Meet The Farmers: Liz Dean

Meet the Farmers Liz Dean Irving Farm

Irving Farm’s John Henry Summerour sits down with Liz Dean, Manager of our 79th Street cafe, to discuss nature, coffee, crime, education and life.

There seems to be a formative experience in Liz Dean’s childhood, a distant memory not pinned down by a specific date or singular event, but one that exists in a dream state, floating along the liquid timeline that links one’s birth to the moment when life gets colored in with bolder lines and harder edges. Liz was born in Albuquerque, NM, where she lived until she was 6 years old. Her early childhood memories are dotted with green chiles, mountain hikes, hot air balloon festivals and hard rains, after which the toads would sing into the night as worms slowly rose to the earth’s surface. Her mom would take Liz and her sister into the backyard where they’d collect worms and feed them to the hungry toads. This connection to nature, its structures and systems, the unspoken order of things, established a lifelong relationship to curiosity and discovery.

Meet the Farmers Liz Dean Irving Farm

Liz is a seeker, which is easy to understand when you consider her father’s vivid trajectory, both personal (born in Pittsburgh; lived in Lexington, MA; moved to New Mexico; studied at Tulane and Cornell) and professional (stockbroker, corporate lawyer, yoga instructor, contributing writer for Feminism & Religion). Her practical nature might be passed down from her mother, a book designer at Columbia University Press, who was raised by immigrant parents escaping North Korea and settling in Missouri—at the suggestion of an American colonel—where they reared seven children.

Meet the Farmers Liz Dean Irving Farm

When Liz moved from New Mexico to Ithaca, the worms and toads were replaced by crayfish and neighboring forests inhabited by Romanian and Polish farmers who would catch rabbits with their bare hands to share with Liz and her sister. Conversation in the Dean household circled around philosophy, spirituality and the social responsibility of privilege, while the rooms bustled with dogs, cats, guinea pigs, birds, frogs (one of which is still living and nearly 20-years-old) and a diaper-wearing duck that was in love with their 120 lb German Shepherd. She started riding horses and participating in eventing. She began drinking coffee in high school because that’s what adults did. Her determination to achieve led her to the hallowed campus of Mount Holyoke where she majored in Sociology and Philosophy. It was at Rao’s Coffee, in the Holyoke library atrium (modeled after the Medici Library in Florence, Italy), that she began to understand coffee as a meeting ground, a tool for discussion and debate, an experience that is linked to community and aesthetics as much as flavor.

Her ideals brought her to New York City to participate in the Teach For America program where she led high school ESL classes for two years, but after she was asked to give passing grades to absentee students just to keep them moving through the system (among many other institutional compromises which prioritized numbers over learning) the disillusionment proved too great. Liz began walking dogs in an effort to simplify her life and reconnect to a love of animals. Two of her clients, a pit bull and a Bernese Mountain puppy, lived in Gramercy Park, and even though she was walking up to eight dogs, she was having trouble making ends meet. A friend recommended that she check out 71 Irving Place for good coffee, and she quickly developed a ritual of ordering a small coffee and bagel with butter which would constitute her breakfast and lunch for the day. It wasn’t long before she heard they were hiring…

Meet the Farmers Liz Dean Irving Farm

It’s not unusual for customers to cross the line and start working behind the counter, nor is it odd for your average barista to possess countless stories and complex histories as she crafts your drink. What’s unusual is that the coffee industry is no longer a pit stop for people who are trying to figure out the next step. Liz is now managing our 79th Street cafe where she’s vigilant about sourcing local, quality ingredients. She attends community board meetings to create a bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue. She travels to barista competitions all over the country. She even helps one of her regulars by walking his dog. Most unexpectedly, she recently worked with the NYPD to apprehend neighborhood thieves, going above and beyond her duties as the manager of a coffee shop.

Sometimes life can seem like a collection of disparate puzzle pieces, lacking a cohesive or linear structure, but Liz’s journey is the embodiment of existence as a work in progress, each experience informing the next, the collective whole reflecting a deep engagement with exploration and the application of lessons learned.

Meet the Farmers Liz Dean Irving Farm

This summer she was sitting outside the cafe taking a break from payroll, and for a moment she looked off, quietly considering a thought, and then she said, “I like to feel like I’m part of something,” calling to mind the image of her pinching those wet, wriggling bodies and extending them to the open, croaking mouths in that New Mexico night, making a direct link to the substance of life, the song of survival.

Faryl’s Fabulous Gluten-Free Granola Growlers

Irving Farm Coffee Granola Growlers

We’re thrilled to unveil our beautiful, refillable granola growlers, available for purchase at any of our Manhattan cafes. You can take home our homemade gluten-free granola—a crunchy dream featuring pecan halves and toasted coconut—in a stylish 14.5 oz. Weck Jar for $16. (And you can bring your empty jar back for a $3 discount on a refill.)

There’s nothing better than discovering talent within the Irving “Farmily” and helping employees develop new ways to shine. Read on to discover how an Irving Farm regular turned bad fortune into a delicious opportunity and became a self-made baking success!
Irving Farm Coffee Granola Growler

Faryl Amadeus did not grow up in the kitchen. Born in Kentucky and adopted into a liberal Jewish family in Brooklyn (she likens her father to Columbo), she danced with the Joffrey Ballet as a child before studying visual arts at New York’s esteemed LaGuardia High School. A lead role in A Chorus Line led her to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she trained at the Experimental Theatre Wing and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. At this point, baking was the furthest thing from her mind.

Flash forward to the last couple of years. Faryl was cast by Lynne Ramsay, one of the most admired young directors in international cinema, to portray a bad guy (and a boy) in a major film starring Natalie Portman. The production fell apart in spectacular fashion. Actors dropped out. Scripts were rewritten. Directors got replaced. Faryl’s role was cut, so she returned to New York, heartbroken and needing to figure out employment. Her husband (a TV writer whom she detested when they were kids but wound up marrying after four proposals) had been working out of our 79th Street cafe where they were neighborhood regulars. When she overheard that an employee was leaving, she jumped at the opportunity and wound up making sandwiches and baking biscuits with almost no prior experience.

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Around this time, Faryl decided to adopt a strict gluten-free diet as an experiment. One day, she was craving granola, so she researched multiple recipes, mulled over the science of taste and texture, dreamed up her ideal flavor combination, and wound up crafting some of the tastiest granola in NYC. She was so pleased with the results (as were the customers) she expanded her gluten-free explorations into a whole line of sweet treats, including the most decadent, slap-yo-mama-delicious dark chocolate brownies ever.

Irving Farm Coffee Granola Growlers

Photo courtesy of @farylamadeus on Instagram.

And the baking provided a welcome contrast to the ups and downs of a career in the arts. There’s a meditative quality to mixing the ingredients (beauty tip: Faryl uses the granola’s wet mixture as a moisturizer and exfoliant) and an instant gratification to having people enjoy her product (especially parents of gluten-free children). She can audition during the day and bake in the evening. Eventually she’d love to have an open bakery space where she can work while interacting with customers.

If you don’t catch her at the 79th Street cafe running up the stairs while balancing six trays of granola, or on the soccer field representing Irving Farm in the Coffee Kickball League, she just might be upstate where she and her husband are building a house on an old dairy farm. The Faryl Amadeus Adventure Train just won’t quit!

Faryl Amadeus Irving Farm Coffee Granola Growlers

Photo courtesy of @farylamadeus on Instagram.

Perhaps a serving of her granola will give you the extra pep to have your own adventures. Life has a funny way of opening unexpected doors. It’s up to us to dance on through.

Hot Off the Presses at Daily Press Coffee

Daily Press Coffee Bed-Stuy

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.

Daily Press Coffee Bed-Stuy

So 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.

Daily Press Coffee Bed-Stuy

I’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 Coffee Williamsburg

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 Press Coffee Bed-Stuy

So 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.

Meet the Regulars: Kenie (and C)

Kenie and Catherine Richards, who began their love affair at Irving Farm.

Kenie and Catherine Richards, who began their love affair at Irving Farm.

We recently learned of an Irving Farm love story from Kenie Richards, who is a regular at our 79th Street cafe and soon relocating to Seattle. We’re sad to see her go but we firmly believe, “Once a regular, always a regular.” Next time you visit one of our cafes, take a moment to look around and consider that couple chatting in the corner, or those ladies out front standing and crying over their bikes. Something extraordinary could be taking place. Good things happen over coffee…

Occupation:
Director, Content Marketing at Teach For America

Hometown:
New Port Richey, FL

Other places you think you could live:
Seattle—at least I hope I can live there. We’re moving on September 8!

Name of spouse:
Catherine Richards —I like to call her C.

Names/breed of “kids”:
We have two handsome men in our life—our sons, Sir Estherhouse and Kevin Bacon. (Both Boston Terriers. Both dapper in bow ties.)

Favorite/standard drink at Irving Farm:
My go-to drink is a simple cup of black coffee—but a drink I like to treat myself to once in a while is a soy latte, either iced or hot (depending on the season).

Item you have to resist (or treat yourself to) at Irving Farm:
Biscuits!

Do you brew at home? If so, what device/method do you use?
I’m typically a French Press girl, but I’m considering a Kalita Wave Dripper for Sunday mornings. There’s something fun about pour-overs (or maybe that’s just pop coffee culture getting to me).

Favorite non-coffee beverage:
Seltzer. (Fun fact: C’s vows included the line, “I promise to always bring you coffee in the morning and seltzer in the evening.”)

What did you do on your first date?
We met at Irving Farm on 79th Street for coffee after work—a dinner date would have been too much too soon, but coffee was just right. We hit it off almost immediately, even though I asked C if she was into zombies after she told me that she was wrapping up her PhD in Epidemiology at the time. Her answer was a quick “No,” followed by an awkward silence, in which I was convinced I had blown it.

Tell us your engagement story:
C and I are both really into bikes. Because of this, I really wanted to somehow include a bike ride in the proposal, but I also needed to get C to Irving Farm in a way that wasn’t obvious. (We had already asked permission from both sets of our parents to marry each other, so she knew it was coming.) I arranged a dinner with some friends on the UWS, and of course we biked there. On the way home, I steered us past Irving Farm on 79th, then slowed way down. I let C pass me and then called to her saying I had a flat tire. She rode up, looked at me and then at my tires, and realized there wasn’t a flat after all. Once she looked up and saw where we were, she blurted out, “Holy shit, this is happening right now isn’t it!?” I answered yes, started to cry, and pulled out a list of 33 reasons why we were perfect for each other from my pocket. (I had given her a similar list to explain why I loved her earlier in our relationship, and 33 is C’s favorite number.) After we got through the list, I pulled the ring out of my other pocket and asked her if she’d marry me. She said yes and we stood there taking pictures, crying, kissing, and hugging—all while standing over our bikes and wearing helmets. A stranger on the street had seen the whole thing and congratulated us, and it was easily the happiest moment of my life up until the day we got married.

crappyquality-engagement

Wedding date/location:
We got married on May 24, 2014, at a friend’s weekend house in New Paltz, NY. When we first saw the house we couldn’t believe the view—fields, mountains, and the tower at Mohonk. We fell in love with it and the town of New Paltz, and began spending most weekends there through the winter and spring. Our friends rarely used the house anymore, and we traded house and yard work for weekends upstate.

Tell us about the food:
The food was really important to us—we wanted fresh, local food, but also variety and comfort offerings so that everyone had something good to eat no matter their preferences or palate. We ended up with the perfect caterers (Main Course based in New Paltz) who gave us a harvest table full of Hudson Valley cheeses, fruits and veggies, delicious hors d’oeuvres, and stations of food for the main dinner—comfort foods kicked up a notch (grilled cheeses and sliders made in front of you, truffle mac and cheese) and a taco station with fish, chicken, and tofu (also prepared and grilled in front of you). That was all rounded out with a salad table featuring fresh green salads, but also quinoa, beans, etc. For dessert, we did have a wedding cake and cookies, but also invited everyone around a bonfire where we all made s’mores. It was perfect. To this day, our guests tell us it was the best food they’d ever eaten at a wedding. Mission accomplished!

Photo by Prisca Edwards.

Photo by Prisca Edwards.

Side note: Our wedding favors were bags of coffee—displayed next to a sign that read “Good things happen over coffee”. We also took inspiration from the Irving Farm brand for our wedding colors—we went with white and black for most everything, tossing in a pale yellow and purple (our favorite colors) here and there. I’m detail-oriented like crazy, so I really wanted the coffee that started it all front and center, even if C and I were the only two that knew the significance!

Favorite memory from the honeymoon:
We spent two weeks in the Pacific Northwest for our honeymoon with a last stop in Seattle. I had never been there but was pretty blown away by the city almost immediately. It’s gorgeous! On our second day there, Catherine actually interviewed for a job, and when she came back a few hours later I knew the look on her face said that it went well and that she was excited. I asked her, “Are we moving to Seattle?” and she smiled and I knew.

Personality traits necessary for marriage:
Courage and patience. There is a James Baldwin quote that comes to mind—“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” So, you’ve got to be willing to go all in, or you’ll never be happy. And the patience part is all about being completely willing to give up selfish habits, and to realize that not everything is on your timing any longer. It’s about staying calm in tough situations even if they lay outside of your comfort zone.

Personal heroes when it comes to successful/inspiring relationships:
Edie and Thea come to mind—their story and persistence is inspiring.

Life philosophy in one sentence:
Can I borrow a Steve Martin Quote? “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” I don’t borrow this in an arrogant way—rather, I keep it close as a reminder to keep at it (whatever it is), to be persistent, to always keep going. You can’t give up too easily or be swayed by the inevitable roadblocks in life. A line I might add—if you are that good, and you do gain attention, you’ve got to do something good with that attention. Invest it in making a difference.

Love philosophy in one sentence:
Be brave. I say this here because that’s what it takes, I think. You’ve got to be brave to be your best for that other person, you’ve got to be brave to keep trying new things together, and you have to be brave every day to love them fully even when it scares you.

Thanks, Kenie! Best of luck to you and Catherine in Seattle; we’ll miss you!

Dropping In On Cafe Volan, Asbury Park, NJ

Though it’s been a cooler summer than we expected, farm-and-city people like us can’t help but be enthralled with all things beachy. To that end, we met up with our friends and coffee brewing partners at Cafe Volan, a surf-inspired coffee bar in Asbury Park, NJ. We chatted with co-owner Paul Cali about the wonderful world of coffee paired with an ocean view. 

Cafe Volan, Asbury Park NJ

Cafe Volan, Asbury Park NJ

Tell us about Cafe Volan? Where’d the name come from? How long have you been open? What’s the vibe?

The name isn’t anything as glamorous as it might appear. Doug [Parent, co-owner] and I both love to surf and that was a big influence in becoming our own bosses. Volan is a type of fiberglass typically used on heavy long boards, which we both really enjoy riding. Living at the beach and incorporating surfing into your business can be very very hokey, so we figured a subtle name that people outside of the surf community might not even understand was a good way to do that and not be obvious.

We have now been open for 3 years and one week! Time flies when you’re having fun!!!!

I think the vibe at Volan is totally relaxed and easygoing. It’s a comfortable place where you can get some work done or hang out with friends, or hang out alone and never feel out of place. We have a really fantastic local community that likes to meet up, whether or not it is intentional.

When did you first get interested in coffee? What made you start to take it seriously?

I’d say I got into coffee the way many people did…at 1am in a diner talking about books and music and girls (the lack thereof back then) with friends. We’re pretty famous for our diners in New Jersey, subsequently diners are famous for poor quality coffee. But back then it was the greatest thing…

About 12 years ago my brother and I took over a coffee shop that was closing and turned it into this total 1960′s Greenwich Village flashback…a dark room, late nights with poetry and art and music. It was amazing but our grasp of coffee was lacking. But thats when i started to take it seriously. After that had run its course I managed a small cafe in a town called Red Bank. I took that time to pay more attention to what I was doing and what I was serving. I was having fun and the better I was able to make the coffee taste, the happier my customers were. I think that’s what really made me start taking it seriously.

What was most important to you when planning for it/building it out?

Location! Location was key. We really were anxious and excited to get a cafe going but we weren’t going to settle just anywhere. Being in downtown Asbury Park was number one on the list. From there we wanted to be slightly off the beaten path. At the time we were building out, our street, Bangs Ave., was super quiet and overlooked. To me that was perfect. The locals would hear about us and search us out. The summer out-of-towners would ask a local where to get some coffee and they would be directed to us…hopefully…which seems to have been the case in the past few years. So it worked out great.

What are you most proud of about your shop now? as its grown?

Honestly I’m so proud of everything but especially the community that it has sprouted. I think one of the moments I really felt proud and noticed how big an impact on the community we had made was after Hurricane Sandy. Power had been out for a week and once it came back on, I felt compelled to open and see if anyone needed a place to get some power and just somewhere to get away from the craziness… What I ended up providing was a place for people to meet up and figure out where to go help. At first I felt like I should just close the doors and go help as well, until I realized that Cafe Volan was being used as a central meeting point. Seeing that my friends and neighbors knew that they could come to Volan and find other people to go help really made me feel good about the atmosphere we have developed.

Cafe Volan, Asbury Park NJ

The Cafe Volan team.

What’s going on in Asbury Park these days? Springsteen still big?

There’s a ton of great stuff going on in Asbury every day. There are amazing stores and restaurants opening all the time. Our new(ish) neighbors at Glide Surf Co. and Red Moon Life & Home and Pascal & Sabine (as well as dear old friends at Sweet Joey’s) have added a lot of excitement to Bangs Ave. and our beach front is always entertaining. I think Springsteen is probably bigger outside of the borders of Asbury Park. Though most people here sure do appreciate him. I mean heck I have his lyrics tattooed on me…TWICE! but you’ll never hear him playing in the cafe. I just can’t be that guy…its too expected.

Do you really surf to work everyday?

Its like Weezer sings… “you take your car to work, I’ll take my board… and when you’re out of fuel, i’m still afloat.”

How did you first hear about Irving Farm?

Irving Farm was a coffee I only knew about visually at first. I’d seen the bags and logos over the years but I was otherwise unfamiliar. I attended the MANE conference in Rhode Island a few years back and went to have some lunch before things kicked off. A handful of coffee people were out to get some tacos and I somehow ended up at a table of strangers including the ever impressive Teresa von Fuchs. We seemed to hit it off quite well and by the end of the weekend I not only loved Irving Farm for its coffee but for its personnel as well. Getting to work with and hang with Teresa and Tam and everyone else I’ve met from Irving Farm really epitomizes the best part of this industry…the people.

What’s your favorite IFCR coffee and how did you make it?

I LOVE the Blackstrap Espresso 19g dose with a 33g yield. Mmm. I’m also really loving a V60 of the El Salvador El Molino right now.

What would you say the are the benefits of working with different roasters?

We like to incorporate different coffee roasters into our lineup all the time! It allows us to expose our customers to a number of new brands they might not otherwise come across and we get to help support so many of the great people trying to add their touch to this industry.

What’s on the coffee horizon for you and Cafe Volan?

Cafe Volan has done a pretty great job at a slow steady growth. Our approach has ensured that all decisions really work. We will get to the horizon, whatever it may be, slowly.

Anything else you want to add?

Shoes are for kooks.

Thanks!

Visit Cafe Volan just off the beaten path at 510 Bangs Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Slowing Down and Cooling Down With Slow Food NYC

Slow Food NYC at Irving Farm Training Lab

We who love coffee know that without food, there would be no coffee, because we all would have starved to death. Sustainable food, then, goes hand in hand with sustainable coffee, and it was with excited hearts that we welcomed our friends at Slow Food NYC to our Flatiron training lab last Monday for a hot summer night that was all about staying cool.

Slow Food NYC at Irving Farm Training Lab

We led a class of 14 Slow Foodies on a guided adventure of cold brewing, icy pouring-over, and of course…cool coffee cocktails, all based on our summery sweet Amaro Gayo coffee from Ethiopia.

Slow Food NYC at Irving Farm Training Lab

This was our first time teaming up with Slow Food NYC…and definitely not our last. We’re looking forward to more collabos and classes in the future, and we’ll be sure to let you know.

In the meantime, here’s a peek at our night with Teresa, Josh and Angelika schoolin’ Slow Food on cool coffee.
Iced Pour-Over (Japanese-style)
Cold Brew (24 hours)
Affogato (espresso over fresh ice cream)
Amaro Gayo Egg Cream (espresso, chocolate & vanilla syrups shaken and topped with soda water)
Purple Reign (Amaro Gayo, Aperol orange bitters, dry vermouth, grapefruit. Served neat or over ice.)
Espresso & Clouds (espresso over citrus simple syrup foam)

Slow Food NYC at Irving Farm Training Lab

We had a blast cooling off these true food enthusiasts, and can’t wait to start warming up for the next class soon!

On the Road: Lay’s Cappuccino Flavored Potato Chips

In the line of duty, we who work at Irving Farm are occasionally sent to the far reaches of civilization in pursuit of our coffee passions. Here’s a dispatch from Josh Littlefield, who came upon a highly unusual specimen while traveling this week.

Cappucino Lay's Potato Chips

Variety: Lay’s Cappuccino Flavored Potato Chips

Origin: Gas station, northeast corner of Tennessee.

Tasting notes: Essence of scrapings from crusty cappuccino cups from bus tubs all across America, potato chips soaked in airy milk foam, chemical cinnamon.

When I ate the first Lay’s Cappuccino chip in front of the gas station attendant, she asked me if I was alright and if I wanted to trade them for something else.

Also, I was offended that there was no latte art on the chips or in the bottom of the bag as the packaging has advertised.

If you don’t believe me try for yourself but I wouldnt wish this evil upon any of you.

Have a great week,
Josh

Chilling With The Pantry in Cold Spring, NY

 

The Pantry in Cold Spring New York

Coffee, to us, is about exposure. Exposure to a broad variety of cultures, flavors, people and ways of working. Our friends upstate at The Pantry in Cold Spring are right on our level: they, too, embrace the spirit of variety and community all wrapped up in the delicious flavors of every kind of beverage. We sat down with The Pantry’s Samantha Lutzer to talk about coffee, indoor cycling, popping up and what it’s like to brew in the Hudson Valley.

Tell us about the Pantry. What were you hoping to bring to the Cold Spring community?

The mid-Hudson Valley is home to many former NYC dwellers who are part of the great northern migration to the Hudson Valley. They have very demanding and discerning palates, and I knew they would appreciate handcrafted artisanal coffee. Unlike my first shop in Brooklyn, which was single roaster-oriented, I wanted to bring a library of some of my favorite roasters that I enjoyed when I lived in the city. Right now, we have eight roasters but we’ll have three new ones soon. We also have a craft beer library with over 100 types of craft beer. You can fill up our growlers with iced coffee concentrate or beer.

Craft beer at the Pantry Cold Spring New York

When did you first get interested in coffee?

Sadly, when I had my first Frappuccino in the mid-’90s. My friends in college called me the “classic reheat” because I always had a cup of coffee in my hand. I knew I loved artisanal coffee only within the last ten years, and I decided to get more serious about it when Ost Cafe opened on my corner in the East Village. And I took training classes at Intelligentsia’s training lab in SoHo.

How did a cycling studio fit into your business plan?

The Pantry is essentially the cafe adjacent to our cross-training and spinning facility. In the city, my gym was by my office. I never had the luxury of enjoying my favorite coffee shops and the gym in the same day without a lengthy commute. Total bummer. So now I can spin, get a fresh pressed juice, and then make myself an amazing cup of coffee. #livingthedream

Tell us about the other cool spot where the Pantry is popping up.

The Pantry is co-sponsoring Bazaar-on-Hudson with the Living Room, an events space on Main Street, to bring a Brooklyn Flea-style event to the mid-Hudson Valley. It features largely Hudson Valley makers, but we have some courageous NYC artisans who come up for it. We do a multi-roaster, pop-up pour over bar, and we sell our iced coffee concentrate growlers. We did a similar program for the local farmers market in the winter, exclusively with our dear friends at Irving Farm.

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Growlers of iced Irving Farm coffee concentrate for sale by The Pantry at Bazaar on Hudson, via Instagram.

Do you really handcraft each individual cup of coffee?

At the space in Brooklyn, we handcrafted French Press, but it was challenging at times with consistency and flow. Plus, you would have a super beautiful coffee, but you can’t get a lot of range on a French Press, no matter if you do a three or four-minute brew, agitate or not agitate, clean the crema, etc. When I was opening The Pantry, I wanted to stay true to my purist ideals and only do handcrafted coffee, but I wanted to experience the coffee more. Teresa at Irving Farm understood my commitment and worked with me to find the right pour over method for our needs. We do every single cup of coffee as a pour over using flat bottom drippers, including iced coffee. I actually can’t even drink French Press or iced coffee from a Toddy enjoyably. It all tastes the same, which is a shame for how unique the coffees are.

What Irving Farm coffee are you currently most excited about?

Our community generally prefers pretty comfortable flavor profiles as pour overs, so what I am excited about is not always the same as what they are excited about. We generally get less requests for fruit-forward, brighter coffees, so we sneak them in as iced coffee or on the espresso bar so we can prove the naysayers wrong. We have had a lot of different Irving Farm coffees in all year. The chocolaty, round ones are an easy sell, but I really loved the oaky Rwanda when we had it (it destroyed as an iced pour-over), and we are currently finishing up Amaro Gayo from Ethiopia.

Anything else you want to add?

Yes, I’d love for the owners of Anthropologie to come see The Pantry. It’s my dream to have one of my stores in every one of their major urban locations.

Thank you, Samantha! See you at the Bazaar on Hudson or at your beautiful cafe very soon!

A Trip to Barista Camp for Irving Farm

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As much as we like to sell bags of coffee and talk about how great it is to brew at home, there’s one thing home brewing can never replicate: the energy of a cafe, and the spirit of a barista. We know that part of creating our home-away-from-home experience for people who visit Irving Farm has much to do with the spirit of those who make up our crew–and there’s no better way to keep people engaged and enthusiastic, passionate and curious, than to surround them with like-minded professionals.

It’s this thinking that keeps us sending Irving Farm folk to Barista Camp, a twice-a-year training camp held by the Barista Guild of America that brings together all experience levels to learn from and meet one another–while receiving professional certifications and hands-on training. This spring, we sent two of our team–Ben from 71 Irving and David from 79th Street–to sleepaway barista camp in Wisconsin. When not busy having fun, or recovering from it, they were thoughtful enough to send some postcards home.

“David and I were sent to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for Barista Camp. Camp activities included things like cupping coffee and tea and milk steaming classes, and within all of that time were great moments with some really great people in the coffee industry. While we had several hours of coursework on espresso and brewing, we also had time to practice on the espresso machines. Being able to spend time with machines I’ve never seen was a real plus. Even with all of the aforementioned machine playtime and three meals a day, I’m most grateful for the human element. Having the opportunity to interact with people within our community that have such care and passion for what we do, and representing a company that cares about education to the extent that it does, made my camp experience so enlivening.”
– Ben

“It was such a memorable experience! When I imagined barista camp, in my mind I had this picture of people getting up early from bed, and going to sleep late at night, and learning all day. (In other words: boring.) And this is exactly what happened—but there was a big difference at this camp. We learned a lot of things about coffee and the art of making an excellent cup of coffee, but at the same time, the more I learned about coffee, the more I craved more knowledge, and the time kept getting shorter each day.

Lectures were given by some of the most experienced instructors in the industry, and there were opportunities for everyone who was there to experiment with different kinds of machines and equipment. My favorite equipment was the siphon, which gives a very distinct cup of coffee. Rich in flavor, but also clean, uninterrupted flavor. The espresso machines were of all kinds, including the famous La Marzocco Strada, similar to the one we have at 79, which I was able to practice on.

Though we were at the barista camp, we had an opportunity to attend a lecture about tea as well, which was taught by the best instructors from Rishi Tea company, and we also had a tea cupping session. We attended more classes, and learned more about measurements and qualities of coffee, and how to identify different kinds of flavor notes in espresso shots. We learned a lot about milk, and how different types of milks affect the quality of coffee drinks–including different kinds of cows, and the way they are taken care of, and how the kinds of grass they eat can make a huge difference in the cup. We had a milk cupping session which gave me a whole new perspective in the way I see milk.

Just as importantly, we had enough time to interact with each other and exchange knowledge. I was able to tell them about Irving Farm Coffee, which made a few people interested in coming to New York, and I got to learn about other coffee companies as well. It was nice to know that many people knew our own Tam, and I was glad to talk about her behind her back. And in the end I was able to take my level one certificate barista test, and I hope to receive my certificate soon.”
–David

To get involved with the next Barista Camp taking place October 6-9 in Rancho Mirage, California, visit the Barista Guild of America website. Registration opens July 15!

In the Kitchen: Karys Logue, Pastry Chef, Tessa NYC



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In our recurring series In the Kitchen, we sit down with the restaurateurs and culinary pros who’ve partnered with Irving Farm to find out more about their inspirations—and of course, their feelings about coffee. In this installment, our newest Irving Farmer Josh Littlefield—pastry-lover, ice-cream connoisseur, and coffee expert, speaks with Karys Logue, Pastry Chef at Tessa, one of the most exciting new additions to the Upper West Side fine dining landscape. Here’s what Josh found out about the story behind Tessa’s inspired dessert program, and Logue own path to pastry.

Chef Logue almost led a very different life. In high school, she was drawn to the hard sciences, and had been accepted to Brown University’s neuroscience program. But in the months leading to graduation, she noticed she was finding more enjoyment baking for the study groups she had organized, rather than actually studying her soon-to-be major.

She decided to forgo her Ivy League track to follow her culinary passion, and the rest is history. Shortly after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, she visited New York City one Friday for what she thought would be just a day-long trial at the restaurant Daniel. After her shift, the pastry chef approached her with an offer.  She would be granted a full-time position on the condition that she began the following Monday. Karys packed her bags, and within two days transplanted into a three-year career at Daniel, working alongside the critically acclaimed Dominique Ansel, creator of the infamous Cronut (of which I am personally guilty of waiting 2 hours in the rain for on one occasion. No regrets). After Daniel, Logue spent time in Australia as the pastry chef for Sepia, consistently regarded as Australia’s finest restaurant, winning Restaurant of The Year in 2014. It was here she learned many of the modernist plating ideas and techniques that she employs today. After returning, she held the position of sous-chef and interim head pastry chef of Cafe Boulud. Recently, Karys took command as pastry chef of Tessa, developing the menu and overseeing its opening.

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What field of pastry are you most passionate about?

For most of my recent memory it has been plated desserts. The opportunity to create an experience in an à la minute way, then seeing the excitement on a customer’s face as it makes it to the table is so rewarding. It makes it pretty personal and I love it.

How did you develop the menu here at Tessa?

Seasonality, approachability, and surprise. I started by following some classical parameters—a light, fruit based dish; a chocolate-centered dessert; and then something in between. After that, seasonality is extremely important to me. Take for example the Spring Apricot Pastiche dish. I started with something as classical as a caramelized puff pastry. We then created an herbes de provence cream to tie it to the restaurant’s French and European influences. I then added the element of surprise—taking a German Halbtrocken Riesling, we created a concentrated poaching liquid to confit fresh apricots. This, paired with a micro-basil garnish gives an explosive, refreshing experience of acidity and brightness.

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Tell us about the process of creating the Irving Farm Pot de Creme—you use both the 71 Irving House Blend and our signature espresso, Blackstrap?

In the menu I wanted to have items that all customers found familiar but then add a surprising twist. For the pot de creme, you would assume it’s just coffee plus chocolate.  Starting with that familiar combination that most everyone knows I let the ingredients such as your coffee speak for themselves then add components to further express. Candied orange zest was added to bring out the coffee’s brighter notes. The darker chocolate in the cake highlights the coffee’s richness. Then, you have the heartiness from the dates complimenting the full body of the espresso, and finally floral aspects and spices from the espresso are brought out through the cardamom.

Thanks so much for your time, Karys!

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Tessa is located at 349 Amsterdam Ave, New York, New York, 10024. They’re open seven days a week for lunch and dinner with a brunch menu so delicious on weekends, it’s very likely that you may run into Josh or another member of Irving Farm enjoying their breakfast offerings—with a pot de creme chaser, of course.

 

 

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