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.
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, 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!
This January, Irving Farm Coffee Roasters opened its doors to the thirsty commuting crowds at New York's Fulton Center, and we joined them as their eyes drifted upwards to the hopeful post-solstice sun streaming in from the city's most unique atrium.
Our sixth cafe, Fulton Center continues the Irving Farm tradition of a focus on quality coffee preparation, sustainable sourcing, and of course, delicious treats.
Join us on the street level of Fulton Center, where we're among the first of several exciting vendors—Pop Karma, Shake Shack, and even Moleskine. We can't wait to eat popcorn while drinking coffee and writing in our miniature notebooks, and then chase it all down with a burger. Luckily we offer "indoor sidewalk seating"—there's even plenty of room for strollers.
Inside the cafe, you'll find our ever-rotating selection of seasonal single-origin coffees, like our favorite Colombia Willer Rivera, exclusive to the Fulton Center Cafe. They're joined by classic Irving Farm blends, and you can enjoy them as espresso or prepared on one of surely the world's largest batch coffee brewers.
Whether you're coming or going, uptown or downtown, to or fro, surely your path will take you through or past Fulton Center someday soon. Come in and see us, won't you?
There's no reason to keep it a secret: Fall is our favorite season here at Irving Farm. It's the time of year when lattes taste richer, the tang of hot local cider warms your tongue, and the leaves just look that much brighter with a side of spicy chai. It's natural, then, that it's during our favorite season that we're proudly launching our new Organic Pumpkin Seed Milk, made locally by Jnana Organics in Mt. Kisco, New York. This milk alternative is packed with antioxidants, vitamin E, zinc, iron, copper and manganese. It's lactose-free, cholesterol-free and an excellent plant-based protein. It's also more sustainable than almond milk, and it's completely delicious. We sat down with Jnana's Patricia Trongone to talk superfoods, emotional eating, and how the right food can balance your chakras.
IFCR: Can you give us some personal details about your journey and how you arrived at this moment in your life, producing organic seed milks in Mt. Kisco? Where did you grow up? When did you first discover yoga and healthy eating?
Patricia Trongone: My journey into yoga and nutrition started as a young teenager. I studied yoga and meditation long before it was popular. I was later drawn to the Buddhist teachings and deepened my yoga practice at the same time, both in NYC and Japan. All lead me to self-publish The Chakra Mantra Cookbook (2000) which is a vegan, spiritually-inspired, color-coded book consisting of meditations, prayers, mantras and recipes that support the Chakra energy centers in the body. Healthy food has always been a passion growing up in New Jersey. I further enhanced my learning at both Integrative Nutrition and the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. After moving to Westchester and wanting to create a healthy lifestyle for my family, I put my background to work by launching Jnana Organics—Nourishment for Body, Mind and Spirit. Jnana is a Sanskrit word that is pronounced Yah-nah and means "self-knowledge". How did your relationship with Irving Farm begin? My business partner Gil Kernan, suggested we add organic coffees to our menu to address the many requests from our customers. We spent many months testing and researching brands and roasters. We concluded that Irving Farm best aligns with our fundamental principles on sustainability and on utilizing the highest integrity ingredients. Plus, we love the team!
Pumpkin seed milk is not included in your product list on the Jnana website. Is this something that you're producing exclusively for Irving Farm, or is it a new venture? Our small factory is an ongoing food laboratory where we work on recipes and develop interesting tastes. Around the time we began talking to IFCR, we discovered that the health benefits and taste of the pumpkin seed milk were compelling. Pumpkin seeds also stack up better than the nut milks in terms of sustainability. Today, it is made exclusively for IFCR, but we plan to roll it out in other venues. How do you see coffee fitting into your mission of creating healthy, affirming, mindful, and stimulating food options? Although at Jnana Organics we are offering Vegan, Organic, Non-GMO, Sustainable Green Juice Detox Programs, our customers regulate the pace of their cleanse. We don’t suggest that you go “cold turkey,” because giving up too much all at once may cause unwanted symptoms, such as fatigue or headaches etc. (Most of our customers are coffee drinkers.) We recommend [they drink] cold-brewed Organic Farm Brew Irving Farm coffee, which we soak overnight and add to our vegan milks to make it more alkaline. It's a big hit at the local Farmers' Markets. Lots of customers will have their coffee first, followed by a green juice. We also have experimented with ground coffee in our chocolate truffles. Made with superfoods and the highest quality ingredients, these truffles are healthy enough for breakfast! Everything in moderation, rotating your intake with the seasons and relying on your intuition are key principles. We generally eat to satisfy a corresponding emotional need and/or have trigger foods when under stress. Knowing intuitively what your body needs at any given moment helps to create balance.
Most coffee lovers are new to pumpkin seed milk. What do they need to know? Pumpkin seeds are a healthy, superfood non-dairy alternative with a smooth and creamy texture, that doesn’t curdle or separate in a coffee beverage. Pumpkin seeds are packed with antioxidants and provide a great source of all the different types of Vitamin E as well as Zinc, Iron, copper, manganese, and it’s a good plant-based protein. It is lactose-free, cholesterol-free and supplies the body with a good source of fatty acids needed to burn fat. It's easier to digest and more sustainable than nuts. The health benefits are truly endless. Thank you so much, Patricia! Try Jnana's Organic Pumpkin Seed Milk as a dairy alternative in our cafes and tell us what you think via Twitter and Facebook!
Last month we bid farewell to David Saileni, an Irving Farmer since 2011, who began working at our former cafe on 7th Avenue and managed to pull shifts at every single location except for Millerton, which is quite a feat. He's a customer favorite and you only need to spend a few minutes in his presence to understand why. Originally from Tanzania, David moved to Washington, DC, in 1998 before relocating to NYC in the early aughts where he began working for Whole Foods. His friendly customer service resulted in a friendship outside the store with Sandra David which eventually led to marriage, and it is this particular life adventure that is now leading him to Charlotte, NC, where Sandra is pursuing a job opportunity in the world of taxes and accounting. In an effort to assuage our sadness over his departure, here are a few things we've learned about David and his uniquely positive energy. It's a glimpse of what we'll miss, and what we've grown to love.
If you scroll through David's photos on his phone you will see clouds. Hundreds upon hundreds of clouds. He's captivated by their transient nature and shifting beauty, how they invite you to observe patiently. If you don't see anything at first, wait a moment and a shape will be revealed. If you see something extraordinary, capture it in a picture because it won't last. His prized photo of a cloud shaped like a crocodile is trapped in his old phone which got stolen, then recovered, then held as evidence in the investigation, then returned to him eight months later with the SIM card locked for 23,000,000 minutes. David recognizes that he'll be elderly and close to death when this phone is liberated, but he cheerily entertains the possibility of sharing the crocodile cloud with his grandchildren one day because, after all, even a locked SIM card is impermanent.
He also has hundreds of photos of butterflies. As a kid in Tanzania he would see all sorts of butterflies and it was only later that he realized people traveled from all over the world to see this rare population. After school he would get distracted for hours studying the variety of shapes and patterns. He would collect the butterflies with his friends and carry them to the rooftops where they would be released in a flight of winged color, a ritual that became an emblem of his own desire to see the world in its profound multiplicity, something his father got to do as a member of Tanzanian parliament.
Another favorite animal is the honey badger for its determination and resilience. Even in the face of bee stings and snake bites, the honey badger will not give up. And it is reasonable to expect that David would also brave poisonous attacks in the pursuit of his goals. We once saw him shove his arm down a clogged drain in the floor at our 79th Street cafe while everyone else stood dumbfounded by the spewing, gurgling mess. That was definitely a honey badger moment.
When asked about his secret to making such incredible latte art, he says it's all about taking his time. When he went to Barista Camp in Wisconsin he realized how much emphasis was being placed on minimizing the time it takes to craft an espresso beverage in an effort to increase efficiency and output. He began to explore what would happen if he slowed down by a few seconds each step along the way. This slight increase in production time resulted in a more relaxed energy, both for himself and the customer. He wants each customer to know that he's invested in them having a good beverage and a great experience, that he's really with them in that moment and it's an opportunity to make a meaningful connection. There is an extraordinary patience in his willingness to observe the formation of a cloud, the delicate designs on a butterfly's wing, the perfectly textured milk breaking the surface of the espresso and the gentle merging of crisp whites and silky caramels.
If David has a weakness, it's bananas. He's been known to consume up to ten bananas per day, his regular number being seven. This somewhat limited diet was only supplemented by oranges and the occasional avocado or chocolate bar, so upon seeing his blood sugar levels a doctor had to intervene and demand that he scale back. He's now down to four bananas per day, so there's hope that he'll live to see the crocodile cloud once more.
"Enjoy the day. Forget everything and just enjoy. Go out there and have fun."
This is what David says he wishes for each customer, because he knows that people enter the coffee shop with any number of worries, so his interaction with them could be the only affirming moment of their day. When he was a kid, if he struggled in school or had a bad day he knew that afterwards he'd be able to spend time with the butterflies, and that for every difficult weekday there would always be Saturday when he could relax in nature. As an adult he understands that if you hate yourself, everyone you encounter becomes a monster, so his abiding creed is, "Love yourself, and love others the same way you love yourself," and to awake with the intention to make each day the very best.
As much as we hope to convey this attitude to our staff and customers, we recognize that David is special, so we'll do our best to remember his example and hope that NYC hasn't seen the last of this lovely man. We'll miss you, David, but like a cloud or a butterfly we can't hold onto you forever. Now enjoy the day. Go out there and have fun!
Irving Farm is excited to launch First Thursdays, a new art series turning our 88 Orchard cafe into a pop-up gallery. The high ceilings and ample natural light make it a great venue for contemporary work, but the real draw is its location on the Lower East Side, surrounded by some of New York's most cutting-edge galleries. On the first Thursday of each month we'll host an opening with wine and beer specials. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop.
"Rendered from a found photograph of my dad, taken circa 1960. This image subtly combines urban and rural signifiers—weathered brick walls/rooftops juxtapose with a freshly caught carp. My father is arrested in his adolescence awkwardly posing with a prized fish—his posture functioning as both a gesture of vulnerability and an assertion of budding male ego. Binaries clash and coexist here—man and nature, austerity and grandeur, innocence and culpability, life and death."[/caption] The series aims to shine a light on emerging talent and it is our great pleasure to kick things off with Debra Zechowski. Born and raised in Greenpoint, Debra began painting at LaGuardia High School, followed by undergraduate work at Hunter College and an MFA from Queens College in 2011. Her large-scale figurative paintings are rendered from old family photographs, revealing the layers of beauty, humor and grace in working-class representation. Deb has worked for Irving Farm since 2012 and we're very proud to be showcasing her substantial artistic talents. Drop by 88 Orchard to see the work seven days a week, 8:30am–8pm, now through May 29th.
Ma on her wedding day
"Rendered from a found photograph of my mother on her wedding day in 1968. A unique clash of imagery—the opulence of a bride emerging from a limousine against the backdrop of a working-class neighborhood storefront. An older generation of faceless neighbors looks on in awe—background figures symbolizing both the past and the future. This wedding portrait is a staging of capitalist values—heteronormativity, commerce, gender hierarchies."
And please join us on Thursday, June 4th, for our next show, featuring the work of printmaker Paul Solis.
Irving Farm's John Henry Summerour sat down with Richard Lewis and Lynne Koehler-Lewis, longtime patrons of our 71 Irving Place cafe, to discuss their dual lives as DJs, their Icelandic connection, and their involvement in the incredible Dig Deeper series, a monthly event that brings soul legends back to New York City for an unforgettable celebration of music, dance and life. The next Dig Deeper will go down on Saturday, February 21st, at Brooklyn's Littlefield, featuring Georgia artist Roy Lee Johnson who will be performing in NYC for the first time in 40 years, backed by the Brooklyn Rhythm Band! Get your tickets and dig deep into this 1960s soul experience with Richard and Lynne. They'll see you on the dance floor.
In my twelve years working the counter at 71 there were plenty of regulars I enjoyed seeing. When I was in the zone on a busy morning shift I could scan a line of customers and catalogue up to thirty approaching orders:
Small black coffee flat top, Skim latte paper cup, Decaf latte cold milk flat top paper bag with handles, Tourist, Tourist, Large hot tea no milk two croissants paper bag no handle, Waiter from next door recently married just got back from honeymoon, Black iced coffee light ice topless...
I would continue adding to this list while reaching behind with my right hand to grab a large cup and begin filling it with hot coffee, punching the current order into the register with my left, grabbing a lid and topping the coffee just before it brimmed, asking a coworker for six specific pastry items, calling to the back for more cups and lids and ice and whole milk, making a mental note that we were about to run out of $1s so I needed to dump the tip jar and make change, tossing beans into the grinder to prep the next brew, the whole time maintaining eye contact with the customer directly in front of me, trying to smile and speak calmly, as though we were the only two people in the room. You could call it a ballet except there's very little grace involved. It's frenetic at best, yielding to utter chaos at the slightest hiccup in rhythm. So much of being a successful barista comes down to rhythm. While I liked plenty of customers, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have favorites. On a crazy Saturday morning with the line stretching out to the sidewalk, I could quickly review the string of waiting faces, lock eyes with Richard and Lynne, and I swear every time I would feel 1% calmer. In the coffee industry, 1% is EPIC. It's the difference between executing a very simple task, like placing a cranberry banana muffin on a plate, and accidentally fumbling the muffin to the floor which triggers the apocalypse. Muffins roll. Coffee overflows. Cupcakes slip from the sugary palms of children. Banshees howl. Glass jugs of milk jump off the counter and shatter, drowning everyone in a river of sticky, sweet calcium. I run to the back of the building and squeeze myself into the darkest, furthest corner, where I hold myself and whisper, "I can't do this anymore," over and over like the prayer of a broken man. Richard and Lynne, with their gentle, calming aura, can prevent this from happening. And they know a thing or two about rhythm.
Born and raised in Houston, TX, Richard relocated to NYC from LA in 2005, and this year marks twenty years working as an analyst for a mutual fund company covering the oil and tech industries. Lynne, who is Brooklyn born and bred, decided to walk away from a decade-long career at the Wall Street Journal to study speech pathology at NYU, graduating last year. At this point I should tell you that Richard and Lynne also have alter egos: DJ Honky and Lynne K. Upstanding professionals by day, rump-shaking sorcerers by night, Richard and Lynne had quite different paths to the DJ booth. Richard grew up playing piano and riding in the car with his mother who listened to the Kingston Trio and Broadway show tunes. As a teenager he would scour the record stores for prog rock, developing an early interest in rare recordings and forgotten artists. His first real gig was in Reykjavík, Iceland (cuz you know, that's what you do when you're nervous about doing a good job and need an anonymous, safe space to practice your craft). He flew over with a box of 45s and started inquiring at coffee shops, some of which turned into clubs at night, until he found a promoter who gave him the "warm up" slot at a biker bar from 11pm-12am. That night he played his very best soul records for an audience of two drunks who spent the entire set heckling the American. He figured it couldn't get any worse, so when he returned to LA he started spinning around town and producing mix CDs of his favorite tracks. As a New Yorker, Lynne had the enviable experience of following her brother's recommendation to pay $15 and catch James Brown in concert. She was 15 years old and this was her very first club show. Having just picked up the trumpet, this night wound up being a major cultural turning point as she fell in love with soul and early funk. She attended various soul nights and parties around town, making her own mixtapes and CDs, which eventually caught the ear of a promoter who asked her to spin in between live acts at Brooklyn's Polish National Home/Warsaw in 2001. Bringing a party from a complete standstill to ecstatic mayhem with the drop of one record became her favorite thrill. It's unclear how Lynne would have fared in the Icelandic biker bar, but in 2006 she entered a contest through Icelandair to win a free trip. She wrote an impassioned entry about why Iceland needed soul music and why she was the person to rescue them, and although she didn't win the trip, the experience made for good conversation with the quiet guy standing near the turntables at Rififi's Subway Soul Club in the East Village. The next time they ran into each other at Botanica, Richard gave her some of his mix CDs, and that was that, leading to their eventual nuptials in 2009. Another important connection born out of the Rififi scene was Richard's friendship with Mr. Robinson (also known by day, and probably by his mother, as Michael). They were interested in collaborating on an event as DJs, but New York had no shortage of nights featuring two white guys at a bar spinning obscure record collections. Inspired by concerts that celebrate music heritage, like the Ponderosa Stomp in New Orleans, they began spitballing ideas. What if they could produce live events with legendary soul musicians? Where were their heroes now? Do any of them still play live? Would these artists, many of whom are in their late 70s and early 80s, be willing and able to relearn their old hits, and then travel miles from home for their first NYC gig in over 40 years? DJ Honky and Mr. Robinson had no experience booking shows, but the concept was too thrilling, the mission too important, to not give it a whirl, and thus Dig Deeper came into being.
Their first set of shows was at the Five Spot in Fort Greene, and as their audience grew through grassroots marketing efforts like email blasts, dynamite fliers and word of mouth, the events moved around Brooklyn to venues like Southpaw, the Bell House, and finally their current home at Littlefield, a progressive arts space in a former textile warehouse in Gowanus with walls constructed from recycled rubber tires and chairs made out of repurposed cork. To this day, Dig Deeper is a labor of love. The booking of Paul Sindab is a good case study of how an event generally comes together. In his heyday, Paul Sindab performed with Sammy Davis Jr., Dionne Warwick, Wilson Pickett and Jackie Wilson. The Temptations even served as his opening act once upon a time. When Richard and Michael began looking for him, they knew he was living in Austin, TX, but had no way of contacting him. Richard combed through the White Pages and started making calls, guided by the rule of six degrees of separation, but to no avail. After years of dead ends, a friend who was a fan of the music and loved doing research happened to type "Paul Sindab" into Facebook, and voila! Paul was driving a school bus at the time and hadn't played his classic songs in 45 years. Richard was able to convince him to give it a shot and made a CD of his old recordings so that Paul could learn to sing his entire catalogue all over again. They also discovered—and Paul had to be reminded—that he had recorded under another name, E.J. Rush, so he learned those songs as well. Another friend from the Rififi days, J.B. Flatt, served as the Dig Deeper bandleader and personally transcribed all the charts for horns, rhythm, backing vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, etc. Travel arrangements were made. Tickets were sold. People came, and they danced. They danced hard, and Paul sang harder, and just like that, a moment jumped out of the footnotes of music history to become thrillingly, achingly reborn.
After Superstorm Sandy, they threw a benefit with Rye Coalition and '60s garage group The Sonics for Norton Records, the legendary label that was completely flooded during the storm. Dig Deeper also hosts Jamaican music nights that have drawn fans from the UK, Japan and Puerto Rico. DJ Honky and Lynne K can be found at Union Pool once a month, spinning records before a mass of spinning bodies. And there's more... They chose to completely renovate their apartment and live out of one small bedroom lined with multiple extension cords, where they prepared all their meals in a slow cooker. Dishes were washed in the bathroom sink. They would take pictures of their dinners as a source of encouragement. "Look what we managed to create out of incredibly challenging circumstances!" This spirit infuses everything they do, and it mirrors the lives and journeys of the artists they showcase. Dig Deeper has hosted over 50 musicians since 2008, and each time it's an incredibly emotional experience for all involved. Most of these artists were not fairly compensated when they were recording, and many were left to feel chewed up and discarded by an industry that often prizes youth, units and dollars over longevity and legacy. To be invited to perform again, to be respected and cared for, to be honored for their artistic contributions in their latter years can be a cathartic experience. After suffering a stroke, Marva Whitney traveled to New York with an oxygen tank, and even though she had to remain seated to perform, she absolutely rocked Dig Deeper's New Year's Eve concert. Lou Pride took a break from dialysis to do his show. Jimmy "Preacher" Ellis was almost 80 years old when he participated. It was his very first time playing NYC and he had to be carried onto the stage. Lynne sat in the sound booth with Jimmy's daughter who had never seen her dad perform. Marva and Lou passed away in 2012, and the urgency of this series is not lost on its organizers.
When I ask Richard and Lynne how they manage to juggle full-time day jobs with full-time nights and everything in between, they credit their love of the music and lots of coffee, which they affectionately call "magic juice". Lynne tells me that she started drinking iced coffee with her grandmother when she was 5 years old, and I'm reminded of drinking coffee in my grandmother's kitchen as a kid. I'm reminded of my grandfather playing his prized collection of gospel tapes by the Rangers Quartet. I remember the profound importance of shared experience, sensory connections that carry us deeper into the rhythm of living, of being. I think about that special quality Richard and Lynne possess, their ability to introduce calm into a chaotic environment. And then I realize that what I see in their eyes—what I imagine the Dig Deeper artists see as well—is empathy. To be seen and heard can be simply miraculous in this busy, quick world. And that's what soul and funk is all about. Are you hurting? Is your heart in pain? Do you wanna cry out? Are you happy? Is your heart about to burst? Do you wanna shake and sway and shout? You are seen. You are heard. You are not alone. Let's dance.
Join us this Saturday, February 21, at 9pm as we catch some Georgia soul with Roy Lee Johnson, DJ Honky, Mr. Robinson and special guest DJ Brian Poust. It's all going down at Brooklyn's Littlefield. Tickets here!
One of the best things about making a job out of something as fun as coffee is that everyone understands how important the toys are. We won't deny it—getting our hands on the newest and sleekest equipment sends a little thrill up the collective spines of everyone at Irving Farm, and even more so when we're part of a select few stores able to put new coffee equipment to the real-world tests of demanding NYC customers.
Our busy Upper West Side cafe got a special treat this spring when we welcomed a state-of-the-art espresso machine, the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle manufactured by Nuova Simonelli, known to many only by reputation and legend. Only about two dozen Black Eagles have landed in cafe environments right now, and we're still reeling from the joy of its quality-of-barista-and-cafe-life improvements like consistent pressure and temperature stability, energy-saving, auto-cleaning, and low maintenance.
Barista experience—from ergonomics to our ability to work better, faster—has been enlightening and humbling. And for the customers? Seeing the renewed passion we have for combining our own great ingredients—coffee we truly care about—and beautiful tools that constantly evolve, making it easier for us to showcase the inherent beauty in the coffees we're presenting. And, hey—we'll admit it. It's one hot and steamy conversation piece.
Check out the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle at our 224 W. 79th Street cafe in New York City, or on the competition stage at all of this year's United States Barista Championship regional and national events!