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.

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

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.

The Pantry Cold Spring New York Iced Irving Farm Coffee Growler

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!

Cursive Coffee Keeps Vermont Poppin’ (Up)

In this fourth in a series of interviews by Irving Farm to the talented food and drink professionals we work in partnership with, we take a minute with the Sam and Jim at Cursive Coffee in Burlington, Vermont, to talk about their grassroots effort to bring the coffee to the people.

 

thetwoofustogether

Tell us about Cursive Coffee? Where’d the name come from?
Cursive is primarily a mobile company, an itinerant pop-up, if you will, but we’re becoming a bit more sedentary as we move toward roasting. We do events, farmers markets, and are regularly accessible at an antique shop called Barge Canal Market, in Burlington, Vermont. With regards to the name, there really is no way to know—we blacked out and ordered a thousand business cards, and here we are. We thought about changing it for awhile, but then we started stamping cups, so I guess we’re in. The rest is history.

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How’s moving all the equipment around going?
It’s fun, in a very frustrating and expletive-filled way. Both of us have been musicians for a long time, so we approached the notion of moving expensive equipment around very similarly to the way a band gears up for tour. We use a Gator subwoofer bag for our machine and grinder, and a Peavey microphone bag for most of our glassware. Since it’s Vermont, we were required to also use an array of wooden crates for our other belongings—our insurance requires a certain percentage of rustic impracticality. The biggest and most hilarious obstacle tends to be the plumbing—we use Flojets for our machine and pitcher rinser, and sometimes amidst set-up/break down we leave more residual dampness than we’d like to. Also we lose things often, which is a drag. Have you guys seen any cupping spoons that, ya know, probably aren’t yours?

When did you first get interested in coffee? What made you start to take it seriously?
Sam: My first job was in a coffee shop, I’ve been working in coffee for years and years. I’d always been more interested than most of my coworkers, least in the bad coffee shops I used to work at, but I started taking it seriously when I had my first noticeably good cup of coffee, which was during my training at Uncommon Grounds in Burlington, where Jim and I met and worked together for awhile. Compared to the dreck I’d been drinking before, it was definitely a STEP UP.
Jim: I haven’t been working in coffee for as long as Sam, but I do like to think I may have been responsible for the cup that changed his life. That’s how I tell it, anyway. For me, before working as a barista, I drank such an excessive amount of coffee and spent enough time obsessing about it that I figured, what the hell, I should do this for money. Uncommon was an awesome place to learn an array of things about preparation and roasting, and I think shit got next level for me when I went to MANE in 2012, and realized there was a whole culture out there, beyond the lakes and mountains of our dystopian New England enclave.

Where did you get the idea to pop up in an antique shop?
Well, we were really smitten with a lot of the odd pop-up situations going on in NY, foremost Parlor Coffee in [barbershop] Persons Of Interest, Verve at Poler, Brooklyn Jane, Sweetleaf inside a real estate agency—all those wacky pairings. At that point, we were only doing events and farmers markets, but getting a lot of great feedback, and wanted a spot where people could actually seek us out, at least for the winter. Honestly, I think that Barge Canal Market was the first idea we had – it’s a great big space, with tons of quirky antiques and interesting set pieces, as well as a built-in array of unique and endearing drinkware. The owners, Adelle and Jeremy, are swell as could be, and they loved the idea. It all worked out, and people seem to really enjoy being able to hang out and sip their drink in a midcentury living room. Admittedly our bar stools aren’t always the most comfortable.

How did you first hear about Irving Farm Coffee Roasters?
Jim: There was a drip pot of Don Pancho outside the room where I took my Barista Guild exam, at MANE 2012. I drank it, it was good, whatever. Year and a half later, when Sam and I started contacting roasters, Teresa won us over with her wit and charm, with which we strongly identified. Furthermore, as a company, we strive to emphasize the importance of transparency, and hardly anybody does a better job than Irving Farm in terms of making information accessible to the consumer.

Sam: Not to mention, the coffee is totally sick.
Jim: Yeah I guess so.

What’s your favorite Irving Farm coffee and how did you make it?
After hours of deliberation, a couple arm wrestles, and a lot of crying… we have concluded that El Molino is our all time favorite offering, and we loved it most fervently as espresso. Sticky sweet, apricot, peach syrup, honey. Adding a bit of milk made it taste like an orange creamsicle. Runners up might include the Dolok Sanggul, which we really love through the Kone, or the Idido through a good ol fashioned Chemex. But we don’t want the Rwandan Coopac that we’re drinking right now to overhear us and have its feelings hurt though…this is one of the most awesome and dynamic cups we’ve made through a Kalita in weeks.

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Who writes those awesome tasting notes? Can you share with us some of your favorite verbiage?
Jim writes the verbiage, Sam actually can’t form grammatically cohesive sentences, since he didn’t go to college. Jim workshops them aloud until hearing what only he can identify as an agreeable grunt from Sam. In terms of our favorite verbiage, we encourage folks to check out our Facebook and Instagram and decide for themselves. Some are funny, some are provocative, all of them get some warranted furrowings of brows at every Farmers Market.

What does the future hold for Cursive Coffee?
Roasting! Our ambition from the very beginning has been to evolve into a roasting and sourcing company…and as we embark upon this adventure, we’re doing it one origin at a time, with Matthew White as our roastdoctor, workshopping and sample roasting every forthcoming offering for weeks until we feel it’s really up to snuff. Serving Irving Farm coffee sets unreasonably high standards, but we’re not looking to relinquish them. Our first run is a Kenyan from the Gatomboya factory in Nyeri, purchased through Coffee Shrub. We only have fifty pounds, and we’ve been taking pre-orders to ensure that none is wasted and that every bag is received fresh off the drum!

Anything else you want to add?
Seltzer, if you’ve got any.

Visit Cursive Coffee at the Barge Canal Market in Burlington, Vermont, and various other surprise locations to try Irving Farm staples as well as a rotation of in-house roasted selections, and of course, a heaping helping of wit.

Creating a Coffee Blend With a Community at Table on Ten

Table on Ten, Bloomfield, NY. Photo by Ingalls Photography.

Table on Ten, Bloomfield, NY. Photo by Ingalls Photography.

Relationships make great coffee. From the farmers, to the roasters, specialty coffee folk speak reverently of relationship coffee, emphasizing the bonds that bring us closer to the origins of coffee. But there are relationships on the other side of the coffee economy, closer to the point of consumption. But once a coffee has reached our roasting facility the number of people directly engaged in fashioning a finished product—say, a new blend or a roast profile for instance—is limited. Most of our customers, as they come to understand more of the labor that goes into roasting, profiling, and blending, are satisfied to choose from the coffees on a cupping table. We seek out—and work best—with partners who are as dedicated to their crafts as we are to our coffees. And they treat our, now their, coffee the way they treat everything else on their menus. But now and then a special customer comes along who wants to go deeper into the process with us.

Photo by Ugo Aniukwu

Photos by Ugo Aniukwu

Our friends at Table on Ten in Bloomville, NY—who seem to have direct lines of communication not just with their local producers, but with the produce itself—are one team for whom buying great coffees was not enough. They expressed to us their desire to be more involved in the production of the coffee they feature in their cafe. And not just for themselves—they wanted the opportunity to involve their local community in the process, to get the whole town together to create a blend. We were admittedly scratching our heads at the prospect of formally presenting, judging, soliciting and recording public feedback on the half-dozen coffees being considered for a Table on Ten blend. Such exercises are usually conducted at the roastery or in our training lab, so we were a bit out of our comfort zone, but excited about the adventure nonetheless.

So, one Saturday in early October, Teresa von Fuchs and I drove out of Manhattan and north into the western Catskills, nervous, excited and uncertain about what we were getting into. Neither of us had been to Bloomville before. But what we walked into that night was one of the most immediately familiar and welcoming communities either of us have had the good fortune to be introduced to. We were greeted warmly as “the coffee people” about whom Inez and Julian had told them so much. We never expected our presence to be so celebrated as it was that weekend in Bloomville. We sat down to a dizzying array of five or six pizzas, each a different recipe, and each incredibly delicious. We shared our table with Julian’s neighbors Cay Sophie and Christian, and it wasn’t until the end of the meal that we realized Cay Sophie and Christian would also be our hosts for the night, after taking us to a bonfire, where we met more travelers who were also in the process of falling in love with this place.

Bewildered as we were by the welcome we received and by the wonderful sense of community crowded into this unassuming house on the side the road, we very quickly began to make sense of what Table on Ten was looking for when they asked if we’d help them and their town create their own coffee blend.

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In the morning we set up on a table taking up much of of the microshop/cafe and began brewing. Table on Ten’s only criteria for coffees to be considered were that they come from producers with whom we have strong relationships, and that their town tended to favor darker roasts, which reminded Inez of the coffees she grew up on. We had three coffees roasted with two different profiles and we brewed up batches of all six for any and all who ventured to taste.

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There were lots of opinions and votes and tasting notes and smells and stories of coffees shared and loved and longed for. There was a whole family who came in for breakfast after celebrating a son’s wedding the night before. There was a couple visiting from Holland. There were quite a few folks from the city who swore they’d have to move to Bloomville after spending a weekend in its thrall. After all the votes were tallied (maybe we weighted Inez and the Table’s teams input a little heavier…) we blended the remaining small bags of coffee and A3 blend was born.

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After much cleaning and shaking of hands, we set back out on the road. With tummies stuffed full of pizza, made from scratch, with ingredients grown by friends and family, baked in an oven built by hand, off tables made from the woods and falling-down barns nearby–we understood the meaning of relationships and local production to the very heart of the cafe, and were proud that our coffee had the extra touch of relationship-building tucked inside. In Bloomville we were reminded of the other beautiful of face of relationship coffee. For this and all our relationships in coffee, we are grateful to no end.

Pastry Chef Laurie Jon Moran on Coffee as a Dessert Ingredient

Pastry Chef Laurie Jon  Moran in the kitchen at Le Bernardin.

Pastry Chef Laurie Jon Moran in the kitchen at Le Bernardin.

In this third in a series of interviews by Irving Farm to the talented food and drink professionals we work in partnership with, we take a minute with Executive Pastry Chef Laurie Jon Moran of Le Bernardin.
How did you get started in the food and beverage industry? and What’s your role now?
I knew I wanted to be a chef when I was about 14 years old, so after high school I went to culinary school rather than college. Now I’m lucky enough to be the Executive Pastry Chef at Le Bernardin.

What led you to pastry in your career?
While I was in culinary school I enjoyed pastry more and was more attracted to it because of the precision and technicality.

Tell us more about how you use coffee in creating your dessert menu? How do the individual flavor profiles of each coffee affect how you approach them?
The approach is generally to get as much of the natural flavor profile of the coffee beans into the dessert as we can, especially the lighter more floral notes that often get lost in dessert preparations.

What’s the most successful dessert you’ve ever made incorporating coffee?
The coffee dessert that we have on the menu right now is quite popular. It’s a play on a tiramisu but with coffee being the main flavor, supported by mascarpone and salted caramel. We try to make the quality and flavor of the coffee beans the thing that makes the dessert special and infuse them into most of the components.

What coffee/s are you currently working with? What interests or excites you about them?
We are currently using beans from Los Lirios, Honduras in our coffee dessert. I love its balance and fruity acidity. It is also one of my favourite coffees as an espresso, although for me, nothing has beaten the Amaro Gayo beans from Ethiopia.

What’s been the most interesting thing you’ve learned about coffee?
I didn’t realize how unique different coffees can be and how big the range of flavor profiles is. Trying different coffees as the selections changed at the Irving Farm 79th street shop really opened my eyes to that, then doing a cupping at the training lab really blew me away.

 

Blue Hill’s Chef Dan Barber on the G9…and the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Blue Hill Chef Dan Barber

Blue Hill Chef Dan Barber

The G9 Chef’s Summit, an annual meeting of the  International Advisory Council of the Basque Culinary Center, aka nine of the world’s top chefs, met close to our home this year in Pocantico Hills, NY, at the revered Blue Hill at Stone Barns farm and restaurant. We spoke with Blue Hill chef and G9 member Dan Barber about what the meeting was all about…and how the world’s top chefs liked our coffee.

What was this year’s G9 conference all about?
This year’s G9 was about bringing together the original producers of grains and seeds together with chefs to get them to think about the products and produce we use before they even hit the field. We all think about sourcing ingredients, and the further back along the chain we go when we think about it, the better. If we get to know the people who are imagining the flavors and textures of the future, we can work together to create that future.

What thing struck you most about this years’ conference?
Mostly the recognition that we may have overlooked breeders in our pursuit to eke out specific flavors and textures. That, and the chance to facilitate the meeting of so many incredible artisans.

So we have to ask, as we talk about the specific ingredients you choose to use at Blue Hill, how does coffee fit into your master plans?
The same way it fit into the conference this year. You have a collection of incredible chefs, breeders, this room full of incredible tasters and people driven by the pursuit of great flavor and we wanted to fuel them with great flavors in their cups. In our restaurant, it’s the diners who we want to provide the best possible tastes. And when we don’t screw it up, I think that’s what we do with your coffee.

 I was really happy at this year’s conference to be able to introduce so many people to Irving Farm and the work you all do. So many people came up to me and said they couldn’t believe Irving Farm Coffee tasted like that.

What’s on your mind, and what are you most excited to work on for this coming year? In terms of seeds/your restaurant/anything?
I’m most excited for good coffee!

Here’s to that!

Read more about some of the farms Blue Hill is inspired by here on their website.

Farm to Farm Interview: Madava Farms’ Jacob Griffin

crown maple

Crown Maple and Madava Farms’ Jacob Griffin

 

In this first in a series of interviews by Irving Farm to the brilliant food and drink professionals we work in partnership with, we take a minute with Jacob Griffin, chef and Man Behind The Farm Stand at our Dutchess County, NY neighbors Crown Maple and Madava Farms.

 

Tell us about the Farm Stand at Madava Farms, and how it fits in with Crown Maple?
The Farm Stand at Madava Farms is our Café and visitor hub at the Sugarhouse. It is open year-round on weekends for lunch, tours, nature walks, private dinners and many other activities. I prepare a weekly menu utilizing our farm produce and other ingredients grown by local farms in the Hudson Valley.

The forests at Madava Farms produce our quality Crown Maple Syrup. When the sap stops running, the rest of the forest & farm come alive. We grow our own produce for The Farm Stand in our 6.5-acre chef’s garden. And just like our syrup, we work hard to produce unique and high quality fresh produce and turn it into great tasting food.

 

How did you get started in the food and beverage industry?
Like many chef stories begin, I was always cooking up my own creations at home as a child. However, mine began in the northern state of Alaska where the growing season is extremely short and the main entrée for many families is a moose-roast.

My first food and beverage position was for a catering company working front of the house my first year of college. It wasn’t long that I moved to the kitchen and started mixing baked goods and prepping food for our large events. The chef there pulled me aside one day and recommended I consider changing my major and going to culinary school.

With the help of my best friend, I applied and was accepted at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. This is where I began a career which opened up many amazing opportunities for this Alaskan.

 

What are you most excited about/interested in about what you guys are doing at Crown Maple and the Farm Stand?
At Madava Farms, I get to combine my two favorite things: sweets and local fresh produce. For many, sweets and veggies don’t always go together right away, but our maple syrup is the perfect natural sweet balancer. And better, the veggies come from our own garden right outside of our sugarhouse. If I run out of thyme or basil, I grab some shears and head out to the garden.

 

How does coffee fit into your menu?
Coffee fits in two ways: it is the last taste and aroma the guest experiences from a farm-fresh meal. The cup must be well-balanced, flavorful and leave your palate fresh and light in order to ensure a great meal.

Second is my Crown Maple Latte. It is perfect marriage of quality espresso & great maple syrup. I serve just as many maple lattes as I do coffees during the sugaring season.

I love using Irving Farm because they share the same characteristics we have for our syrup and food: sustainability, high quality standards and support of local businesses.

 

What coffee are you currently serving?
This season I selected the Santa Isabel – Guatemala. I chose this coffee because of its fresh earthiness in the aroma and aftertaste. It pairs well with our use of farm-fresh ingredients. I am also one of those people who can smell some of the oddest things in coffee, and this particular origin, I love the subtle taste of pumpkin seeds and multi-grains.

 

Thank you, Chef Griffin!