Located in a swanky new development in the heart of Holladay among prominent restaurants and boutiques, 3 Cups has found a home. A welcoming coffee shop with a cool, modern design serving first-rate beverages and food, 3 Cups fits right in. “I’ve grown to love Holladay,” says Derek Belnap, owner and manager of 3 Cups. “The people have been awesome, and they’re really into what we do.”
Simplicity is woven through the architecture, design and menu. The minimalistic decor against the white-on-white color scheme creates a tranquil feeling, perfect for studying or visiting with friends over lunch. Large tables and communal spaces alongside cozy booths welcome students and others in need of a workspace. Tall ceilings and large windows featuring views of Mount Olympus create space and light. There’s also a spacious patio to enjoy, weather permitting. Belnap worked with local design firm Craft Architecture + Design‘s Tristan Shepherd to create a space that is as inviting as it is functional, and with 7D8 for the branding and menus. “We came up with something that would look clean and modern, but not cold,” says Belnap. “There’s rich, natural stuff going on with little pops of color.”
Like the decor, the menu is concise, with perfectly executed dishes and tempting baked goods. “Amber Billingsley was the brains behind the food menu,” says Belnap. Billingsley has since moved on, but her magic remains. Stunning pastries are displayed at the counter. Choosing is nearly impossible—everything from the savory scones to the decadent danishes beg to be eaten. There’s also gelato. Just looking at the beautiful colors and intriguing flavors can lift your mood. With unique flavors like Orange Saffron and special collaborations with other locals like High West Whiskey, 3 Cups’ gelato is a popular treat. Order it in a house-made pizzelle cone or drown a dollop of gelato in a shot of espresso for an affogato.
The savory food options are just as tempting. “The Morning Tarts or the Avocado Toast are both popular food options,” says Belnap. With vegetarian and meaty options, the Morning Tarts are the perfect portable breakfast with an egg, sunny-side up, nestled into the cheesy tart. The Avocado Toast is also delicious. Toasted bread from Vosen’s is smeared with an avocado spread and topped with extra virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkling of dukka, a Middle Eastern mixture of spices and nuts, adding flavor and a nice crunch. The food menu shifts with the seasons. “This winter, we will be rolling out new toast specials and different food items, along with seasonal offerings like gingerbread and Meyer lemon cakes,” says Belnap. “We like to switch things up.”
When the focus is on simplicity, quality is paramount. Belnap only uses locally roasted coffee. “We wanted to stay local,” he says. “We have some great local roasters like Blue Copper and La Barba. Their focus is in line with what I want my coffee and my coffee shop to represent. They’re good at what they do.” And 3 Cups baristas are good at what they do. They are well-trained and pay attention to detail. The coffee drinks at 3 Cups are superb. Picture-perfect lattes are served with a coin-sized shortbread cookie. The cortados, with equal parts espresso and steamed milk, are delicious. Americanos and pour-overs are also available if you’re in the mood for straightforward coffee. Whatever you chose, it’s going to be good. “We pay attention to detail,” says Belnap. “We care about doing it right.”
Like most good things, 3 Cups came together through a series of happy coincidences. It’s almost like it was meant to be. “I’ve been working in coffee for 13 or 14 years. Nine of those years were with the Coffee Garden,” says Belnap. “I wasn’t looking to open a coffee shop, but this opportunity conveniently came my way, and I jumped on it.” When the mayor of Holladay inquired about Coffee Garden opening a location in the city’s new development, they passed, but Belnap saw the potential, and we’re lucky he did. “I have a great team and good support from the city and the building’s owner,” says Belnap regarding whom he credits for his success.
Every neighborhood should be blessed with a coffee shop like this. It’s a place to gather, a makeshift office, and a quiet place get a bite to eat and catch up on your reading. Families visit on sleepy Sunday mornings, when kids tuck into bowls of oatmeal while their parents get a caffeine fix along with their newspaper. With friendly service and a comfortable and casual vibe, it’s a pleasure to spend time in 3 Cups.