STORIES


Harlem's Monkey Cup Celebrates Their 1st Birthday!

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."

A photo posted by @themonkeycup on

 

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.

A photo posted by @themonkeycup on

  

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.

A photo posted by @themonkeycup on

 

A photo posted by @themonkeycup on

 

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.

Cupping at the Irving Farm Loft! 

Made With Love: Talking Coffee, Clothes and Community with Jill Lindsey

Words and Photos by Sophia Pizzo
jill lindsey, coffee, irving farm, fort greene, boutique, community

 

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 lindsey, coffee, irving farm, fort greene, boutique, community

 

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 lindsey, coffee, irving farm, fort greene, boutique, community

 

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.”

 

jill lindsey, coffee, irving farm, fort greene, boutique, community

 

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."

 

jill lindsey, coffee, irving farm, fort greene, boutique, community

 

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, coffee, irving farm, fort greene, boutique, community

 

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!”

 

jill lindsey, coffee, irving farm, fort greene, boutique, community

 

Jill Lindsey

370 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205

www.jilllindsey.com/

 

Cracking the Coffeemaker

Our collaborative spirit often finds us in beautiful spaces all over the world—and in our own backyards—populated by creative, entrepreneurial people who inspire us. We recently sent our Head Service Technician and resident beer expert Bill McAllister to the borderlands of Connecticut, where he visited a...beer farm?

Kent Falls Brewing

My phone’s GPS started to work only intermittently before I crossed the border from New York into Connecticut. I was on my way to visit Kent Falls Brewing Company after Irving Farm's Teresa von Fuchs surprised me with the opportunity for a brewery tour and a takeaway of a few cases of beer. Totally helpless without a computer navigating for me, my anxiety peaked as I came close to completing a full circumnavigation of Lake Waramaug—but it wasn’t long before I felt a mild bliss at the sight of the idyllic farm that Kent Falls Brewing Company calls home. I picked the closest building—a modest barn—and invited myself in, looking for Barry Labendz, co-founder/manager of the brewery. What I walked into was this beer geek’s fantasy: gleaming mash tuns, stainless steel fermentation tanks, a keg cleaner/filler, and most gorgeous of all, a line-up of perhaps twenty wooden barrels. I introduced myself to the three-person bottling team, Barry appeared, and I soon had a miniature glass of beer in each hand. In my left, Waymaker, one of the three flagship beers brewed regularly on the farm. In my right, Coffeemaker, an experiment that spikes Waymaker with some of Irving Farm’s coffee sourced from the Santa Isabel farm in Guatemala.

Kent Falls Brewing - Irving Farm

Before launching into the geeky details of how Coffeemaker came to be, let me say: I was blown away by this beer. I’ve had several beers made with the addition of coffee, from the straightforward (and often boring) generic coffee-flavored porter/stout/name-your-typical-dark-beer to ambitious and wild single-hop, single-origin coffee, single-keg releases from the beer industry’s darling hot shots. Coffeemaker reminded me both of the Waymaker I had sipped seconds before and an iced version of our Santa Isabel, served by the carafe-ful at the IFCR training loft all summer. It may sound simple, but achieving that balance is something that few brewers are able to pull off. Kent Falls Brewing has, and it is delicious. Even without the addition of coffee, Waymaker is a bit of an unusual beer. It is hoppy and complex, with flavors more easily describable by setting a scene than drawing comparisons to other foods and drinks. Think late spring verdancy in New England, carbonated in a glass. The body sat heavy on my palate, but not in the syrupy way that I’ve come to expect from most thick beer. Genre-wise, it is an India Pale Ale (IPA) that is fermented with wild yeast called Brettanomyces, or “Brett” for short. IPAs are a staple in the craft beer section of any grocery store or deli, but still land outside the mainstream due to the heavy dose of hops essential to the style. Besides the aromatics of citrus, flowers, and pine resin, the hops bring a bitter component to the beer. Brewers often use extra malt in IPAs, which provides a sweetness to balance that bitterness but also increases the body of the beer. 

But what about this wild yeast? Normally, beer is fermented with domesticated Saccharomyces yeast. Brett is its feral cousin, five times removed, except anyone that studied biology in college would point out that these two are not even in the same family, taxonomically speaking. Brett is used to ferment sour beers or a “wild” saison style brew because, depending on the work of the brewmaster, the yeast produces acidic chemicals and a wide range of exotic aromatic chemicals otherwise absent from conventionally fermented beer. It also typically makes for a thinner, delicate beer. Here is where I cede to you the limits of my beer-geek knowledge. Waymaker has got the spicy, barnyard-y flavors that are a dead giveaway of a brett-fermented beer, but does not lack for body at all, and I have no idea how the guys at Kent Falls Brewing do it. I am certain, though, that Dan Streetman, our Green Coffee Buyer, and Teresa von Fuchs, our Director of Wholesale, hit it out of the park for their side of the Coffeemaker collaboration. Dan and Teresa did much more than drop off some beans. They chose the coffee, the brew method, and experimented with a wide range of beer-to-coffee ratios. The brew method was a straightforward decision, since we have confidently brewed hot coffee directly onto ice at our cafes for years. This method results in coffee that is strong while preserving the nuances of hot coffee that we love, particularly the crisp fruit-like acidity and aromas, which other methods such as cold-brewing sacrifice.

Kent Falls Brewing Coffee maker

Beans from the Santa Isabel Farm in Guatemala were their choice for this first batch of Coffeemaker. Dan has been visiting Santa Isabel for years, and Irving Farm is very proud of the relationship we have with Alex and Martin Keller, the third-generation operators of the farm. Relationships like this are at the core of how Irving Farm works, and so Santa Isabel is our quintessential mid-summer coffee after we have gone through all of the season’s Costa Rican and Salvadoran coffees. It is also delicious—a beautiful example of a sweet, clean, balanced Central American coffee. It simultaneously has approachable flavors of caramel and dark chocolate, but also the sparkle of fresh pineapple. It is easy to see why Dan and Teresa chose Santa Isabel for our first collaborative brew. If all of this has you ready to find a four-pack of Coffeemaker to bring home, don’t hesitate. As much as Kent Falls and Irving Farm have common ground in delicious beverages, we also see the truth in the seasonality of agriculture, whether it is coffee or grain. So, expect Coffeemaker to change as the seasons do, but trust it will always be delicious.   Join us 7pm, Thursday, August 26 at the Owl Farm Bar, 297 Ninth Street, Brooklyn, to taste Coffeemaker as well as a limited edition Cascara Waymaker at a very special Kent Falls Brewing launch event!

Irving Farm + Joto Sake Pair Up on August 19

Joto Sake Irving Farm

We love to celebrate all the ways beyond coffee that farmers, chefs, and other food and drink artisans bring delight to the world through their thoughtful sourcing and practices. And, let's admit it—we love sake. In the continued spirit of collaboration, we've teamed up with Joto Sake for a special evening of process-focused tastings on Wednesday, August 19th, from 6-8pm at our Upper West Side cafe.

Joto has been importing and distributing small batch sake from a focused portfolio of Japanese breweries since 2005, representing the various regions and styles of this centuries-old tradition, and on August 19th they'll be serving a delicious selection of their chilled sakes alongside Irving Farm's newest (and sold out!) limited edition series, the Los Niños Experiments—one harvest of Salvadoran coffee processed four different ways.

Joto Sake Irving Farm

Irving Farm Beans Roasting

Learn about the science and taste of processing both coffee and sake, from the sun-drying of coffee's cherries to the polishing of sake rice, all while sampling a dynamite grain-and-bean coffee/sake cocktail alongside beautiful cheese and charcuterie furnished by Brooklyn-based importer Food Matters Again.

Joto Sake - Irving Farm

Join us to get your beverage processing geek on, and share a sure-to-be delectable night on the Upper West Side.

Irving Farm and Joto Sake Wednesday, August 19 6-8pm Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, 224 West 79th Street

$30 in advance, $40 at the door

Tickets available at Eventbrite

Curiosity. Discovery. Surprise. Coffee + Sake!

Blue Hill, Dan Barber and Coffee Get WastED

wastED photography by Daniel Krieger

Photograph by Daniel Krieger

Last month, Irving Farm Coffee Roasters was delighted to participate in Blue Hill's transformation into wastED, a one of a kind pop-up restaurant that invited diners to reconsider food waste while some of the country's top chefs daringly innovated their way through 600 pounds of ugly vegetables (including 350 pounds vegetable pulp), 150 pounds of kale ribs, 30 gallons of beef tallow, 475 pounds of skate cartilage and 900 pounds of waste-fed pigs, creating 10,000 unique dishes over the course of three weeks. Irving Farm's contribution was cascara, also known as the skin or husk of the coffee cherry. When coffee is de-pulped, the discarded cascara is traditionally composted and repurposed as fertilizer (or ends up as a pollutant in the surrounding waterways) but it also contains a delicious mucilage with a sweet, earthy flavor and up to 25% of the caffeine found in a normal cup of coffee. The Ortiz Herrera family at Finca Talnamica in El Salvador generously hand-picked and sun-dried 150 pounds of cascara from their Bourbon plants for this event, and producers Hermann and Nena Mendez were able to dine at wastED with their daughter, Mayita, who has worked for Irving Farm since 2013. Their Talnamica coffee was recently featured in our limited edition Horchata Chocolate Bar from Raaka Chocolate, and it was thrilling to see the husks turned into a delicious infusion that challenged us to rethink the idea of after-dinner coffee. All of this was made possible by the incomparable Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, NY. We count ourselves very lucky to partner with chefs who are deeply committed to understanding and honoring the scope of how food is grown, prepared and consumed—physically, intellectually and emotionally. Dan is at the forefront of this conversation and our Director of Wholesale, Teresa von Fuchs, was able to chat with him about a few of his takeaways at the conclusion of wastED. 

wastED-kitchen_Dan-Barbe-Daniel-Krieger-Photographer

Photograph by Daniel Krieger

TvF: What was your aim behind the wastED pop up? DB: One goal was can we create something that disrupts our daily routine, wakes us up and really focuses our efforts? I really believe that in cooking (as well as in life, but I don’t give advice about life) you only become better by working outside your comfort zone. And wastED was hard. It stretched us as a restaurant and built camaraderie in really surprising ways. Another aim was to really wear our heart on our sleeves more everyday. Whether we were pushing this agenda because of environmental reasons or economic reasons, could we really highlight our use of craft and not hide the fact that restaurants work to use as much of every ingredient as possible everyday?

wastED-beef-tallow-candle-Noah-Fecks-Photographer

Beef tallow candle at wastED. Photograph by Noah Fecks.

TvF: You mentioned camaraderie. Was one impetus of including guest chefs to help spread the mission? DB: Not at all. Our intent wasn’t to inspire other kitchens but to recognize that this is what Chefs are already doing everyday in their kitchens. Actually we were all a little surprised by the interest! The crazy long lines late at night and all the social media attention. Also that we attracted such younger crowds. It feels like we’ve given the restaurant a new life. TvF: Irving Farm helped source a special cascara (or coffee cherry) preparation for the coffee course. What was your first reaction when you tried it? DB: I really fell in love with it. The fullness of the sweetness was just so surprising. It was really a revelation. I remember standing in the kitchen with Adam Kaye, our Chef and Kitchen director at Stone Barns, and being totally amazed by the flavor. It was one of my top three experiences in this whole process. I can’t wait to keep using it. I want to cook with it. TvF: That’s fantastic! We’re so happy we could share it with you. Now that the pop-up is over, how has it changed—or will it change—the menu at Blue Hill? DB: We’re still figuring that out. I’d really like to keep pushing how we can wear our heart on our sleeve. Most of our menu already addresses waste, so how can we keep calling attention to it without losing diners’ enthusiasm. I hope we keep working on it together.

Huge thanks to Chef Dan, Finca Talnamica and everyone who took the plunge with us at wastED. Stay tuned for more cascara collaborations popping up around the city in the coming months!

True Magic at Krupa Grocery

Irving Farm has a longstanding appreciation for great food—particularly breakfast-oriented foods. Our relationship with Brooklyn's Krupa Grocery, a restaurant that excels at breakfast-oriented foods as well as all foods from all the other times of day, has been going strong since their opening in April, 2014. 

Alchemy isn’t just about turning matter into gold. At least for Bob Lenartz, co-owner of Krupa Grocery in Windsor Terrace, it’s when things come together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s magical. Bob had opened Slope Cellars and Windsor Wines, focusing on artisanal wines and spirits, and dreamed of building the kind of neighborhood place where folks could come to celebrate both the everyday and a special occasion. When the old Krupa Grocery on Prospect Park West became available, he saw an opportunity to make his bistro dream a reality. Krupa was a corner store and deli for over 20 years, owned and operated by the Patel family, that also happened to feature a backyard (a form of real estate alchemy in NYC). Locals called it “Love’s” because that was the salutation of endearment that greeted everyone who walked through the door. 

Barista Rex bringing the Irving Farm Coffee to the people at Krupa Grocery.[/caption] Around this time Bob made the acquaintance of Tom Sperduto, another Windsor Terrace resident with dreams of opening a neighborhood oasis. Once an elementary school art teacher who worked summers and weekends at Eleven Madison Park, he eventually moved into food full-time, developing his relationship to “enlightened hospitality” at Clinton Street Baking Company, Community Food & Juice, and Craftbar. The third piece of the puzzle was Tom’s colleague at Craftbar, Chef Domenick Gianfrancesco, who was ready for a kitchen of his own. Together, they spent over a year building out the former grocery space, salvaging original details such as the tin ceiling which they repurposed as a bar front. It was important for them to build upon the goodwill of the Patel family business (thus keeping the name) and allow the restaurant to reflect their love of food as well as community. 

One of Tom’s chief areas of interest happened to be coffee, as he had spent years developing the coffee programs at his other restaurants. He knew that great coffee was a necessary tool for integrating a new restaurant into neighborhood ritual, whether it’s starting the day with breakfast or the finish to a memorable meal, so he put great care into selecting special coffees and overseeing drink preparation. Now, after all the hard work and alignment of stars, you can go to Krupa for an expertly prepared cappuccino, breakfast gnocchi with bacon and beet greens, or a hanger steak garnished with bone marrow, and it all tastes like it was prepared just for you, like the food is saying, “Hey Love.” On a recent visit, Bob was standing near the bar explaining the history behind the hanging cymbal light fixtures, how each one came together piece by piece, slowly making something much more special than he originally thought he was building. Staring up at the cymbals, he realized that’s it. That’s alchemy. That’s Krupa. 

Krupa Grocery is located at 231 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY 11215. They open for coffee at 7am seven days a week.

Irving Farm and Crown Maple at Madava Farms Celebrate National Coffee Day!

Irving Farm

We'll see you at Grand Central on Monday, September 29th, to celebrate National Coffee Day!

Last month we got to visit Crown Maple's Madava Farms in Dover Plains, NY, only 20 miles from our Coleman Station roastery. We're excited to be partnering with them for National Coffee Day on Monday, September 29th, at our Grand Central Terminal location. Come visit us for a special coffee happy hour, 7-9am, or at any point during the day to sample our collaborative concoction, the Medicine Man. It's the perfect flavor bridge between summer and autumn. Irving Farm Coffee

And if you find yourself in the Hudson Valley, make the effort to visit Madava Farms. Not only does Crown Maple produce a phenomenal product, but they're gracious hosts and innovative artisans. Got a minute to look at our travel pictures? We know you do.  

CrownThe Crown Maple facility boasts an enormous mural by artist Sean Mellyn that captures a sense of sophistication and whimsy. No bears were spotted on our visit.

Irving Farm CrownCrown Maple features some of the most advanced, state-of-the-art equipment in the world of syrup production. It's very common to boil the sap to remove water and increase the sugar concentration, but in an effort to be more fuel efficient, Crown Maple uses reverse osmosis for water removal.

Crown Maple TapEver wondered what it looks like when you tap a tree? It's sort of like the tree is a maple donor, saving lives every day.

Crown 5 You can tour the production facility on most Saturdays and Sundays.

Named for the owners' daughters, Maddie and Ava, Madava Farms is situated on 800 bucolic acres of century-old sugar and red maples.Irving Farm CoffeeChef Jacob Griffin and his culinary team are cranking out unbelievable food, including maple roasted almonds, maple glazed grilled peaches, a zingy maple mango chutney, and the standout - maple pearl encrusted goat cheese.CrownThere are typically only about 20 prime sap days per season, beginning around mid-February when temperatures in the Hudson Valley climb into the 40s during the day and dip below freezing at night, creating pressure inside the maples that naturally forces out the sap. The rest of the time the maples just hang out amid lush foliage and cool breezes.Crown 10 How much syrup does it take to build an impenetrable fortress?Arguably the best part of the tour... Your tongue will meet the bottom of each tiny cup. We promise you that.

Irving Farm and CrownAlong with their standard offerings of Light Amber, Medium Amber, Dark Amber and Extra Dark Syrup, the maple masters are always experimenting with something new. This is their limited edition syrup aged in bourbon barrels, an intoxicating combo that will bring you to your knees.  

Planned your visit upstate to visit Madava Farms yet? Until then, don't forget to catch our collaborative maple + coffee signature drink at Irving Farm Grand Central Terminal on National Coffee Day!

Hot Off the Presses at Daily Press Coffee

Hot off the Press

On a beautiful day in August, we sat down with Michael Zawacki, owner of Daily Press Coffee in Bed-Stuy, and its sister shop in Williamsburg, to talk about coffee, neighborhoods and how as a small business owner you’re always looking for ways to improve.

So how did you first get interested in coffee? Like most people, in a very roundabout way. I moved to Bed-Stuy in 2006. I’ve always had an interest in history and urban planning and I just loved the fabric of the neighborhood, the architecture, the history, etc. Though as a Brooklyn neighborhood, it really lacked services. I have a construction background, and at the time I was building high end retail stores and I kept thinking I’d love to build some useful retail in my neighborhood—maybe a general store or something. Then, like a lot of people, I got laid off in 2008. I was sitting in a coffee shop, one of the very few in the neighborhood at this point, and I was thinking I really wanted to open a coffee shop that celebrates the history of this neighborhood.

Irving FarmSo how was the process from idea to build-out? Well I got another job doing construction stuff, and started working on my business plan. I’d tried to write a business plan before for an idea I’d had about helping people live more energy efficiently and I just never could finish it, but this time it went much faster. I started writing the plan in May 2009 and determined to be open by April 2011. I also realized I didn’t really know anything about coffee. I went to all the shops in the city trying to get a job on the weekends, just to learn and realized there was real professional culture of baristas. The only place that would hire me was a natural grocery store. They had a cafe set up inside and though they bought beans from well respected roasters, no one there took it very seriously. I found a coffee handbook from Gimme! there and really dug into it. I remember telling the owners, hey I back flushed the machine today and they weren’t nearly as excited as I was. I also reached out to everyone in coffee I heard about and was really surprised how generous all the shop owners and community at large were with information. I also learned that there isn’t really a secret to all of this, success lies in how you execute, in all the details lining up, every day.

Tell us about finding the space and pulling the pieces together for the first Daily Press Coffee? While I was learning about coffee, I also finished my business plan and met a business partner. That really helped get things moving. We saw the space on Franklin in November or December of 2010 and opened April 28, 2011.  I learned a lot of lessons along the way.

Irving Farm Coffee RoastersI’ve heard some stories about the demo and build-out, you did most of the work yourself? No, I was working on a construction job at the time, project managing for an energy efficiency company in the South Bronx, but I’d come in after work and keep up the work till 10 or 11 at night and help keep things moving on weekends. The space was a beauty supply shop, but when we started ripping it out we found a second false ceiling above the first and it was actually connected to the walls. It was like a big steel box, not sure I want to know what it was for. We had to burn out that ceiling with torches. We found a lot of other strange stuff under the floor, and in the walls. My favorite was a subway ticket inside the wall. And I still find interesting relics when I’m doing anything in the backyard.

I love the framed subway ticket! Is that part of how you use the space to pay homage to the history of the neighborhood? Yes! When I was still in the researching phase I spent a lot of time at the NY Public Library searching historical facts about the neighborhood, businesses in the area, etc. I learned that the Teddy Bear was invented in Bed-Stuy by a party store on Tompkins. And I was also very specific about the cafe being in Bed-Stuy, not Clinton Hill. We stock a book in the shop from the Images of America History series just on Bedford-Stuyvesant.It’s one of my inspirations.

What did you want to do differently when  you decided it was time to open the second shop? Build adequate bar space! It was nice to start from scratch and really think a space through in terms of improving the customer experience, the staff’s work flow. I mean there could always be more space behind the bar or for storage, but it was nice to take what we learned from Bed-Stuy and apply it to a totally new space. Really start from the dust and the beams. The build out took a little longer than planned and we did a lot more detailed finishing touches, so we didn’t open until November 2013.

Daily Press

How did you first learn about Irving Farm? From the beginning I wanted to work with as many local companies as possible. After the first year we started doing our guest roaster program, it was great to meet new companies and be able to still engage in changes and developments happening in the coffee world. I first heard about Irving Farm then, I really loved their coffee and all the people I met from the company. About the time we started working on the second shop I realized it was time to make a change and improve our house coffee and espresso as well. I reached out to Irving Farm and we’ve been using them as our primary roaster since the beginning of this year. They are really great people and really easy to work with—Teresa especially is rad. The quality is solidly reliable. And they are so knowledgeable and personable; the support on everything from technical equipment maintenance to better coffee preparation has been incredible. I had the opportunity to take staff up to the roastery and it was a really nice opportunity to introduce them to one more step in the process. I feel like they’re a real partner, not just another vendor looking to pick up a check.

Daily PressSo what are you working on now? As a business owner I’m never satisfied. If you’re not trying to continuously improve upon something, you’re dead. What i really gravitate to is building things and then maintaining/improving upon them. While coffee is central to my business, I spend most of my time reconfiguring things to make the space more inviting, easier for staff and customers to use. I can hang out in the basement of the hardware store with the guys that work there for hours, learning about different building materials and techniques. I’ve learned how to fix (almost) everything in the shop by tinkering around with it and asking a lot of questions. This whole process of opening and running a cafe, now two cafes, keeps me continually humbled. I’m in awe that anyone ever gets anything done. From coffee to small business, there’s so many pieces to the puzzle.   Thanks for your time, Michael, and for representing us so well in Brooklyn! Visit The Daily Press Bed-Stuy at 505 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238 or in South Williamsburg at 181 Havemeyer Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211.

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