At Joyride we're lucky enough to interact with some of the best coffee roasters in America. But unfortunately for most coffee drinkers, that access is usually limited to chatting up a barista or attending a public cupping. In an effort to bring about more communication between you two star-crossed lovers, we're sitting down with each of our partners to get their insights on sourcing, the coffee industry and more.
Here's our first installment with Toby's Estate's Head of Education, Allie Caran.
1. What is your earliest memory of coffee? What prompted you into the specialty industry?
Coffee has always been a keystone beverage in my family. My Dad takes every opportunity possible to brew coffee fresh. Growing up in Jersey, he used to take me to diners on a weekly basis, and I'd drink half of the small creamers and fill the rest up with coffee. It was my favorite treat. I began my career in specialty coffee while I was working in Baltimore as a glassblower. A very notable chef who was building a restaurant purchased a Synesso and stored it in one of the artists' studios. We had no clue how to use it, but it was the first time I had used an espresso machine and I was hooked. I ended up working with that restaurant as their Director of Coffee.
2. Working in this field can be tough. What were some of the early challenges Toby’s faced early on?
Early on, our greatest challenge was really getting an understanding of our demographics palate and solidifying our Bedford Espresso Blend. While experimenting with various roast profiles and blend compositions, we were able to settle on a blend using Colombian and Ethiopian components that was bright and malty and most importantly, could be enjoyed with or without the accompaniment of milk. It has remained one of our best selling espressos to this day and is served daily at our flagship location in Williamsburg café.
3. Who in the coffee industry do you guys admire, and why?
I am continually impressed with the work of World Coffee Research. WCR is a non-profit, whose Directors and Members are comprised of both Scholars and Coffee Professionals. Their work takes a scientific approach to developing scalable, socially and environmentally sound projects that enhance the livelihood of coffee Producers worldwide.
4. We know coffee comes from a variety of regions. Is there any area of the world that has particularly surprised or impressed you recently?
I think this season’s gem, and my personal favorite, is the Kavugangoma from Burundi. The Kavugangoma Washing Station, located in the Muyinga Province, serves over 2,000 shareholders and has introduced many state-of-the-art water filtration methods for both coffee processing and community consumption. The rich volcanic soil is planted with the notable heirloom Bourbon variety in an agriculturally diverse environment. It provides an unbelievable floral aroma with a fruity, confectionary sweetness. Think blackberries covered in syrup.
5. Tell us more about your approach to sourcing and how you make the decision of which coffees to carry.
We source seasonally, utilizing Direct Farm Relationships that we have cultivated over the years.
6. You walk up to a coffee bar - what’s your go-to order?
Always a macchiato.
7. What is one piece of advice you would give a novice coffee drinker?
Try everything with an open mind. Coffee is expansive, don't let yourself miss out on trying a new flavor, even if it's an undesirable one!
8. Toby’s Estate and its founders have roots in Australia - how do you think this Aussie influence translates to your coffees?
To be honest, beyond the flat white on our menu, I’m not sure if our founder's Australian heritage has much of a current influence within the company. Our team lives and roasts in Brooklyn. We come from a diverse cultural and professional set of backgrounds with a common theme of sourcing great coffee.
9. What do you think of the prevalence of Australian-owned cafes in New York City?
It’s wonderful to see so many great shops opening around us! It’s exciting to see how coffee has changed in NY over the last decade. There are so many great roasters and cafes to try.
10. Some people may not realize that the “Estate” in Toby’s Estate is a real place where coffee is grown - Finca Santa Teresa. How has this connection, if relevant, affected your approach to coffee?
It’s a fantastic thing to have vertical integration like we do with Finca Santa Teresa. It is a lovely farm that Toby has invested time and effort into to produce some fantastic, award-winning coffees. We opened our West Village location with a featured S.O.E from FST. Our relationship with the farm has allowed us to conduct interesting experiments with both drying and processing.
11. Toby’s is growing and we all see that at Joyride. What do you see for the future of the company?
I’m really excited to see what we accomplish over the next few years. There will always be an extra emphasis put on sourcing great seasonal offerings for our guests. We will continue to maintain our producer driven relationships along with actively seeking new ones. Within the next 6 months, our Green Buyer, Deaton Pigot will be traveling to Brazil, Colombia and Ethiopia.
Coffee is continually growing and shifting interpersonally, economically, agriculturally and scientifically. We are going to be there every step of the way.
As told by Nadia Sikander, Marketing Coordinator.