After more than a dozen years of sourcing and roasting coffee for some of New York City’s finest restaurants, hotels and caterers, Afficionado Coffee Roasters has opened a retail location all its own, in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen.
The company is simultaneously rolling out an innovative line of canned coffee drinks using coffee beans and fruit (cascara), as well as other coffee plant ingredients such as pergamino (parchment), leaf and blossoms. The company is emphasizing these ingredients as “the five consumable parts of the coffee plant.”
The Afficionado Cafe
The Afficionado cafe is soft-opening this week on the southeast corner of 11th Ave. and West 53rd St. in Hell’s Kitchen, directly across the street from Dewitt Clinton park.
The 1,200-square-foot cafe is designed to transport Manhattanites to faraway locations around the coffee belt with a touch of luxury, while also meticulously showcasing the Afficionado brand.
The shop’s design concept — which Afficionado Coffee Roasters Co-Founder and CEO Adam Bossie described as having modern, “elegant safari” vibe — was led by local firm Studio Galeón.
While Bossie noted that coffee is indeed serious business, particularly at the farm level, the shop is intended to reflect a lighter appreciation for coffee in an environment that is both fun and somewhat cosmopolitan.
Said Bossie, “It’s light sophistication, but we’re talking about coffee here.”
Elements of tropical style combine with modern arrangements for a relaxed and spacious experience, while decorative art throughout the shop come from Bossie’s own world travels.
“Even down to the hand soaps that we’re using in the bathroom, they’re artisanal products from local companies like Malin + Goetz — there’s no missed element in what we’re doing,” said Bossie. “This is more of an ‘experience’ coffee shop than it is, you know, a coffee shop there to generate a ton of money.”
Fresh food items prepared at the shop are similarly designed to reflect world travels, while they may eventually be paired with beer and wine offerings. A cocktail program in the works may emphasize “the five consumable parts of the coffee plant.”
For the soft-opening stretch a La Marzocco Strada holds down the espresso menu behind the bar until a GB5 supplants it in the days to come, while a Fetco system turns out batch brew. For manual brews, Bossie is passionate about promoting a method he thinks has forlorn by the industry: the coffee sock.
“Nobody talks about coffee socks, and when I backpack through South America and Africa, it’s the one thing I would never leave home without,” said Bossie. “Nobody [in the U.S.] uses it, and it brews — if you do it right — amazing coffee, and that’s how all the families that work on the farms brew their coffee. So we’re really going to push this hardcore at the coffee shop.”
Coffees come from the same Afficionado’s New Jersey roastery under the watch of a crew led by Peter Turso on a 1955 90-kilo-capacity Gothot roaster. The roastery is where Afficionado now produces and cans its RTD beverages.
The Five Consumable Cans
Afficionado’s new canned drink line adopts the notion that natural coffee byproducts that might otherwise be wasted can serve as compelling ingredients while also adding revenue sources for producers.
While cascara — the dried layer of coffee cherry fruit surrounding the bean that offers tart, fruity flavors — has received the most attention in the coffee industry, Afficionado is taking the notion further through utilizing the blossoms from coffee plants, pergamino (parchment) and coffee tree leaves.
Raw ingredients are coming through relationships with farms in Peru and Bolivia, according to the company.
The five-drink line includes a straight cold brew involving a 14-hour steep of a single-origin semi-washed Typica coffee grown near Lambayeque, Peru. The sparkling Cascara concoction features a Caturrra cherry dried on raised beds in Caranavi, Bolivia, with dashes of hibiscus, rainier cherry and lime.
The Blossom drink makes use of flowers picked from young Gesha coffee trees, according to Afficionado. The dried, steeped blossoms combine with elderflower, chamomile and other ingredients in the finished beverage.
The Ginger Husk beverage utilizes the thin layer of parchment shed by coffee beans during processing. The material is combined in the finished product with ginger and panela sugar.
A forthcoming Coffee Leaf drink features material from routine post-harvest pruning. Afficionado mixes its leaf brew with mint and watermelon flavors, suggesting it as a chilled beverage.
“We’ve looked at every aspect of how they use these products at the farm,” said Bossie. “We really needed to look and see how these segments of the coffee plant were reincorporated from every perspective. For us to be able to import it and utilize it as a beverage creates another revenue stream for our producers and for our workers… And the coffee leaf, you’re starting to see it come around. In five or six years, coffee leaf drinks are going to be massive. It’s probably going to be way bigger than cascara.”
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.