The action in Asbury Park trends east. Ocean air, boardwalk vibes, and a hot new hotel all help. But lately, locals have been hitting up the rising northwest side to caffeinate. There, Booskerdoo Coffee Company has planted its headquarters just over the tracks, uniting a roastery, bakery, and coffee bar over 2,000 square feet. When you’re used to roasting in an 800-square-foot space shared with a cafe, that’s a mighty upgrade.
“Our original space in Monmouth Beach was a nook,” laughs James Caverly, who launched Booskerdoo with wife and head baker Amelia Caverly in 2011. “We had a Diedrich IR-12, and we were running that thing 40 hours a week. The space was just insane.” He’s not joking. Roastmaster Michael Costaney would work from a chair perched atop bags of beans.
In a way, that image perfectly describes Booskerdoo’s origins. Caverly fell hard for coffee living in New York City and experimented by roasting Colombia Excelso in a pizza pan. It was a smoky affair, but he was hooked. “It wasn’t some fancy micro-lot,” he says, “but we were like holy…”.
Opened in October 2016, Booskerdoo's Asbury Park flagship now allows the team room to stretch—though not too much room. The bakeshop now has dedicated space, turning out all manner of sweetness. The roaster has been upgraded to a Diedrich CR-25, complemented by a La Marzocco GB5, Mahlkönig grinders, and a Wilbur Curtis drip brewer, plus a Beehouse and Hario pour-over setup.
Vibrant coffee is the result, some with cheeky names for both food and drink reflecting Caverly's prior life as a writer. Humor extends to the walls, where a painted monkey-astronaut-merman shares space with a lion-cactus-octopus. No, really.
This is also one of three—count 'em—locations launched in under a year. Not that empire-building was the goal. Originally, only Asbury Park was in the plan, where the tight indie scene was a draw. While building out the space, Caverly was approached by Pier Village in Long Branch, where a shop opened last July will soon be paired with a summertime cold-brew shack. Then Bell Works came knocking. A reimagining of the Bell Labs campus—once home to seven Nobel winners and the birthplace of cellular tech—it blends innovation and lifestyle space, as is the fashion nowadays. A drip bar there will be upgraded to a full-on shop in August.
What hasn’t been lost in all the expansion is a coffee-for-all ethos. “We don’t want to function as a chain,” Caverly says. Walk into the Asbury shop as the sun climbs, and you might find Brooklynites on holiday, construction workers, fishermen, families, and commuters sharing counter space. Whether one wants to geek over a single-origin brew or stick to the basics, they’re welcomed just the same.
“We try to educate the customer about our coffee, but we always start with layman’s terms,” Caverly says. “You see the evolution, plain as day. They start to come back, and suddenly they’re trying different coffees and having fun with it—and it’s completely of their own volition.” It turns out that sometimes the nice guys do win.
Jenn Hall (@jennsarahhall) is a Sprudge contributor who writes about food, culture, and drink from a Jersey-side suburb of Philly. This is her first feature for Sprudge.