Looking Back at the 2015 World Barista Championship

Our Green Coffee Buyer, Dan Streetman, has been partipating as a judge in the worldwide barista competition circuit for years now. Here’s his inside take on the 2015 World Barista Championship, held this April in Seattle, Washington.

Sasa Sestic World Barista Champion Irving Farm

Photo by Liz Clayton for Sprudge.com.

Attending the World Barista Championships each year is always exciting, but it’s even more so when the annual contest is held in the United States. The WBC being in Seattle this year was an exceptional privilege for everyone in the US, as it was the first time it has happened on our shores since Atlanta in 2009. But despite not having to travel as far as Vienna, Bogota, or London, the trip was still a bit of a whirlwind for me personally, as I was responsible for coordinating all of the on-site judging activities in conjunction with all the things I normally do during a Specialty Coffee Association of America event, which this year’s WBC was held in tandem with. Still decompressing even now, it took me a bit longer to process, and discern what, if any, takeaways I had from this year’s event.

First, let me say congratulations to Sasa Sestic from Australia, the 2015 World Barista Champion! He presented excellent coffee, along with interesting and unique ideas that can be further explored in coffee. Most of the conversation within our industry has focused on “the new” things that emerged in competition, and for certain there were several exciting, innovative ideas presented this year on the WBC stage.

Sasa Sestic World Barista Champion Irving Farm

Photo by Liz Clayton for Sprudge.com.

Sasa’s presentation of the carbonic maceration fermentation process applied to coffee was a unique concept that I have never heard or seen in coffee before, along with Ben Put’s presentation of espressos placed into a vacuum chamber to reduce carbon dioxide and change their viscosity.

However, what especially stuck with me was Charles Babinski’s focus on systems, and producing coffee following a standardized approach. Charles did that really, really well without necessarily introducing a groundbreaking or innovative approach to “making coffee better”. As the days and weeks have gone on, I have appreciated even more the refocusing that Charles gave us, as an industry, on what it takes to produce and present specialty coffee to the public, and how we do that successfully. It also struck me that Charles was able to achieve that level of success, taking home second place in the world, without fancy new gadgets, doohickeys, etc. I don’t want to go into a detailed analysis of scoresheet lingo, but the point spread of only 5 points between first and second place means that the coffees served by Sasa and Charles were indistinguishable in objective quality by the judges.

Charles Babinski World Barista Championships Irving Farm

Photo by Liz Clayton for Sprudge.com.

In other words, all that “newness” didn’t result in dramatically better coffee, and proves that superb coffee can be made following readily accepted standards within our industry.

This struck a particular chord with me, as I continually look around the coffee marketplace and see us “reinventing the wheel”. People are continually excited about the “next hot thing” when in reality, producing delicious specialty coffee has not changed in any substantive way in 10 years—sorry folks.

What has changed is interest in specialty coffee and its availability. I often wonder how much of this energy in finding the “new” is a drive to get noticed and differentiate from competitors especially when they are only different and not better, and I fear that much of it is.

Charles Babinski World Barista Championships Seattle Irving Farm

Photo by Liz Clayton for Sprudge.com.

Because of this, I am struck by something else about Charles’ approach and conversation during the WBC that seems to be overlooked. Charles’ emphasis was on serving his customers and understanding their needs. He reintroduced to us that we should engage and LISTEN to our customers more when we are designing our businesses and determining what to serve. A wise message for anyone who dares to listen I would say, and one we try to take to heart at Irving Farm, itself a different style of coffee company than Babinski’s three Los Angeles cafes.

I hope that we can take heed, and learn to look at the specialty coffee drinker as an ally in the pursuit of quality; learning, understanding, and delivering what they want to drink will drive value in the chain for everyone. At least I believe that it will a lot more than innovation for innovation’s own sake, i.e without significant objective and indisputable quality gains.

I was particularly inspired by Charles’ message, and look forward to seeing where both innovation, and consistency, take coffee in the future.

First Thursdays


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.

Daddy, fish 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.

Daddy, fish
“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.”

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.

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.



The Road To The Brewers Cup

Brandon Epting Irving Farm Coffee United States Brewers Cup Competition


Irving Farm’s Brandon Epting recently competed at the US Coffee Championships in Long Beach, CA, in the Brewers Cup competition. We asked him about what it took to train for an event like this, and, like most things in coffee, it goes far beyond brewing a perfect cup.

Condensing months of learning, testing, applying, and redoing is difficult. Add to that the experience of meeting extended coffee family—brothers and sisters in the Northeast, cousins along the East Coast, and seldom-seen uncles who offer wisdom and encouragement. This is enough for a person to handle in a short few months: overwhelming activity and emotions, layered on top of the day-to-day mechanics of co-running a coffee shop and being a person…and then competition must be peppered in. After all, that’s the event.

People have asked me about the process of preparing for and going through regional and national competitions in the United States Brewers Cup Championship. Mostly, I answer that I thought it’d be a fun thing to try, that competition would increase my knowledge and abilities, and would be a fun way to get paid to brew delicious coffees all the time. These are all true, but they’re the answers I give when I think people don’t want to listen or would like a shorter answer. This is probably why they’re in my second paragraph.

Brandon Epting Irving Farm Coffee United States Brewers Cup Competition

I could also tell them how we at Irving Farm chose to approach the competition this year: mostly for educational growth and the application of quality assurance. When one prepares to go this deep into coffee brewing and assessment, all nuances are scrutinized. Our team learned heaps and could write volumes about our entire process, how it’s changing, and how we hope to apply it from farm to cup. These are the practical applications that are easy to grasp and quantify. They’re also good ways to justify cost and time, as they could easily yield even higher quality than we currently possess.

However, I’m convinced that these are not the most valuable take-aways from the process of competition. At least, they’re not what I felt vibrate in my bones. Community and camaraderie, the inspiration of other people and places, the ideas of bringing delicious coffee to the table—these are incredibly valuable. It’s like art, though: how do we express the value of inspiration and excitement? How do we express the experience of giving someone paper and paint, a story and a stage, or a coffee and a friend? You can’t. You can only watch as joy and sunlight stream out of their eyes.


Competition required six months of my attention when all was said and done. Some of the associated memories stick out more explicitly than others. One in snow-covered Rhode Island with the kids from New Harvest Coffee. Erick Armbrust and I met when we competed at the regional competition last fall. I’ve met one other person who I knew was family at first handshake, and I hope that one day Erick and I will get to work with each other in coffee or any other thing that requires heart and craft. Erick brought a solid knowledge of coffee and brewing to the table and was also headed to the nationals, so Josh Littlefield and I went to practice run-throughs with him in Providence. We tasted coffee, shared doughnuts, tasted more coffee, and ate Mexican food while Erick told us about the wood shop he wants to build in his living room. I expect a new wallet from him this spring because he’s clever with fabrics and sewing machines, too.

Brandon Epting Irving Farm Coffee United States Brewers Cup Competition

In California, during the trip to the nationals, I had a paralyzing emotional reaction that made me a horrible person to be around for much of the trip. Walls went up and I lashed out at friends. I had little control and no idea why I’d shifted into this terror, but it happened—and realizing this only made me more uncomfortable. About five days in, everything clicked. Reliving some parts of our lives is miserable. Fortunately, my teammate Josh Littlefield can mitigate that misery and be gentle and kind, if not a full-on buffer, and can take you around to drink good coffee served by people who give a damn. And my friend Matt Lauria can share apples and clothes, while listening intently about coffee brewing, even though he’s more of a water drinker.

Brandon Epting Irving Farm Coffee United States Brewers Cup Competition

Brandon Epting Irving Farm Coffee United States Brewers Cup Competition

Lastly, and on the day Josh and I were to fly home to NY, our friend Tyler from Wilbur Curtis asked us to meet at Blacktop Coffee. We drank several beautiful coffees poured into turquoise mugs, plated on wooden slats with reserves of coffee in small glass bottles, and ate stunning salmon and eggs that Instagram would swoon over—if you’re into that sort of thing. After, we appropriated Tyler from his work and drove to Joshua Tree. Tyler, a new friend, is wildy comfortable to be around, so there was a lot for us all to share. We spoke about where we came from and where we are, our perspectives of the “state of coffee” and our dreams of where we hope it will go. We spoke about relationships and families, business models, cremated rockstars, and drank rainwater on top of huge rocks in the middle of a desert. There’s a decent chance it was actually urine from a well-hydrated desert animal, but we’re still alive and all the better from the experience.


The competition itself was a mixture of frustration and excitement. With Brewers Cup being so young, there’s still confusion of what we’re rewarding and penalizing, and whether it’s a sourcing or a brewing competition. There’s a formula to follow if you’re after points, but honestly, these tend to be the least interesting presentations, although often the most expensive and different (read weird and uncommon) coffees. It’s a competition after all, so who can blame anyone for collecting points? I took two risky routes out of interest in where I was personally and professionally. Education and progress were my starting blocks, so I explored how isolated brewing variables work collaboratively and made analogies of escaped dinosaurs from Jurassic Park for regionals. At the nationals, I spoke about the choices we have to make as an industry, as roasters, brewers, and drinkers, then offered the judges a choice of two coffees and asked them to choose which they wanted me to brew on the spot. Both of these were a little more involved than the judges liked, but I had a blast doing them. It certainly pushed my boundaries and brought a lot of excitement to the people around me and the audience. We started thinking and discussing and sharing, and that excited me.

Brandon Epting Irving Farm Coffee United States Brewers Cup Competition

One of my great joys is learning. Another is people, although I’m incredibly uncomfortable around them. Pairing the two and hoping to invest in both brought me to coffee and presented me with one of my best friends, a home, the woman I am dating, and a place to learn better the fullness of relationships, community, and craft. It’s also a place I’ve poured time, blood, sweat, and money into. So, I guess this is really the root of the competition process for me: a coffee and a friend, with a hefty dose of craft.

Book Nook With Teresa von Fuchs


Teresa Von Fuchs Irving Farm Coffee

When Irving Farm’s Director of Wholesale, Teresa von Fuchs, told us that she wanted to write a piece for the blog inspired by a French book from the ’70s, we said, “Bring it!” Teresa is a mold breaker and a big inspiration for many people in the coffee industry. Here she reflects on literary theory, wine geekiness and, of course, her love of coffee.

I have always been a voracious reader. My mother joked that she often chided me to put the book down and go play outside.

In college, I was a writing and literature major. I dove deep into pulling apart reading, looking in between the words, thinking about context and authorial bias, about otherness and narrative point of view. New ideas bubbled up everywhere.

Toward the end of my last Literary Theory class, we were assigned The Pleasure of the Text by Roland Barthes. While it is about what the title might imply, it became more important for me as I grew and my span of reading grew. Initially, the book reminded me that part of what had drawn me to reading in the first place was the joy. Some of that joy had been lost in my learning to analyze reading and writing.

I was happily reminded of The Pleasure of the Text‘s ideas when Irving Farm’s green coffee buyer, Dan Streetman, insisted I read Eric Asimov’s How to Love Wine. While Streetman is a much bigger wine geek than I am, he said what moved him most about the book was that it encapsulated how he feels about coffee: It’s delicious. Appreciate it. Share it with others. Repeat. What’s refreshing and so exciting about Asimov’s book is not that he’s so knowledgeable or has so many years and such breadth of experience with wine, which he does. It’s that he’s most interested in sharing his joy in wine with you, his reader.

Part of my role at Irving Farm and as a coffee professional in general is to dissect what I’m tasting in the cup and why it tastes that way. That goes for crazy delicious tastes as well as off-putting flavors. What both Barthes’ and Asimov’s books reminded me is that though my role is to take coffee seriously, there’s still plenty of room to enjoy it. I can use my knowledge to take pleasure in each cup and to not forget to share my love along with my knowledge.

One of the things that moves me most about coffee is thinking about all the people that had a hand in its existence before it ever gets to mine. Taking a moment each day to immerse myself in that wonder, or better yet, share that wonder with others, only adds to the pleasure in the cup. And pleasure need not be divorced from seriousness. It should enhance it.

Welcome Back TNT Season!

TNT NYC Irving Farm

The new season of TNT (Thursday Night Throwdown) kicks off tonight at Cafe Grumpy, so we sat down with two of the organizers—Maciej Kasperowicz, Director of Coffee for Gregorys, and Bailey Rayne Arnold, their Director of Education—to learn more about what goes into a throwdown, why coffee peeps love to drink beer and spill milk together, and why you might like to join in the festivities.

TNT NYC Irving Farm Cafe Grumpy Halloween

What is a TNT?

MK: It’s a Thursday Night Throwdown, and it’s a magical night during which baristas get together, pour a bunch of latte art, and occasionally win prizes. More importantly (though some of our more competitive competitors might disagree), it’s an easy way to get a bunch of people from a local, specialty coffee community together to hang out, make friends, build relationships and the sense of community that helps make working in this industry so much fun.

BA: According to Google, a “throwdown” is “a performance by or competition between rappers, breakdancers, etc.” (I guess we fall under “etc.”) Another definition refers to a display or contribution of something; to throw down skills/expertise/knowledge, or funds for something. Spinning this in a direction that would be useful in this case, I’d say a TNT is a performance by baristas (and other coffee professionals alike) in which they face off against one another, displaying their expertly honed techniques of pouring textured and heated milk into espresso. 32 people enter, and 1 person leaves. (In the future maybe we should incorporate Thunderdome into the acronym, though I’m sure Maciej would have some technical reason to disagree.)

Who are the judges, and how are they selected?

MK: The judges are usually picked from previous winners, members of our organizing committee, representatives of sponsors and/or hosts, and people we pick out of the crowd who we know will do a good job. We don’t have a screening process, though we do have some basic criteria all the judges should follow at some point.

BA: We attempt to have a three-person judging panel: One judge a representative from whatever venue the TNT is held at, the previous month’s champion, and someone else (could be an organizer, could be a sponsor, could just be a random buddy who can’t tell a rosetta from a swan). The judges don’t necessarily need to meet any qualifications (except probably, like, just don’t be a jerk), but we try to make clear the judging criteria to each person, make sure there will be both men and women on the panel, and there won’t be two judges representing the same company/coffee shop.

Why is it important for coffee folks to spend time together drinking beer and spilling milk?

BA: It’s really important to have a multitude of platforms upon which to share information and experiences and joys and struggles and knowledge in our industry, and the more diverse (and FUN) those platforms, the better! There will always be cuppings, tastings, conferences, and trade shows—and there should always be throwdowns as well. Coffee people are the most fun people!

MK: I feel as we make efforts to grow into a more mature, successful industry, the idea that we’re all supportive of each other—and we get along, share information and get drunk together—sounds a little wide-eyed and naive, but I also think it’s as important as ever. That’s not to say that there isn’t competition in specialty coffee, and that’s not to say that everyone likes (or even should like) each other, but that spirit of community is, for me, a big factor in why I like working in coffee, and I think regular get-togethers help foster that.

Maciej, is it true you keep stats? Is there some inside betting ring involved?

MK: So yeah, at the beginning of the season I try to keep all the brackets and sign-up sheets, and develop some basic stats (total wins, winning percentage, wins per throwdown).

BA: There’s definitely an inside betting ring, but all of the profits go to Coffee Kids. (JK, we’re honest organizers!)

How much money did the community raise for Coffee Kids last season?

MK: $1,619 for Coffee Kids, $585 for the Monkey and the Elephant in Philly and $1,265 for Project ALS (that last one largely due to the Herculean efforts of Sam Penix). Sooooooo many awesome sponsors and people helped us.

What’s your favorite pour?

MK: I tend to be most impressed by rosettas cuz, while I can pour a decent tulip, I am truly awful at rosettas. But a nicely rounded tulip in a tiny cup always makes me happy, too.

BA: The elusive, perfect rosetta, where the base comes back around to the top of the cup, there’s a heart on top, and spaces between the leaves. F*ck all this drunken tulip sh*t! Rosettas forever!

Anything else?

BA: Uhhh, tattoos? We freakin raffled off tattoos. That was pretty rad.

TNT NYC Irving Farm

The TNT season kicks off again tonight, Tuesday, with a very special Tuesday night pre-Halloween Throwdown at the Cafe Grumpy roastery, 199 Diamond Street, Brooklyn.

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…

Director, Content Marketing at Teach For America

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:

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.


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!

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,

We’re off to the Races at the United States Barista Championship!



Coffee stories may start at the farm, but those aren’t the only adventures we love in this industry. This week, we’re packing our bags (and demitasses!) in excitement for an annual gathering of coffee fans and pros in Seattle, Washington: the United States Barista Championship.

This competition pits the best of the best in the nation against one another in a battle of espresso-based deliciousness. Baristas will compete in front of a panel of tasting and technical judges to prepare the nation’s best espresso, cappuccino and signature drink creations, all vying for the chance to become the United States Barista Champion and compete representing the United States of America in the World Barista Championship this June in Rimini, Italy.

Tamara Vigil, who works out of our Manhattan headquarters as our Coffee Educator, is one of the best things that ever happened to us. Her enthusiasm and coffee smarts have raised the game for everyone who works at, and brews coffee roasted by, Irving Farm. She’ll be competing with one of our favorite coffees from Ethiopia, and you can catch her contagious charm (and see serious skills) online next week at the official USBC website at 7:28 PM EST, this Friday, April 25, at this live-streaming link!

What’s more, we’re sending other members of the Farmily, like coffee director Dan Streetman, Teresa von Fuchs and Liz Dean, to volunteer at the competition as judges—and, well, when Tamara is competing, as cheerleaders.

We hope you’ll join us in cheering on Irving Farm—and the whole world of specialty coffee—as we celebrate the professionals who deliver the message of truly wonderful coffee through their talent and passion.

Bikes + Coffee with Red Hook Crit’s David Trimble


Bikes + Coffee at 88 Orchard

Photos by David Trimble


We’re kicking off this season with a race!

Spring may be struggling to find its footing in New York, but we have friends—and some friendly cut-throat competition—to keep us warm. This Saturday, March 29, 2014, we’ll be at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal with coffee and snacks to fuel racers and spectators at the seventh iteration of the Red Hook Criterium. This year is the first time there will be a separate women’s race, and there will also be men’s and women’s 5k foot races. Lots of action all around!

Earlier this week, we met at 88 Orchard with race organizer David Trimble and one of this year’s first-time RHC participants, Michael Biastoch of Germany. Although there’s still much to do as the race nears, David had a moment to share with us his thoughts on how RHC got started and on the beautiful relationship between coffee and bikes. Check out the conversation, below.

Red Hook Crit's David Trimble with competitor Michael Biastoch at 88 Orchard

RHC’s David Trimble with competitor Michael Biastoch at 88 Orchard

Bikes + Coffee at 88 Orchard with Red Hook Crit competitor Michael Biastoch

Competitor Michael Biastoch with IFCR’s Ugo Aniukwu at 88 Orchard


Bikes + Coffee: Our conversation with David Trimble

Tell us about Trimble Racing + the Red Hook Criterium?

Trimble Racing encompasses all of my family’s activity in cycling. My father and (many) siblings all ride and race bikes. We have competed all over the world on many different formats of racing (alleycats, downhill, cross country, road, track, etc). Under the Trimble Racing name I have organized races in Alaska and The Catskills in addition to the RHC. The Red Hook Criterium is a race I first organized in 2008 as part of my birthday party. Since then it has grown into what it is today.

How did you get started in the cycling industry?

My father and uncle were frame builders who invented the modern carbon monocoque frame. Their bikes have won world championships and Olympic Gold medals. I have been around cycling my entire life.

What got you interested in great coffee? And what made you want to have great coffee at your events?

The Red Hook Crit is held at the end of March when it is cold and windy. Qualifying starts in the afternoon with the main races at night. It is a long, long day. We start setting up at 6am. Spectators, volunteers, and athletes need a good warm cup of coffee to keep themselves moving.

What connection do you see between coffee and cycling?

Riding bikes makes you tired. Drinking coffee makes you feel better. The correlation is very strong. Almost every cyclist I know is obsessed with coffee.

Do you have any funny coffee-related stories?

It is always funny speaking to Europeans who are convinced good coffee doesn’t exist in America. Coffee may be consistently better in Italy but the absolute best cup can be found in New York.


We wish Michael and all of the competitors the best of luck this weekend. And we hope to see you at the crit. Admission is free for spectators, so check the rest of the details at redhookcrit.com to make sure you don’t miss all the fun!

Remember to come see us at the sidelines near the start and finish line for hot cups of our Monte Cristo, BrazilLa Bendicion, Nicaragua, and of course espressos and macchiatos made with our signature Blackstrap Espresso. Go bikes and coffee!

Peak Organic + Irving Farm Launch Espresso Amber Ale


As coffee people, we’re naturally drawn to those who brew—the other stuff. Imagine our delight when our friends at Peak Organic Brewing Co. in Portland, Maine, tapped us to participate in a collaborative beer. Working together with their brewers, we helped them select from our finest organic coffee offerings to home in on the key ingredient (besides beer) in their new Espresso Amber Ale.

Jon Cadoux, founder and brewer at Peak Organic, is a longtime fan of collaborating with those who produce fine organic ingredients. When looking for a coffee component for their newest brew, “we let Irving Farm handle the coffee, while we handled the beer,” Cadoux said. “We respect their commitment to deepening relationships with the growers of their beans.”

While most coffee beers tend to focus on the darker shades of coffee, ending up in heavier beers like stouts and porters, Peak Organic wanted something a little bit on the lighter side. Malty, complex, and a little fruity. We guided them towards an organic coffee we really love from the Capucas cooperative in Honduras that would harmonize wonderfully with an amber style of beer. We roasted it to bring out precisely the notes of citrus, green apple and cinnamon Cadoux fell in love with, with a firm backbone of robust, toasty espresso.

The result? Espresso Amber Ale, an absolutely delicious crossover that we can’t wait to share with you.

The beer launches this weekend to our excitement and fanfare. But somehow that didn’t seem like enough, so on Friday, March 7…we’re throwing it a party!


We hope you’ll join us to raise a glass of Peak Organic Espresso Amber Ale at our 88 Orchard Street cafe in New York City, Friday, March 7 from 6–10pm. We’ll have food, music…and, of course, plenty of Espresso Amber Ale for you to try!

« Older