Some of the best espresso in town can be found in an unlikely place: the Towson Library. The unassuming Spro Coffee stand doubles as a laboratory for its owner, culinary mad scientist Jay Caragay. The coffeemeister had been looking for a venue when the library space opened up in 2006. He's been brewing there ever since.
To Caragay, coffee is not just a beverage; it's a cuisine. In his blog, podcasts, and boisterous appearances at barista competitions, he rails against a mediocre cup. Caragay, who is 39 and lives in Hunt Valley, relentlessly seeks out the best coffee growers and roasters and experiments with homemade syrups and unusual flavorings, like tobacco. And he's just as passionate about food: He spent days perfecting his Krispy Kreme doughnut consommé.
"Jay's a world-class barista, and he's really known in the coffee world," says his friend, Baltimore restaurateur Spike Gjerde. "And yet he's virtually unknown here in Baltimore."
Caragay and Gjerde, chef/owner of Woodberry Kitchen, are planning to open a coffee-centric eatery in the city within the next couple of years.