Foundation Coffee is the first roaster in Fairfax City

Fairfax City’s Foundation Coffee roasts in small batches using beans from Ethiopia, Guatemala, Colombia, Brazil and Tanzania, among others. (Courtesy Foundation Coffee Roasters)

Government IT contractor Hae Kim has pursued a dream of pivoting to a gourmet coffee roaster with the grand opening of Foundation Coffee Roasters on Sept. 18 in Fairfax City. It’s the first coffee roaster in Fairfax City.

Foundation Coffee, at Fair City Mall at 9650 Main Street, is located on the back side of the mall, a location that’s a bit off the beaten path.

“I wanted an open space that was modern and industrial, but when our broker showed us the space, basically a 3,200 square foot warehouse in the loading dock area, I didn’t know if people would be able to find us,” Kim said. “But when I looked at other successful roasting companies, they were always located in remote areas.”

Kim, who lives in Vienna, Virginia, had to convince Fair City Mall landlord KLNB his idea would work, with a presentation, business plan and design concept.

Kim, and Foundation Coffee barista Brad Kim (no relation) began kicking around the idea of opening a coffee roaster when they met at church 10 years ago, and began taking the idea seriously when they started looking for space three years ago.

“I thought, as I am reaching my mid-40s, I felt it was probably the right time if I wanted to do something like this,” said Kim, who has no prior restaurant or retail background.

Foundation Coffee roasts in small batches using beans from Ethiopia, Guatemala, Colombia, Brazil and Tanzania, among others, for its blends. The roaster serves, drip, cold brew, espresso, cappuccino and others on site along with a modest pastry menu.

Kim’s father, Sung Kim, is a contractor who helped build out the interior, including display cases and tables. Kim says COVID-19 opening delays actually allowed them to spend more time on the detail on the interior.

While open for only three weeks (a soft launch was held at the end of August), Kim says business has been good.

“The best part of this experience has been meeting new people. The customers coming from the neighborhood and telling us how they want a local shop to succeed,” Kim said.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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