Western Avenue – home to a craft brewer and specialty coffee roaster.

Navigation Brewing Company and Tiny Arms Coffee each approach their craft with creative energy and discipline, handcrafting their drinks with tastes sculpted for the senses. Both businesses came to Western Avenue as startups headed by artisans with years of experience in their craft, and have found a home doing what they love to do while surrounded by a community of creatives – juicing up the art!

Jon Santos prepares coffee

Navigation Brewing Co.

Navigation Brewing Co. is run by co-owners and co-brewers Bob Johnson and P.J. Mercier. While always making sure to have some favorites on tap, they are continually rotating their offerings based on the seasons or the brewers’ inspirations. The taproom is a lively meeting place where you might find musicians playing a set, an artist doing a live painting, the football game up on the screen, and kids & dogs adding their energy to the room. When the taproom is open, food trucks roll up, rounding out all that’s needed to ride the evening’s jolly conversational tides of inspiration and connection.

PJ: After roughly 6 months starting out in a tiny industrial garage bay in south Lowell we quickly to the conclusion that we were going to need a larger space to brew our beer and allow people to enjoy a locally crafted beer in the location it’s brewed. We reached out to the city for assistance where they put us in contact with Karl Frey the owner of Western Ave Studios. We setup an appointment to visit the studios and potential space. We immediately fell in love with the building and community. Karl had taken an old mill and transformed it into a community of art, craftsmanship, as well as an incubator space for small businesses. Not long after we had struck a deal with Karl and the city to renovate the old boiler room into a production and taproom space. 6 years later and we are still here.

Producing hand crafted beers is a labor of love. It requires long days, attention to detail and devotion. Supplies are ordered using as much local ingredients possible, others come from around the country as well as outside the country. We produce roughly 10bbl of craft beer weekly, that’s 320 gallons a week. We found success in constantly brewing a top quality product as well as a large variety of styles. To date we’ve brew roughly 200 different beers with about 30 of them being what we dubbed “flag ship beers” that are brewed regularly. It gives us an opportunity to be creative and allows our guests to enjoy a wide selection. We focus heavily on freshness, our beers do not last long whether by consumed by our taproom guests or in-house can sales.

Visit Navigation Brewing Company

You can find Navigation Brewing Company on the first floor of Western Avenue Studios. Their taproom is open Thursday through Saturday 4pm – 10pm, and Sunday 12pm – 5pm. Come out to enjoy the good company always gathered here or just to pick up a growler or cans to go!

Tiny Arms Coffee

Tiny Arms Coffee is paired with Tiny Arms Ceramics; Jon and Kate roast coffee for wholesale and retail, create ceramics designed for specialty coffee, and run an espresso bar all from their Western Avenue location. This duo deliver a deliciously handcrafted experience at their relaxed and sustainably sound espresso bar, where visitors can hang for a quiet coffee conversation before or after trawling the studios hallways for artistic inspiration.

Jon: Tiny Arms Coffee wasn’t supposed to open for another year or so – we came to Western Ave to rent Kate a studio for her ceramics. Then we found out how affordable it was to rent a space here – started with just the idea of roasting coffee. Because the rent is really affordable, we’re able to really grow at a steady pace.

The roasting process is so magical – you start with these tiny little green seeds or beans. Then you introduce these little beans to extreme high heats to slowly remove the moisture from the green beans to a lovely brown coffee bean. Too much gas will burn the beans, not enough and it under develops and is grassy tasting.

We roast on a Loring s35 (we’re roasting 56lbs per batch). Post roast we follow a long list of QC (quality control), try every roast we do, then we have to use tools to help us dial in the coffees – such as a refractometer to find the total dissolved solids, or other tools like moisture readers or density readers.

We supply only sustainable coffees – meaning we pay 40-70% more than the current C Market (global coffee market). This helps farmers have a better quality of life – this also helps build a better relationship. We focus on sustainably in our cafe as well – our cafe waste is 92% compostable.

Visit Tiny Arms Coffee

Tiny Arms Coffee is located in the loading dock at the main entrance to Western Avenue Studios. Their espresso bar hours vary according to the season, and the current open hours can be found on their website. You can always order roasted beans for pickup or delivery via their website shop, and take the Tiny Arms experience home with you complete with Tiny ceramics designed with artisan coffee in mind. We love having them here, Jon and Kate keep our artists caffeinated!