STORIES


Shakshuka on a Roll makes NYMag's "BEST EGGS ON A ROLL" list!

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Exciting news, folks: our original Shakshuka on a Roll was recognized by New York Magazine as one of the top eight egg sandwiches in the city! Created by executive chef Danielle Dillon and sous chef Sophia Dean, this roll is an inventive riff on the North African breakfast, normally served with runny fried eggs in a skillet. Dani and Sophia conceived of the sandwich version in an effort to combine the flavors of shakshuka and the structure of the Mexican torta. Featuring spiced tomato sauce, plenty of fresh cilantro, soft-scrambled eggs, and Bulgarian sheep's milk feta on toasted ciabatta, the Shakshuka on a Roll is a must-try.

Dani and the April 17-30 issue of New York Magazine

What the F is the Q (and how did our Roastmaster pass it on his first try?)?

Ever since the "third wave" crashed on the shores of the coffee industry at the turn of the 21st century and specialty coffee roasters proliferated around the world, the "Q" has become a common term lobbed around in conversation among coffee experts. It's short for CQI Q Arabica Course & Examination, and those who pass it earn the most prestigious credential for coffee cuppers: the Q Grader license

Developed by the Coffee Quality Institute, the Q is an eight-section coffee-grading course that ends with a 22-test exam. It's an intense, arduous week of sensory exertion, only attempted by advanced coffee professionalsLike the bar or the Certified Sommelier exam, it often inspires existential dread and sickness-inducing anxiety.  Some people practice the sensory identification test with homemade solutions for weeks prior. Some will only eat plain foods the entire week of the Q to avoid polluting their palates. There are only roughly 4000 licensed Q Graders worldwide, and not only is it extremely difficult, it's extremely rare to pass after only taking the course once. 

Specialty coffee is a young industry, so the Q certification process is still somewhat shrouded in mystery and spoken about with an air of fear and respect. Since our very own roastmaster Clyde Miller recently passed the Q on his first try, we sat down and picked his brain about it.

First, could you just talk a little bit about how you became our roastmaster?

I didn’t know anything about roasting when I started working for the company. A job opened up at the Irving Farm café in town, so I was doing sandwiches, soups, stuff like that. Then I started working at the Roastery part-time, taking care of the lawn, and I quit my construction job. That progressed into also roasting part-time, and I learned more and eventually became the full-time roaster.

How did you get interested in the science and craft of roasting?

For the first five years of working for the company, I didn’t drink coffee. Right before Dan [Streetman, Irving Farm’s green coffee buyer] was hired, in 2010, we started doing small-batch roasting and more in-depth roast profiles. And then I quit smoking and started drinking coffee. At that time, I didn’t know what cupping was—I had none of that knowledge. My version of “cupping” was brewing a pot of the profile roast and comparing it against the two or three others that I had. Everything I did was trial and error. If it worked it worked, if it didn’t it didn’t.

So you were teaching yourself?

Basically yes. I didn’t have any classes. Just trial and error, and memory.

When and how did you actually become interested in testing to become a Q grader?

This year. I thought of it as just another notch. Once the Irving Farm lab was SCAA-certified, and I knew that the Q course was coming up, I asked Dan if there was anything I needed to do to prepare and he said to take the Taster’s Pathway. So I did that.

Could you explain how the Q works?

This Q course was for Arabica coffee; they have a separate course for Robusta. It’s a couple of days of classes, with general quizzes at the end of each day, and then an exam at the end of the course. If you pass the exam, you get your license to grade coffee. The exam goes through cuppings of washed-milds, naturals, etc. and it really attunes you to what can be found in the coffee: what to look for when you cup coffee, how to spot defects, and how to use your scoresheets without being biased to certain coffees. They also teach you how to grade a 350-gram sample of green beans and pull out the defects within a short timeframe.

Did you do anything to prepare before you take the course? 

The Taster’s Pathway really helped out because the knowledge was fresh from that course. But that was it really.

How did you feel during the Q? 

I felt okay. At one point, Candice [Madison, Q Instructor & Grader] told me to calm down, but that was during the general knowledge section. Everything else was fine. I cup more coffee doing quality control than I did at the Q.

To pass, do you have to have a perfect score?

No. I don’t know if anybody’s ever gotten one! Not everybody passes it in their first week either.

Most people don’t right?

90% of people don’t.

Now that you’re a Q grader, are there certain responsibilities?

I’m just licensed to grade coffee now. I have a three-year license, and then after three years I have to do a recall. It’s not as extreme as the actual test, it’s just to make sure your senses are still on point, basically.

Why was it important for you to take and pass the Q?

It helped me out with quality control, and it taught me how to look closely at the green bean. Now I’m able to spot more defects. You don’t need to have taken the Q to do a cupping and grade coffee, but it helps. It helped me.

Did you think you were going to pass in the first week?

No!

 

Barista Magazine Interviews Irving Farm Women on Gender Etiquette in the Workplace

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.

 

barista magazine, the future is female, barista magazine the future is female, women in coffee, irving farm, irving farm women

“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.”

 irving farm, teresa von fuchs, diversity in coffee, barista magazine, mayita mendez

 

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 hereand 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.

 

Gracie's Photo Diary: Las Capucas, Copan, Honduras

Gracie Pizzo has been with Irving Farm since her barista days in 2008, and is now the company's Creative Director.

In February, I was invited to visit the Las Capucas Co-op in Copan, Honduras — one of Irving Farm’s longest-standing relationships — to learn more about how we directly source coffee. It was my first trip to coffee's origin, and it was amazing to see the very coffee we just received at our Roastery in its earliest stages of life. I had the opportunity to meet the producers and visit the homes and farms of our Los Lirios and Platanares coffees. Our super-popular Capucas coffee is a blend of coffees from multiple farmers at the co-op. Buying from Capucas supports the organization's own school and clinic, and their commitment to organic farming and sustainable community initiatives.

 

I’ll never forget this experience! Here are a few photos from the trip:

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Coffee from field to the cupping room in Copan, Honduras

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
José Francisco, aka "Pancho". Coffee Producer: Platanares

 

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Pancho's daughter, Lourdes Villeda, and her daughter.
Lourdes is a barista at Café Capucas, where they serve their own coffee.
 las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Inside Jose Luis Rivera's solar dryer.  Coffee Producer: Los Lirios
Jose Luis's daughter is pictured in front.
las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Jose Luis's house

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Exploring the Co-op

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Driving through Santa Rosa, Honduras to visit the Beneficio (mill) from which the coffee is shipped 

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade
Cupping at the Beneficio Santa Rosa, Honduras

 las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

Coffee waiting to be milled and shipped. Pictured: Dan Streetman, our green coffee buyer, with Omar Rodriguez, manager of Las Capucas

- -

photos by Gracie Pizzo (pictured second from left)

las capucas copan honduras irving farm coffee roasters new york origin beans sustainability direct trade

 2016

 

 



Now Open on the Upper East Side!

irving farm coffee roasters upper east side new york city

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.

irving farm coffee roasters upper east side new york city manhattan

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 Earth Day!

We're green with glee over Earth Day today, a day to celebrate our planet and take pride in the work we do this day and every day at Irving Farm to contribute to a more sustainable planet. From working directly with farms to encourage agriculture that's both conscientiously grown and delicious to drink to reducing our own roasting emissions and working to offset deforestation locally and globally, we've got our eye on the earth and our feet on the green grassy ground.


Globally, we seek out coffees that are not only farmed with quality in mind but sustainability. 85% of the coffee we buy is grown under shade, which contributes to carbon sequestration and prevents deforestation for coffee cultivation. We buy coffee from cooperatives like the Capucas co-op in Honduras which supports not only clinics and schools, but community initiatives like composting and harvesting honey to stimulate the bee population.

loring roaster irving farm coffee millerton hudson valley sustainability

Locally, we focus on lessening our negative impact on the earth every day, from compostable iced coffee cups and biodegradeable to-go utensils in all our stores to operating a brand new, high-efficiency Loring coffee roaster that uses 90% less gas than other roasters and planting native grasses on the lands at our new roasting space. The ingredients we serve in our cafes are locally sourced whenever possible, with all our milk coming from pasture-raised, New York State cows. Last year, we introduced New-York-made Pumpkin Seed Milk as an alternative to almond milk, which had a much higher environmental cost. We compost all our organic matter, and, of course, encourage our customers to bring their own reusable mugs by offering a discount whenever they do.

rainforest foundation coffee irving farm earth sustainability

And if you'd like to make it even more local, like in your own kitchen? Order a bag of our Rainforest Foundation Project coffee, a fully organic blend whose proceeds benefit the Rainforest Foundation, founded in 1989 by Sting and Trudie Styler. We donate $1 per each bag sold directly to the Foundation. We've donated $4,900 to the foundation since last Earth Day, enough to protect 1010 acres of rainforest, or the size Central Park. To date, we've donated more than $16,000 to the Rainforest Foundation, protecting more than three Central Parks worth of trees. 

As lovers of coffee, we can't but love the earth that gives it to us. Celebrate with us today with your conscious choices—and of course, a delicious cup of sustainably grown coffee.

20 Years of Irving Farm

Please join us on Tuesday, April 19, 2016—our 20th anniversary!—at all of our cafes for a 52-cent cup of drip coffee and a look at how far we've come!

Twenty short years ago, college friends Stephen Leven and David Elwell took a leap of faith in opening a neighborhood cafe on Irving Place in Gramercy Park. The 52 Irving Place (which you now know as 71) cafe became a community centerpoint, and as their popularity grew, so did their coffee dreams.

 

Soon the duo had tracked down a historic farmhouse in upstate Dutchess County, New York, in the Coleman Station district that was once the preeminent supplier of milk from the Hudson Valley to New York City. The two began roasting in the farm's carriage house, and suddenly twenty years had gone by in a New York minute. 

To celebrate our twenty-year anniversary on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, we're offering a cup of today's Irving Farm coffee—arguably even better and more delicious than that we brewed up two decades ago—at the throwback price of 52 cents per cup.  

Today, Irving Farm has grown into one of New York's most beloved hometown roasters with six (and soon to be seven) cafés, a bustling wholesale business, a state-of-the-art SCAA Certified Training & Education Loft, a brand new Roastery & Tasting Room upstate, and a green coffee buying program that focuses on direct relationships with farmers, sustainable practices and a philosophy of quality over quantity.

Please join us on Tuesday, April 19, 2016our 20th anniversary!—at all of our cafes for a 52-cent cup of drip coffee and a look at how far we've come!

 

In Conversation: The Coffeewoman

Teresa von Fuchs, our Director of Wholesale and all-around awesome coffee ambassador, takes the reins of the Irving Farm blog to talk about her experience at #thecoffeewoman, a first of its kind conversation about women, sexism, harassment, and gender roles in our growing industry. Watch the video below, read what Teresa has to say, and continue the conversation yourselves!

 I had the honor of participating in the first ever #thecoffeewoman event in Kansas City as part of the US Coffee Championship qualifying event this February. The idea, as event creator Laila Ghambari Willbur explained it to Sprudge, was to “unify women. To encourage them to find and strengthen their voices.” No small order.

I sat on the Professional panel with a strong group of women from different professional and personal backgrounds. (You can watch that panel and the following one about competitions in the video linked above.) We talked about everything from taking risks professionally to dealing with sexual harassment.

Overall the evening was thoughtful and fostered very serious and meaningful conversations between the folks that came, as well as after the actual event in dialogues with those who couldn’t make it.

Some takeaways I’d love to share:

Most importantly, so many of the issues that we discussed on stage and later that evening are not gender-specific—though many affect women disproportionately more than men.

We are an industry of young, passionate people and young, scrappy companies. There’s not always a clear path for professional growth — organizations with recognizable corporate ladders are few and far between. When it’s unclear how to go from one role to another role, it can leave dissatisfaction among team members. As leaders in our respective organizations, it’s important to try and clearly define the qualifications and skill sets required for each role within our companies. As a small industry full of mostly small organizations, hiring practices can often feel cliquey to someone on the “outside.” I don’t have a clear way to make all hiring and promotions fair in all situations, but there’s ways leadership can work to make processes more transparent in order to not neglect the quiet, hard workers on our teams--who are most often women--who might not always put themselves in front of every opportunity.

On the topic of sexual harassment, I heard stories from men as well as women about being made to feel uncomfortable in workplace situations and at coffee-related events. There is no excuse for harassment in any setting, period. What struck me was how often the people who felt uncomfortable didn’t even feel confident in asserting that they were harassed. Again, as an industry full of young, passionate people, how can we support each other to make sure harassment isn’t going on around us unnoticed? I kept thinking about a sexual assault PSA campaign I caught on TV sometime last year, similar to this one here. It highlighted the role bystanders can play in preventing assault, and reminded us all that the responsibility is shared by the community.

thecoffeewoman coffeewoman irving farm coffee roasters new york city

Our community gatherings and many of our workplaces can be very casual environments, and while most of us don’t want that to change, we can and should be more aware of those around us, and how they might be feeling. We can also make sure our companies have clear and specific harassment policies and structures in place for reporting incidents. And as leaders, we can make sure we enforce those standards equally so that men and women both feel comfortable reporting things that make them uncomfortable. I think as an industry, we pride ourselves on being inclusive and caring. So let’s make sure we’re putting that into effect everywhere we can.

So many of the conversations I had after our panel got me thinking that we don’t have very many avenues for general professional development as an industry. Sure we have conferences, competitions, community meet-ups, and educational opportunities around coffee, but I left the #coffeewoman event realizing we could use more opportunities for conversations about what it means to work together, and to grow in our companies and as leaders.

Huge ups to Laila for taking this conversation out of the usual media—so often these debates are had on Twitter and Facebook, she pointed out—and bringing them to an in-person, face to face space for conversation and growth, both for our industry and for the women and men within it.

Stay tuned to @thecoffeewoman on Twitter for news about more events coming soon.

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