations Daniel on being nominated to the Sprudge Twenty! So well-deserved!

###

If you haven’t yet checked out Gilly Brew Bar in Stone Mountain and what Daniel and his team are executing there, what have you been waiting for? I hope you make the trek to sample the Spring elixirs that are now on the menu.


Gilly Brew Bar
Web | Facebook | Instagram

Address:
5329 Mimosa Dr.
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Google Maps link

Coffee and Elixirs at Gilly Brew Bar in the Historic Mayor's House in Stone Mountain, GA

Gilly Brew Bar is located in the historic Mayor’s House in Stone Mountain, GA. Husband and wife team Daniel and Shellane Brown have worked together over the last three years to convert this vintage white home into a collection of businesses; the first completed phase was Gilly Brew Bar, a coffee shop with an eclectic coffee and tea menu. Future expansions call for a restaurant under the same roof at The Mayor’s House.

A brief profile of Stone Mountain, The Mayor’s House, and the opening of Gilly Brew Company is featured in the video below.

Here is how Daniel Brown, founder of Gilly Brew Bar, described the project and its purpose to bring community to Stone Mountain, GA:

As we dug deeper into this project, we quickly realized that we are positioned between a rock (Stone Mountain Park) and a hard place (City Hall Municipality). The largest stone mass in the world sits in our backyard, and it draws millions of visitors year round, making it Georgia’s top tourist destination. However, Stone Mountain Village is arguably one of the most negatively branded cities in America. Ironically and unfortunately, this mountain has also been the canvas of the largest confederate monument in the United States. This message has been very difficult to ignore, and for many, nearly impossible to forget. The racial divide and questionable history here have resulted in an under-developed downtown area, and dying sense of community. This is where our vision steps in: We believe that this property and dream will become the catalyst for transformation in Stone Mountain, GA.

In a true sense of community, Daniel Brown also envisions The Mayor’s House to serve as a collaborative work environment for local area entrepreneurs and business owners.

I had the chance to visit The Mayor’s House and Gilly Brew Bar a couple of weeks after it held its grand opening in June 2018. Photos from my visit to Gilly Brew Bar are below.

Daniel Brown, owner of Gilly Brew Bar, prepares my order. The Jamaican flag and the Union Jack are a reminder of Daniel’s family/relatives who have called Jamaica and the U.K. home.

The drinks at Gilly Brew Bar are based on a cocktail approach (they are called elixirs). The elixirs are rotated seasonally (a selection of the fall and winter elixirs appear on Gilly Brew Company’s YouTube channel).

The summer elixir menu at Gilly Brewing Company.

At the counter at Gilly Brew Bar.

During my visit, I decided to order “The Bey” per recommendation from Daniel. It was half lemonade, half cold brew coffee. Here is how Gilly Brew Bar describes “The Bey” from its summer collection:

The Bey is our most aesthetic beverage and is inspired by the Arnold Palmer and Yonce herself. Not only is this drink drop dead gorgeous, but it’s equally as delicious. The mellow mix of lemonade, basil, and cold brew leave you feeling chic and lively. In honor of Queen Bee we’ve even sweetened this one with a bit of honey. A big shoutout to all the ladies on this one. Take some swigs of the Bey and be reminded who runs the world…

The Bey, named after (and inspired by) Beyoncé.

The coffee and lemonade combination of The Bey was sublime and so very refreshing. I had never thought that lemonade and coffee could go so well together!

Naturally, I took the Bey to Gilly’s outdoor patio to enjoy it there:

The Bey at the outdoor patio at Gilly Brew Company.

The outdoor patio at Gilly Brew Bar is dog-friendly :-).

Looking toward the main entrance of Gilly Brew Bar.

The Mayor’s House in Stone Mountain Village was built in the 1800’s and was the residence of Mayor Andrew Johnson during the time of the Civil War. After renovations were completed, Gilly Brew Bar has an upstairs area which visitors can explore and/or drink their beverages.

View of Gilly Brew Bar from the stairs leading up to the second floor of The Mayor’s House.

Summer Elixirs were profiled in the second floor of Gilly Brew Bar.

The upstairs space at The Mayor’s House has ample sunlight.

A natural look—note the moss—adorns the walls of Gilly Brewing Company.

Gilly Brew Bar interior.

Gilly Brew Bar is located outside the perimeter in Atlanta, but it is definitely worth a trip to try their unique take on coffee concoctions with such seasonal elixirs as the Bey, the Hippie, Americoco, and the Gilbert. The beautiful historical setting and the very friendly owner(s) at Gilly only add to the amazing experience there. I highly recommend checking out Gilly Brew Bar if you’re in the Atlanta area.

Also, keep an eye out on the expansion of The Mayor’s House, as there are plans for a restaurant to arrive in the space in early 2019.


Gilly Brew Bar
Web | Facebook | Instagram

Address:
5329 Mimosa Dr.
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Google Maps link

Hours of operation:
Monday-Thursday: 8AM to 8PM
Friday: 9AM to 6PM
Saturday: 9AM to 9PM
Sunday: closed