New York, you've been warned. A motley crew of migrant coffee professionals is set to land in your city next week. They're here to school you—in a friendly way—and they may also fix your grinder for you.
Coffee Common, a sort of bookmobile of coffee knowledge that's successfully deployed at TED events in the US and abroad (as well as at a one-day London pop-up) comes to Chelsea January 19–22, at A Startup Store, a conceptual space near the High Line that plans to showcase rotating "exhibits", such as this interactive coffee experience.
What is happening exactly? Coffee Common's four-day stint will act as an educational community outreach for everyone from the coffee connoisseur to the simply coffee-curious, taking brewing out of the cafe space and delivering it in a super-personalized, non-intimidating form.
For a door price of $5, visitors can circulate between three different stations, each offering a different way to taste and understand coffee and coffee brewing, guided by talented baristas from across North America. You can bring your coffee equipment from home, and ask your baristas to show you how to get the most out of your device. Or you can bring a coffee you love, and try it out on Aeropress, Chemex, or V60 dripper with personal attention. Or you can simply try out the coffees they'll already have on hand—from roasters like San Francisco's Ritual Coffee, Portland's Heart, Ithaca's Gimme! Coffee, Durham's Counter Culture Coffee, and Chicago's Intelligentsia—and learn more about what makes great coffee great.
Guided tastings will be available both vertically, like an Ethiopian Haru brewed in different methods, or horizontally, such as tasting several different coffees all brewed in an Aeropress. Another—most interesting!—station will allow guests to try coffee brewed to high standards versus coffee brewed intentionally poorly, such as comparing coffee ground just before brewing to the same coffee ground a week prior, coffee brewed with filtered water to the same coffee brewed in cruddy water, and so on.
Most of all, the event seeks to take away the attitude and commerce associated with traditional coffee shop environments, and simply focus on getting people excited about their coffee, and making it better.
"We've found that consumers really like to be engaged in this sort of environment, where it's away form a cafe, with multiple roasters and multiple baristas, and the thing we're there to sell them is how to make coffee better, how to support their curiosity and enjoy it further," said Coffee Common's Brent Fortune. (Besides knowledge, there will also be a variety of brewing devices, scales, kettles, and beans available for purchase.)
"We really want to focus people on a few things," said Fortune. "Using good beans, grinding just before brewing, using good water, and following a recipe." Sound too fussy? "Don't be scared," laughs Fortune. "We will hold your hand and walk you through it. It's really safe."
Coffee Common takes place January 19-22 at A Startup Store, 144 Tenth Avenue at 19th Street, New York (map). Opening hours are 11-8 Thursday, 11-7 Friday, and 11-6 Saturday and Sunday.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs and writes about coffee and tea all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently compiling photographs of the best coffee in the world to be published by Presspop later this year.