New York’s coffee culture is ushering in the era of local roasting, with coffee brands landing high-dollar real estate around the city — in Brooklyn in particular — to house roasting equipment in-house.
The most recent announcement is that Lofted coffee owners Tobin Polk and Lance Schnorenberg are rolling out Sey Coffee, (yes spelled backwards), pouring a signature Nordic-style bright roast in Bushwick (18 Grattan Street). Though they’ll eventually roast their own coffee in-house, they’re currently doing it off-site.
Then, billed by the Times as a place to geek out on coffee, multi-location Nobletree Coffee will open a roasting facility in Red Hook (499 Van Brundt Street), a place that “that sets out to make a statement, a state-of-the-art coffee bar with all the shiny toys: a gurgling Steampunk brewer, a streamlined Modbar brewer and espresso machine, kegs of nitrogenized cold brew on tap.”
And this week, Think Coffee opened a 3,000 square-foot cafe, bakery, and roastery in Williamsburg, with outdoor seating, in-house baked goods, and the typical roster of espresso drinks. Owner Jason Scherr will start roasting in the space in late September.
Director of coffee at Variety Coffee Roasters Erika Vonie tells Eater that the reason there’s so much more local roasting has to do with companies like Stumptown selling off to Pete’s Coffee. “When companies are bought off, it leaves a space in the market for smaller roasters,” she says.
Plus, roasting locally has become more attractive so that shops can control more of the supply chain. More and more shops are opting to roast their own beans instead of buying from big companies like Counter Culture, which roasts in North Carolina or San Francisco.
Even many coffee shops that have yet to invest in real estate for an on-site roastery will roast locally with places like Pulley Collective in Red Hook. The facility allows smaller brands, as well as bigger ones like Joe and Ninth Street Espresso, to learn more about roasting and roasting styles before sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into outfitting a space with a roaster and proper venting, she says.
It’s not just indie coffee brands or local chains vying to make a mark with on-site roasting: Blue Bottle opened its Bushwick roastery back in January, with its cupping room and wall of living orchids. Visitors can watch the theater-of-roasting as Blue Bottlers ever-so-slowly roast beans.
Around the same time, Starbucks Reserve opened in a massive, subterranean gallery space in Chelsea (525 West 26th Street) — just before the company was to sign for its reserve roastery and tasting room in the Meatpacking district at 860 Washington Street. That will be a 25,000 square-foot cafe, making it one of the biggest Starbucks locations in the world. It’s on track to open in 2018.