Procrastination Nation

Hello long-neglected blogosphere! I'm taking a break from doing teasearch (har har!) for my upcoming Introduction to Tea* class to bring you the latest scoops from my corner of the coffee galaxy. Roll the news reel, boys!

In the past week and a half, I've made a concerted effort to field-trip myself around to some of the shops in NYC I'd yet to experience, which I think is so important when constructing an idea of how to run a store.

I am always inspired by other shops' aesthetics, customer service ideas and space design, and it's also a secret kind of relief to be able to go into a cafe and be on the more densely populated side of the counter.

My adventures brought me to Jack's Stir Brew:

Jack's Stir Brew Espresso

And Think Coffee:

Think Coffee

Two places that could almost not be more different, space-wise. Jack's is a cozy little nook in the neighborhoodiest heart of the West Village (a stone's throw from the original Joe on Waverly Place, actually, which makes my not having been there before a little bit embarrassing), brick-walled and intimate; Think is a massive expanse of collegiate rock & roll–style java-slinging radness.

Both stores have a dedication to community, organic and fair trade coffees, live music and performance, and very friendly and funny baristi; Both trips were a pleasure. It's easy to forget, when you spend most of your time behind an espresso machine with a dry rag tucked into your back pocket (like I do), that going to a coffee shop can be one of the simplest, most pleasing experiences.

This past week, I've also done a lot of thinking about espresso fundamentals: extraction, flavor, mouthfeel, color, origin, the whole nine.

A major part of my job is to go from shop to shop, check in with the baristi on-shift and hover over them and make them nervous. Just kidding! But really, I show up at one shop or another and ask whomever's on bar to pull me a shot. The espresso rolls around on my tongue, in my mouth, down the back of my throat, into my coffee-loving belly, and I tell them about it. Today's victim was Anne, and she pulled me a real freaking doozy.

Quality Control

I like bright espresso, and ours, Barrington's, is caramel and chocolate and sunshine. Today reminded me of the things I like best about work, including having someone on my staff make me a coffee that feels and tastes exactly how I imagine fresh, beautiful, hand-crafted espresso to taste. I love working with coffee, you guys. I love training people, and I love when someone on my staff can pull a better shot for me than I can on a given day.

Thanks, Anne! You're a feaking gem.

In other wholly-unexciting-to-the-average-person-news, this past weekend, my sweetie and I took a quick zip-zap up to Boston to visit old friends and haunts of mine—including the coffee shop at which my career got its somewhat ramshackle start: Espresso Royale, 44 Gainsborough St, Boston.

Royale with Cheese

As is my little way, I was more or less too shy to ask questions about the way things are done there now. I could, however, glean from the above cup of drip coffee that they're using an Italian roast as their house brew, and that I haven't been long enough away from the place for my handwriting to not still be on all kinds of crap in the store. Memory Lane, indeed.

Finally, I'd like to share a photo of a sick latte pulled by my colleague, friend and Joe @ Alessi assistant manager, Derek.


Derek's been with us about, what, a year and half now? He's sort of like Google—it's impossible to remember how we got on without him. Beautiful work, broham! The student has surpassed the teacher!

Judging by the size of this post, I've procrastinated enough: Back to the teasearch.

*Tea 101 March 8 and 15 at Joe, 8pm. 141 Waverly Place NYC, (212) 924-6750