In the year since husband-and-wife team Alfredo Tinozo and Laura Leonardi opened the doors of the Monkey Cup, the little café has become a pillar of the Hamilton Heights neighborhood in Harlem. It’s a community gathering spot, a haven for people seeking great coffee, and an unpretentious learning ground for anyone curious about what makes a quality cup. When the shop celebrated its first birthday just a couple of weeks ago, the store was teeming with people stopping by to congratulate the owners. Many brought flowers.“It was so overwhelming seeing that people really care about the café,” Laura said. But she wasn’t surprised. “We’re pretty much a sensation around here. I think if you do something with love, you receive love back."
And it shows. From the handmade chalkboard that customers brought Laura and Alfredo when their original one broke, to the number of passersby who stop to talk to them when they're sitting outside, there’s no doubt that the Monkey Cup is beloved by the community.
Opening their own café wasn’t always the plan for Laura and Alfredo. In fact, it happened almost spontaneously. They moved to Harlem six years ago from Miami when Alfredo, an opera singer, received a scholarship to attend CUNY. The couple loved their new neighborhood, but they were frustrated at the unavailability of a good cup of coffee. Both originally from Venezuela, they grew up on the stuff: “I was drinking coffee since I was five, six years old. Not even early in the morning: at dinner!” Laura laughs. “It’s normal there. So we really know our good coffee from bad coffee.”
Troops of children pass the café on their way to and from school, and for this reason Laura and Alfredo were inspired to brighten up the outside of their storefront. They built a small wooden fence around the tree on the sidewalk in front of the Monkey Cup and planted sunflowers.
Noticing the effort Laura and Alfredo were making to dress up their sliver of the sidewalk, the Audubon Project approached them and asked if they would be open to having a mural of birds painted on their roll-down metal security gate—so that when children passed by early in the morning, before they opened, that’s what they would see. “But we don’t have a gate—so we convinced the whole block to get their gates painted by Audubon,” Laura says.
She and Alfredo have the same priorities that the founders of Irving Farm, Steve and David, had when they opened their first coffee shop twenty years ago: providing quality products and fostering community in the neighborhood. But another big part of their operation is their dedication to demystifying the brewing techniques they use. Kyoto drip cold brew coffee makers are on display in wooden frames, and the rest of their brewing equipment faces outward from behind the counter. Curious customers can watch the barista prepare their drinks and ask questions—which they often do. The customers at the Monkey Cup are highly inquisitive, which Laura and Alfredo love, even if it means learning to have extra patience when the café is busy. “It’s about sharing the knowledge and the love of coffee,” she says.
Words and Photos by Sophia Pizzo
In Jill Lindsey’s eponymous store, her personal touch is immediately evident. From her own clothes adorning the racks, to the furniture she designed herself, everything is made with love and an attention to detail. The store sells apparel, gifts and jewelry, features a café and “secret garden” in the back, and includes a lower floor dedicated to wellness treatments.
A fashion designer by trade, Jill opened her Fort Greene store in 2014 as a way to sell her clothes, as well as to enrich the community.
“I’ve lived in this neighborhood for many years, and there weren’t a lot of options for stores or coffee," says Jill. “I thought it would be the best option to open my own store so I could sell whatever I wanted, make whatever I wanted, and I could promote my friends and other independent designers.”
Jill aspires to find a happy medium between high fashion and what her customers want. “My inspiration comes from a lot of places,” says Jill. “There’s the very haute couture, luxury gowns and embellished dresses, which is always my first love. Then it came down to, ‘What do people need?’ We need quality clothes at affordable prices, we need them made with love, and we need them to be universal…I’m basically inspired by the people.”
Jill has a passion for working with people and growing with the community. “A majority of the products in the store are from the neighborhood, which is amazing. Local designers and artisans will come here and we’ll meet with them and try to support them growing with us, as we continue to grow ourselves.”
Jill Lindsey also sells sandals made by artisans in Nicaragua, with whom she collaborates. “The sandals have been one of our top-selling products,” says Jill. “It’s amazing because we started out with just a few people making them, and now we just keep giving them business and growing with them, which is really special.”
Collaboration and growth extends to every aspect of Jill’s store, including the café where she proudly serves Irving Farm’s Blackstrap Espresso. “It’s delicious! We’ve been serving it since we opened. We love Irving Farm,” raves Jill. “It is one of the most incredible companies that I have ever done business with, and I feel very fortunate. I really wanted to have a coffee that was stand-out and awesome, sustainable, and all that goodness."
The store also boasts a calendar chock full of events, which range from kid’s sing-alongs to crafting workshops and beauty bars. “I don’t know if there’s one that’s my favorite, because every single one is so special,” says Jill. The event calendar, like many of Jill’s endeavors, grew out of a passion for the Fort Greene community. “I wanted to be able to give this street some love…it’s just nice to give this community something to do, something that’s going to enrich their lives and give them an experience. And for the people that I’m working on the events with, it gives them the opportunity to make a dream come true, or do something they’ve always wanted to do.”
Jill Lindsey has continued to grow with the community, and will be growing even further to include a new location in Malibu, California at the end of June. “I think it’s been a true testament to following your dreams and doing something with passion and love, so we’re just gonna keep doing it!”
370 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205
It’s summer in the city, which means there's a throng of tourists in a hot, smelly garbage cloud following you everywhere, your "cozy" fifth-floor walkup doesn’t feel like such a great deal anymore, and the office A/C just broke on the hottest day of the year. The last thing you need to worry about is getting extra-sweaty carrying your thermos of hot coffee around! If our team at Irving Farm HQ can do anything to help improve your summer (while you’re not at one of our cafés), it’s offering you our failproof iced pour-over coffee method.
While many cafés offer batch cold-brewed coffee, we find that the nuance and acidity that’s naturally within each coffee bean shines brighter in an iced pour-over. We do our large-batch and hand-brew methods over ice because they result in the most flavorful cup of coffee, but it’s also the most convenient method for the at-home barista! If you didn’t prepare a cold brew batch the required 12 hours ahead of time and you need your caffeine kick now, here’s how to make an iced pour-over coffee using a standard pour-over cone and decanter.
(scroll down for the at-home version)
1. Place 200g ice in the decanter.
2. Add 30g coffee (ground slightly finer than for a hot pour-over) in the filter.
3. Pour 60-70g hot water onto the coffee and allow to bloom for 1 min. Then slowly pour the rest of the water—about 130-140g. Total amount of water should be 200g.
4. Total brew time should be about 3 min 30 sec.
5. Swirl and pour over a glass of ice.
If you don't intend to use a scale to calibrate your daily coffee in grams, these directions aren't as painstakingly exact—but they're close enough!:
1. Place 8 or 9 ice cubes in the decanter (hot tip: a pint-sized mason jar, Pyrex pitcher, or regular ceramic mug will also work—as long at it's a vessel that's meant to withstand boiling water).
2. Add about 1/3 US cup coffee (ground slightly finer than for a hot pour-over) in the filter.
3. Pour about 60-70ml (about 1/3 US cup) hot water onto the coffee and allow to bloom for 1 min. Then slowly pour the rest of the water—about 130-140ml. Total amount of water should be 200ml—a little less than 1 US cup.
4. Total brew time should be about 3 min 30 sec.
5. Swirl and pour over a glass of ice...and enjoy!
This is the first post of Stop Interrupting My Grinding, a series dedicated to the ongoing conversation about diversity in the coffee industry, here on the Irving Farm blog.
“The Future Is Female” is the powerful theme of the June/July issue of Barista Magazine, and we’re proud to report that our very own Teresa von Fuchs and Liz Dean were asked to contribute their insights on gender etiquette in the workplace. Here at Irving Farm, we’re lucky to have a lot of talented, passionate women in leadership positions, but the coffee industry as a whole still has plenty of room for improvement—especially when it comes to equality of opportunity.
As author Nora Burkey admits at the beginning of the article, this is a contentious topic—but she makes sure to note that equality is not about erasing difference. It’s about embracing different people’s strengths and needs, modifying antiquated systems, and perhaps most importantly, listening to your employees. As Teresa, our Director of Wholesale, says, “When someone is telling you their experience, you don’t need to argue.”
Through conversations with women from around the world, Burkey surveys how success in the coffee industry is often more elusive for those who don’t fall under the umbrella of heteronormative, masculine-performing, cisgender men. The women interviewed in the article share their experiences, asking us to consider all of the small forms of disrespect that add up to a talented, passionate, and competent worker dealing with real feelings of alienation. It’s someone on the phone calling you “honey” in a condescending tone and then asking for the person in charge, or it’s only ever seeing pictures of brawny men on barista competition fliers, or it’s your boss telling you you’re too cocky if you exhibit the same ambition and confidence as male co-workers. It’s death by a thousand cuts.
The article eschews a sense of finger-pointing by offering thoughts on what can to be done to improve the situation. Liz, Irving Farm’s Director of Retail, muses, “You need to build in support for issues like this. I think everyone, regardless of whether they’re working in retail coffee as a career or a part-time position while they finish school, is deserving of a safe, comfortable, welcome workplace where they are heard. I do think that sometimes how those issues are handled can be a deterrent for people in further pursuing a career within the service and hospitality industry.”
Teresa also talks about how coffee, despite its reputation for being a more progressive-minded field, is not immune to discrimination. “As women I think we need to be encouraging people to see things from more sides. These things are complicated. Everyone has a different threshold of comfort, and sometimes it’s OK to call me ‘honey,’ and sometimes it’s not. It’s confusing for us, too. I’m not suggesting we police speech, but it’s not enough to recognize that in our industry small companies can tend to be liberal. The smallness allows fluidity, but usually they are not big enough to have clearly defined corporate discrimination policies.”
It’s a conversation that’s only in its beginning stages, and we at Irving Farm applaud Barista Magazine for dedicating their recent issue to talking about gender in the coffee industry. Read the entire June magazine here—and also check out work by two other Irving Farm women in this issue: photography by Wholesale Representative Mayita Mendez, and illustrations by freelance illustrator/former Irving Farm barista Alabaster Pizzo.
We've got big news, and you're all invited! Irving Farm's newest (and largest, and dare we say most beauteous?) café is now open on the Upper East Side at 1424 Third Avenue at 81st Street. This 1,700-square-foot space boasts Irving Farm's largest seating area and also its largest kitchen, where we focus on creating fresh, delicious modern comfort offerings to complement our seasonal coffees and favorite year-round blends. We're proud to showcase espresso, filter brew coffee, and by-the-cup Kalita pour-over brews of our Hudson-Valley-roasted coffee at the spacious front bar. From the white oak floors to the Brendan Ravenhill lamps above, we've dressed this coffee shop to the nines from bottom to top. We couldn't be happier to be a part of this busy and taste-savvy community.
Join us for the official opening celebration on Friday, May 27 at 7am for free hot and iced coffee all day, and take in the new surroundings with all your favorite coffees, baked goods, and fresh, housemade foods.
It's been almost a year since we opened our new education & training space in Manhattan, affectionately known as The Loft. Last autumn, we proudly became the first Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Certified Lab in New York City and began offering a range of SCAA certification courses that are among the most advanced in the nation. Our next workshop is the Barista Pathway Level 2 Workshop on March 25 & 26, and below you'll find a list of all our currently scheduled SCAA classes for 2016. Take a moment to learn more about SCAA curriculum and how it has an important impact on the life of anyone looking to build a career in the coffee industry.
The SCAA Certificate programs are divided into Pathways: Foundations of Coffee, Barista, Roaster, Coffee Taster and Coffee Buyer. There are also Stewardship Programs like Gold Cup Technician and SCAA Lead Instructor.
What makes SCAA workshops different from other Irving Farm classes and training opportunities?
SCAA coursework teaches industry best practices without bias to any coffee company, equipment manufacturer, or personal preference. The courses are geared toward setting the industry standard and applying different techniques within the standard. SCAA coursework lays the foundation for any company-specific training.
Irving Farm offers intensive training for our retail staff and wholesale partners, as well as a range of classes that are open to the public. These classes, like most coffee classes you’ll find, give specific information and standards tailored to our coffees, equipment and policies. What we teach in these classes is adapted from the SCAA best practices to meet our specific needs.
What does an SCAA certificate do for you?
SCAA Educational Pathway programs are internationally recognized and respected as the premier source of industry knowledge, and the foundation of any great coffee professional's craft. Many companies state that they seek out and show hiring preference to professionals who are Pathway graduates. If you’re serious about a career in coffee, SCAA Pathways can prepare you for success!
Did you know that Certified Baristas:
- Make $4,620 more annually according to the SCAA Compensation Report, and they're more likely to be salaried rather than paid hourly
- Receive more tips (and are less likely to rely on tips for compensation)
- Are more likely to receive paid time off—and get more of it!
- Are more likely to receive benefits like health insurance and access to professional development & events
- Are more likely to be managers or supervisors
Why does it cost so much?
The classes are definitely an investment—one that will pay for itself in less than 1 year of compensation increase—so even if we can all agree that the classes are a good value, they still cost quite a bit upfront.
Consider this—if you took the entire Foundations + Barista Level 1 Pathway at SCAA Expo, the cost would be $1830 for non-members (or $1035 for members), not including the $195 fee for your Expo badge.
We are offering the same group of classes at a significant discount: $1050 for non-members and $950 for members. We also provide breakfast and lunch each day for our students. And... it's a good excuse to immerse yourself in the rich coffee culture of NYC (not to mention all that other cultural stuff the city has to offer).
- Class size is limited to 6 students per instruction
- Each class has dedicated hands-on time with the instructors
- Students use a variety of equipment in an independent setting
- Students receive individual feedback based on their skill level
- Students receive access to class materials and handouts
I’ve already taken some classes for this bundle? Can I still attend?
Yes! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us which classes you need to take. We’ll get back to you with an adjusted registration fee based on the number of classes you want to attend.
Who created the classes?
The class content for all the Pathways has been developed by Subject Matter Experts over many years. Each Pathway is managed by a committee of dedicated volunteers who are leaders in their field. These SMEs work for all different types of member companies all over the United States and across the globe. Their shared experience spans many lifetimes in the coffee industry, and their knowledge base is vast. Classes are developed over decades and kept up-to-date by the Pathways committees.
Who teaches these classes?
All classes are taught by SCAA Lead Instructors under the guidance of an SCAA Specialized Instructor. At Irving Farm we have two SCAA Specialized Instructors and three SCAA Lead Instructors on staff.
Dan Streetman, SCAA Specialized Instructor and Irving Farm VP of Green Buying
Dan Streetman is the Vice President and Green Coffee Buyer of Irving Farm Coffee Roasters. He is a certified barista, roaster, cupper and coffee educator. Dan sits on the SCAA Barista Pathways Committee, Coffee Tasters' Pathways Committee and WCE Advisory Board. Dan's favorite part of working in coffee is facilitating learning. For fun, he likes to taste things.
Sarah Leslie, SCAA Specialized Instructor and Irving Farm Wholesale Educator
Sarah has nearly a decade of coffee experience. She holds the SCAA Specialized Instructor and Lead Examiner credential. She is a Level 1 and Level 2 Certificate Barista and a Gold Cup Technician. In addition to leading SCAA classes at Irving Farm and events around the country, Sarah leads Irving Farm’s wholesale and public education program. She serves as Vice Chair of the Barista Pathway Committee and is a member of the BGA Executive Council.
Teresa von Fuchs, SCAA Lead Instructor and Irving Farm Director of Wholesale
Teresa started as a barista back in 1994 and has over 20 years experience in the food and beverage industry. Since 2008, she has been nose deep in Specialty Coffee—working with the SCAA and the BGA on curriculum development and their growing certification program. She's judged many Barista Competitions and worked with some of the best cafes and restaurants in NYC in helping them make coffee as beautiful as the rest of their food and beverage programs. She's BGA Level 1 and 2 Certified, a Certified World Barista and Brewers Cup Judge, and an SCAA Lead Instructor. What gets her out of bed and to work everyday is her confidence that there's always something new for her to learn and share with others.
Bill McAllister, SCAA Lead Instructor and Irving Farm Director of Service
Bill McAllister started moonlighting as a barista in 2010 while going to school for electrical engineering. He is BGA Level 1 Certified and an SCAA Lead Instructor. At Irving Farm he runs the Service Department and also regularly leads cuppings and wholesale training sessions. Much of his free time is spent playing with microbes, working as an assistant fabricator at a metal shop, and riding his bike. He has a dog named Cheddar.
To learn more about all of our class offerings, simply visit our Eventbrite page where you'll find dates, descriptions and more. Also be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook! We'll see you in class.