Wow. As our 2015 Build-Outs of Summer series rolls on towards its inevitable conclusion in September, we remain continuously impressed by the efforts and attitudes of all our submitting cafes. But this one really takes the quote cake. City of Saints roaster Jim Osborn, who’s just about to open a sweet new roastery and cafe facility in trendy East Williamsburg, drops a serious truth bomb midway through this interview:
“Coffee is experiencing a beautiful influx of interest and intellect these days, but I think that making the most of that without getting lost in its potential can be deceptively challenging.”
Again, wow. We expect these Build-Outs to be fun, colorful, and candid, but that level of poignancy and insight leaves us feeling like the Doge. The rest of the interview’s great, as well. Read on!
As told to Sprudge by Jim Osborn.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Yes! City of Saints currently operates one café in Hoboken, NJ and another in the East Village, Manhattan. After a few months of timeshare roasting over at Pulley Collective, we took root in an industrial neighborhood of Bushwick/East Williamsburg, where our Loring has lived since wintertime, and where we are currently putting the finishing touches on our third café. Thus far, our ambitions have been deliberately fluid, evolving with the people and opportunities that have come our way. Our production crew and baristas come from diverse coffee backgrounds, bringing awesome and eclectic ideas to the table—but we all share a considerable amount of criticism about the industry, as well. Our goal is to avoid pigeonholing ourselves into making the same mistakes we’ve made before, keeping open minds and dynamic outlooks that don’t necessarily conform to any particular wave. Disputes arise, sure, but we’d get nowhere without them!
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
This neighborhood has rightfully been getting a good deal of attention in the past few years as an incubator of art, food, and drink, and we’re incredibly excited to be a part of it. Roberta’s, Momo Sushi, The Well, Arts Helix, and countless pieces of street art big and small—these are just a few of our neighbors! As for the space itself, the energy is fed just as much by its past as its present. Looming around the roaster are the physical remains of what was once a steel smelting plant, and later became the site of many concerts and even an Arcade Fire video. The coffee bar sits toward the front, just beyond our loading dock, and customers will sometimes have the thrill of experiencing the interplay between production and retail, with our forklift navigating the space between the street and the roaster.
What’s your approach to coffee?
Like I mentioned earlier, our approach is to keep open minds. Coffee is experiencing a beautiful influx of interest and intellect these days, but I think that making the most of that without getting lost in its potential can be deceptively challenging. For that reason, we rely heavily on the feedback we get from everyone involved, doing our best not to get bogged down in one direction. Whether at the cupping table or the espresso machine, this conversation dictates the direction we take each coffee.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We’re launching the roastery with a fairly simple setup, showcasing three particular coffees we’re very excited about right now. Using a Nuova Simonelli Mythos grinder and a La Marzocco Linea espresso machine, we’re pulling a washed Ethiopian from Hambela, Guji, as espresso, and offering a Costa Rican microlot called Cascada Titina as pour over. Our cold brew is a naturally processed Yirgacheffe from the now-famed Misty Valley, an unabashedly fruit-forward, fat-bottomed, berry-laden refresher for the summertime. Behind the bar, the star is certainly our 70kg Loring Peregrine roaster.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We’re softly open right now, and aim to have our concept of the space more fully realized in the next few weeks, at which point we will, of course, have a wild party. [Editors note: COSC opened in July.]
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
The array of street art throughout Bushwick is absurdly humbling, and we knew early on that we wanted some of these artists to outfit the space. We got in touch with Dasic Fernandez and Mr. Nerds through the Bushwick Collective, a group that facilitates street art throughout the city. What they did with the space is incredible, a perfect bridge from the neighborhood to the roastery. In addition to the space’s interior, these guys’ art will be adorning our forthcoming retail coffee boxes.