Reflecting on Coffee Common NYC


After completing the fourth Coffee Common event in our first year, I’m really excited about the future of cC and specialty coffee as a whole. There’s an excitement and eagerness among consumers to learn more about coffee, the choices they have, and making it better at home. While every Coffee Common event has been a success for different reasons, our event in New York was without question, my favorite so far.

The space we used was a bright corner unit across the street from Highline Park called A Startup Store. It was just a few blocks from Chelsea Market and provided ample room for three bars, lit by a flood of natural light through floor to ceiling windows. Each bar had a different theme that introduced guests to new discussions and experiences around the coffees being served. After walking in and paying a nominal fee of $5, guests were handed a ceramic cup to use during their stay.

The first bar, Taste&, was an introduction to each coffee brewed in a V60. It was an opportunity for guests to try several coffees from different origins and roasters side-by-side, while talking with baristas about differences, thoughts, likes and dislikes. By the time customers walked away, many of them had experienced for the first time just how different coffees can taste from one another.

Everyone left this bar with a personal favorite and reasons why they liked it more than others—the sweetness, the fruitiness, the brightness, the balance. The tasting was far less intimidating than a cupping and more akin to an informal wine tasting. Guests lingered and chatted with baristas, or went back for seconds and thirds of their choice coffee. It was the central gathering point of the event and created a context for which the other bars could work within—that not all coffee is the same.

The next station was our Ingredients& bar. This stop fostered a lot of conversation, even among those who didn’t attend. The premise was simple, illustrate the effects that additives like milk and sugar have on two types of coffee—specialty and commodity. First, guests were given an unnamed commodity coffee to try black and then discussed what they tasted. Ashy, burnt, smokey and bitter were common responses. That coffee was then dressed with some milk and sugar and it transformed into a coffee that most people were familiar or comfortable with.

Next, one of the featured coffees were sampled in its unadulterated form. The unique characteristics of that coffee were then discussed and usually agreed upon as much nicer to drink in its black state than the previous coffee. Milk and sugar were then added to the specialty coffee, which reduced its complexity, making it less interesting and ultimately diminishing the qualities that made it special.

Although some still enjoyed both coffees with milk and sugar, most noticed the adverse effects it had on the flavor. The purpose wasn’t to say what was right or wrong, but once again illustrate that not all coffees are the same and discuss those differences. [Erin Meister, a barista who worked this bar, wrote a great piece about it on Serious Eats]

The third bar, tucked in the back corner of the space, was the place to go for hands-on demonstrations and personal brewing tips from baristas. Method& was the coffee equivalent of an Apple Genius Bar and my favorite of them all.

There were three stations where guests could chose the coffee and the brew method they were most interested in learning about. Baristas at this bar would brew a round with step-by-step instructions, answering questions along the way, and serve the resulting sample to everyone within reach. Next, the tools were passed on to guests who wanted to try it themselves, being guided through the process.

Seeing the look of empowerment and success on a persons face after making their very first Chemex or AeroPress was the most rewarding part of the event. When someone realized that with just slightly more effort than making EasyMac, they could enjoy much better coffee at home, it was a big win for everyone involved. Watching people leave with a smile on their face and—in some cases—all the equipment needed to brew coffee themselves, was a win for everyone in specialty coffee.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen and all of you who came out to participate (especially those who waited in line). If you haven’t had the chance to join us at Coffee Common yet, I hope that one day you will.



posted by on 02.02.2012, under Misc.

Coffee Common NYC has Begun


Coffee Common has officially begun! After spending the last 48 hours unpacking boxes, transforming our space and orienting a new team of baristas, we’re ready to roll. If you’re in New York between today and Sunday, this shouldn’t be missed. Come try some great coffee, learn a lot from fabulous baristas and see what I’m doing when I’m not writing here on DCILY. This page will be dormant all week, but follow along over at Coffee Common for live updates.

Twitter: @CoffeeCommon

The doors to Coffee Common have officially opened to the public here in NYC and we’re really excited to share these great coffees with everyone. For $5, you’ll be given a ceramic vessel to use while you’re in the space to visit each of our bars as often as you’d like.

Each bar features a different focus on ingredients, method, and taste where you can discuss all the details of brewing a great cup of coffee and learn to enjoy the differences between coffee varieties and brew methods. We also have a Breville brew station where you can work hands-on with one of our awesome baristas to learn how easy it is for you to brew great coffee at home.

All of the coffees we’re brewing can be purchased at the store along with the brew methods we’re using and limited edition Coffee Common merchandise. Come say hello, taste several great coffees and learn something new from a great team of baristas.

144 Tenth Ave. (At 19th Street)

Thursday: 11am – 6pm
Friday: 11am – 7pm
Saturday: 11am – 6pm
Sunday: 11am – 6pm

Special Events:
Saturday: GiltCity Tasting (buy tickets)
Sunday: Skillshare Espresso Class (buy tickets)

posted by on 01.19.2012, under Misc.

Coffee Common is Coming to NYC


After two back-to-back events last July, in Edinburgh & London, Coffee Common is returning to the US. This time, setting up shop for 4 days in New York City. The team has partnered with Rachel Shechtman, founder of A Startup Store, to offer a pop-up coffee experience in a city whose access to quality coffee continues to grow.

Coffee Common has partnered with Google+ to broadcast “hang-outs” throughout the event and Breville will be giving away some of their latest home brewing equipment. There will be stations for comparative tasting, brewing demos and baristas to help troubleshoot home brewing problems and answer questions about coffee. On the weekend, there will be events scheduled in partnership with GiltCity and SkillShare.

Just like past events, this is more than a temporary coffee bar. Since coffee sales aren’t the goal, baristas and customers can engage without worrying about a line of people building up behind them. The atmosphere is designed to learn, share and discuss—all while enjoying some exceptional coffee (from Counter Culture, Gimme!, Intelligentsia, Heart and Ritual) prepared by a team of world class baristas. This event will be espresso free and focus solely on filtered black coffee. If you’re in New York, mark your calendar!

This will be an amazing event that I’m excited to be a part of bringing to NYC.

Coffee Common

Watch Coffee Common in action at last summer’s TEDGlobal conference:

[photo credit: Stefan Georgi]

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posted by on 01.06.2012, under Misc., Videos