You won't find Mae James at South Park's Mae James Coffee, because she's invisible. Owner Jessie Blount describes her as "an apparition of power, adventure, and boldness. She's this woman who comes from faraway lands to the west to roast coffee." Blount and Max Leinbach collaborated with Kelly Thompson, the head graphic designer at Theo Chocolate, to start Mae James and Burdick Brewery. The brewery and the roastery share a building; its industrial aesthetic, in a neighborhood of old craftsman houses, makes it look like it fell from space. (The brewery is currently expanding; they'll be making beer again in November.) Mae James works with a nonprofit that instructs coffee farmers how to grow beans desirable to specialty roasters, allowing them to make more money. Blount's degree in anthropology, focusing on global agriculture, drew her to this aspect of the job.
Blount has also worked at Parfait Ice Cream—where she earned the nickname "Colonel Custard"—but what really qualifies her to run Mae James's monthly waffle breakfast is a centuries-old Blount family waffle recipe. The waffles are thick, delicately crispy outside and almost melty inside. The "simple" waffle is served with maple syrup (the real stuff) and a globe of whipped butter. More exotic options: the "s'more," with Nutella and house-made marshmallows, and the "South Park," with bacon and apple. The one I tried was the best waffle I've ever had, hands down. The next waffle breakfast is on Saturday, October 4.