East Coast Roadtrip – NY and the CIA

Sorry I’ve been a little quiet on here of late – I’ve been rather busy. On Saturday Anette and I arrived into New York (how I hate thee customs) and were picked up by Cindy Chang to begin our two week tour from New York to Atlanta visiting all the Counter Culture Coffee training centres and other exciting places on the way.

We only had a short time in New York so coffee took priority over tourism. Struggling with jetlag we only managed to get to the Ninth Street on Ninth Street for a couple of great drinks before taking the baristas recommendations (thank Tal) and getting some good Mediterranean food into us, catching up with Katie Carguilo and then heading for the hotel.

I was a little nervous about our second day – I had been asked to re-enact my WBC performance in the middle of Chelsea Markets next to Ninth Street’s beautiful bar there. We fortified ourselves with a few coffees from Grumpy in Chelsea (Anette’s espresso was delicious, as were our brewed cups) before heading over to set up.

What made me even more nervous was the arrival of Andy Schecter and Abe Carmeli. Both great people, and both with very high standards when it comes to espresso and opinions I really respect. We had a little chat about all things coffee which I really enjoyed and then we started to set up. I was using a GS3 (an old one with the nicer buttons) and two brand new Super Jolly’s (which I ended up fighting a little). As I set up Katie and Zachary were selling $1 raffle tickets to be one of my four judges – I think they collected about $70 for CoffeeKids which was very cool. As it turns out I was to be strongly scrutinized – Andy Schecter had one of the spots.


Andy with his expensive water glass

I had no mic for the presentation (my voice is still suffering now) but quite a lot of people crowded round to watch. In fact I am told Molly Ringwald was even there, which was indescribably awesome and hilarious. The presentation went pretty well. I pulled shots of Counter Culture’s Biloya for my espresso, and then I used their Kenya for my capps. I wasn’t that happy with the shots – I hadn’t really dialled the coffees in to where I wanted them in time, and my hasty prep meant that I got the ratios a little wrong for my sig drink and the chocolate dominated as Abe rightly wrote up afterwards.

talking at Chelsea Markets

Talking (mostly with my hands) at Cheslea Markets

Having cleaned up and thanked everyone for their help, especially Ken and the Ninth Street crew, we with headed Liz Clayton and a few others, out to the new Gimme store with a particular purpose in mind: I wanted to meet James Hoffman.

Breaking the space time continuum we had some great coffee there and he very kindly tolerated our childish need to take pictures and giggle and the silliness of coincidence. This also seems like a good time to point out that my surname is spelled Hoffmann and every time you spell it differently you are making it harder and harder for this fine barista to find himself on Google. Think about that.

Hoffman and Hoffmann

Hoffman and Hoffmann

Zachary and Katie joined Cindy, Anette and myself that evening for a fine meal at the Tasting Room and it is great to see more restaurants taking to press pots, because it really is a muc more sensible way to serve delicious coffee to people after a meal (but that is a whole other rant).

The next morning I tried and miserably failed to buy a new camera lens, though BH Photo has to be seen to be believed. Having wasted an hour we headed out to Brooklyn to have a look at the Grumpy there which is now quite big, though has a totally different vibe to the one in Chelsea – it feels much more family friendly. The espresso was good too, though totally different to the one the day before (that may have been down to using different coffee – we didn’t ask). From there it was up to our final stop in NY – El Beit. Dan was, of course, working the bar and we had a little Clover sampler from there as they were dialling in a different espresso. There is some lovely detail on show in the bar, and the drinks being put out looked great. The sign outside also made me laugh a lot:


I wish I could draw this well

I am afraid I haven’t been as snap happy on this trip as I have been in the past but I will try harder.

We headed out of New York happy and caffeinated and headed up to the Culinary Institute of America. Cindy was been working with them for a while to improve the education in coffee that they provide. I was scheduled in to give two talks in their Danny Kaye theatre (their largest auditorium) and to be honest I was a little terrified:


Before my talk

The talks were well attended and a lot of fun, and I enjoyed talking about how previous signature drinks had come about and what challenges they had created though I did feel painfully aware that I wasn’t a chef as I faffed around the demo kitchen space. Anette very kindly pulled lots of good espressos so the drinks could come together better and lots of people stayed behind afterwards to chat and ask questions.

giving a lecture

Talking at the CIA

When I started in coffee I certainly never thought I would end up here, talking to both staff and faculty at a place like this, and I was delighted with the reactions I got as well as the interactions during and afterwards. A special memory for me.

Today we head on over to the barista jam at Easton, which should be a lot of fun and there are lots of coffee people there I am really looking forward to seeing.

barista jam

Barista Jam!

14 Comments East Coast Roadtrip – NY and the CIA

  1. Pingback: haven

  2. Anthony Epp

    They finished building the Library with the Danny Kaye Theater in my final year of school there. It’s nice to see they are finally getting somebody talking about something important in that beautiful place. I am also glad they are starting to take coffee seriously. Although I feel I must confess I guilty of thinking of coffee in the same way during my restaurant years. Warms my heart to see it changing.

  3. Pingback: I wanna talk about Head Samplers » Blog Archive » Quick scan of the net - head sampler

  4. Pingback: Chemically Imbalanced (espresso-jogged screeds) » Blizzarding

  5. keith

    Seems like you are having an exciting trip James ,your mum and i are keeping up to speed on your blog, an interesting article in the local press. good luck to u both with the remainder of your mission


  6. Eddie

    Thanks for stopping in James! It was a pleasure to make you guys coffee. Like I said, you can either drop of your resume at the shop or just email it to me. I think we have a spot for you..ha ha. Take care.

  7. Pingback: Chemically Imbalanced (espresso-jogged screeds) » in praise of the kitchen sink

  8. AndyS

    > What made me even more nervous was the arrival of Andy
    > Schecter and Abe Carmeli….
    > …As it turns out I was to be strongly scrutinized –
    >Andy Schecter had one of the [judging] spots.

    Hey James: for me it was a thrill: to meet you and Anette, hang out, think about things to come, talk about the profiling pump, taste a few shots, hang out a little more, try and understand your brit accent , watch your technique, think about how I might apply it to my own espresso, shoot a few pics, exult in my luck on winning a seat at the table, taste some more coffee, and enjoy the happiness that came from meeting you guys. No worries, it was all good!

  9. Pingback: danny kaye

  10. Pingback: danny kaye

Leave A Comment