Opened April 6th
The day was still unseasonably chilly. It felt like a London kind of weather cool in New York. There was a chill to warrant more than a spring coat, but a warmth exerting its heat in the height of the afternoon, which is when upon exiting off a bus travelling South on that I came upon bold, white type against a deep matte grey building on a corner of Cobble Hill across from a playground.
Upon entering this coffee shop, eatery and roastery, I was greeted by the one who alerted me to East One Coffee Roasters official opening and brick and mortar rise in the United States, – Kendra Borowski, RVD Communications – after co-owners Tom Cummings and Morten Tjelum – spent more than a year and a half looking for a space here in New York, post selling off their European coffee roasting business.
I love a warm welcome! And while with full disclosure, I must say that this was a complimentary press visit, what follows is my documentation of my in-real-life experience as only I know how to do. After all, I wirite about what I feel; what I love.
What greets one upon entering East One Coffee Roasters must be told as more than one thing done well; it’s a lot of things. For a multi-sensory experience it began for me with a bar facing me right away, where a beautifully adorned caught my attention with its wooden handles knocking on my heart for its aesthetics and the juxtaposition of an almost Tiffany Blue in the Acme and Co. ceramics which were linked like cups in waiting for a drinking suitor.
Then my eyes gazed above the steam wand and the effect it created on being applied to the milk, steam dissipating into thin air, the same air that just above it held the view of a type driven menu – simplistic, straightforward, and special – announcing t coffee drink staples among its seasonal and single origin offerings. I make a note to self that while I will order an espresso based drink because I need some comfort right now, I want to explore the single origin espresso.
As I stand and look around at the front of house, I see occupancy. The communal table to the right in front of street facing windows is full and a buzz. I like it. Then I do a 360 turn and more seating to my left holds a few individual customers talking on phones, working at laptops, countered by another communal table and then, oh! What do we have here, the most light filled nook. I wanted to sit there, crawl in it and let my feet dangle and I did as I ordered a coffee and begin to chat with co-owner Tom of East One Coffee Roaster.
“I wanted to be somewhere, that needed us. Somewhere that was crying for something interesting,” said Cummings.
It is as Cummings says this that I make a mental note. Then, I make a typed note of his why which is in effect what he has shared with me. East One Coffee Roasters entry into the American market wasn’t about taking over the coffee scene or even a philosophy of doing coffee better. It’s for them as entrepreneurs, hospitality professional, and specialty coffee industry people to give the culture something else to hold onto. I hold on to my Sonar Blend espresso based cappuccino as I listen to roaster speak of his approach to being here in Cobble Hill and crafting beans that always tell the story of the company being just that, a roasting company.
While visiting Head of Coffee, James Stahon, in a clear roasting box and beyond it situated south of center, I soon learn the stories behind the green hue of light coming from two rectangular glass boxes discovered during their design build phase and in front of the old and new lintel atop the near floor to ceiling window leading to an eventual skylight of natural sunbeams.
“I just want to bring out what’s in the bean,” said Stahon
I take some time to visually take in the back of the house, this Wi-Fi less room whose intention is to remind and allow people to experience what a coffee space historically was and can still be as owners work to find balance between a culture of day workers wanting the aesthetics of a coffee shop to work with those that want the experience of imbibing specialty coffee and accessible dining as one.
“The goal is to be bring back the traditional coffee shop genre. I want you to be able to come and sit back and relax. We also want roasting to be part of the theater of what we do,” said Cummings.
It should be noted that the Diedrich IR-12 roaster, is creating all the profiles that patrons will sip. And, the coffee pulled on the Slayer Steam, also notably, the first of its kind to be in use here in the United States.
Cupping commences and thus those sounds as I wait for my lunch order from Chef Will Ono I opt for Cummings favorite – shrimp atop a fine bed of North Carolina grits, flown in bulk straight from the South.
I take in the sounds literally.
“Do you do events?” a man asks.
“I’m just stopping in to check out the space,” another says.
“I have two kids at home. I needed this [wine] and some good food to finish this RFP,” a woman shares with me on why she came.
All exterior listening stops when two dishes are carried to me containing a platter of yucca fries and a bed of Anson Mill grits with Andouille sausage, preserved tomato with herbs.
There are smooth slices of red pepper on top of my yucca fries, like a riverboat gliding on calm waters. I take a bite, and I sink, below thought and wade on feeling.
I feel as if I transported from café space to a dining table. Not any dining table, but what I supposed would be Cummings own, if Ono was commissioned to steer a night of great food and conversation. Alas, its mid-evening and I am sitting in an eatery in front of a roaster. This brings to mind, the plum forward and milk chocolate cappuccino that I am still nursing. Depth in coffee, cleanness and clarity and food are now exerting a force upon me. I am happy. I am happy that the culture of specialty coffee can exist and thrive contrary to what Cummings was told upon embarking on this American adventure, “You can’t expect people to be good at serving food too.”
Because food gets the focus that coffee does here, one can expect it and should. For a man who fell in love with coffee after he got into it, there seems like no divide between the front and back of East One Coffee Roasters.
United it stands.
Visit: May 4, 2o17
Chermelle D. Edwards