After starting as part of the Pulley Collective, City of Saints opens doors to other roasters
BY JEREMY MARTIN
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
There are a lot of ways to build a community, but few things bring people together quite as well as fresh roasted coffee. That’s the general idea behind Brooklyn, New York’s City of Saints Coffee Roasters.
The toll-roaster with cafe outlets in Manhattan and Hoboken aims not only to unite those residing near its cafes around a great cup of coffee but to also rent space and time to other area roasters so that everyone involved in the local coffee industry can come together to share ideas and knowledge.
œA lot of people have asked why we would allow other roasters to come in and roast their coffee in our location. And many of our competitors may feel apprehensive or intimidated by sharing information,” says Troy Waller of City of Saints. “But we feel there is room for everybody, particularly those that can offer new and unique products and programs.”
The company, which recently moved its base of operation to a roasting space in the Flatbush neighborhood, creates its coffees on a new, highly programmable Loring S35, which grants City of Saints, and others that use the machine the ability to create consistent high-quality coffees each and every time.
œThe Loring, we’re happy with [it] from a number of perspectives,” says Troy. “The eco-friendliness of it, we didn’t have to install an afterburner, you don’t get those lingering heavy smells when your roasting. More was the fact that we could get the exact consistency we wanted each and every roast. The fact that it’s computer controlled, once we set a profile we can repeat that profile almost identically each time.”
This consistency has allowed City of Saints to grow rapidly over the past two years, from ”ironically enough ”a company that leased time at the Pulley Roasting Collective in Red Hook, to being on the verge of opening its third retail cafe, which will be adjacent to the roasting facility in Flatbush.
œThe area we are in is a cool, hip area,” Troy continues. “There is a lot of business around us, a lot of people that have expressed interest in purchasing decent coffee. The addition is two fold ”one to appease and serve our neighbors in the area and meet their needs, but we also want the location to be as interactive as possible.
That aim means bringing the baristas and customers closer together and creating an atmosphere of community and congeniality by breaking down the proverbial wall between the two parties. What’s more, City of Saints eliminates the literal separation wall, as well, with a Modbar espresso machine.
œThat was really the brain child of my colleague [head roaster] Joe [Palozzi],” says Troy. “Initially it was driven partially by the design of our location and that we wanted to maximize the interaction and experience between the barista and customers. A traditional espresso machine can be inhibiting to that interaction. We tested it for a long time and we thought the results we were getting were matching what we had in the past. And people love it. From an operational perspective, its a little easier to use than a traditional machine. In terms of dialing it in and making adjustments, its actually a pretty simple process.
Adjusting ‘on the fly’ is kind of the way of the world for City of Saints. Although all owning and managing parties came to the company with extensive business and coffee backgrounds, the company is choosing to grow organically and make adjustments to the business as necessary, as opposed to aggressively growing towards stated operational goals.
City of Saints has been working out of its own roasting facility for less than a year now, and even with a third store on the way and a slew of wholesale clients lining up for service, Troy says the company isn’t even scratching the surface of its potential in terms of capacity and roasting limits ”and that’s totally fine.
œWere not going to rush to grow our sales or to open stores just to meet the capacity of the roaster, Troy says. œWe understand that business is not going to grow so rapidly, that we’re going to hit capacity on this roaster [right away], and that gives us the opportunity to offer other roasters time on this roaster and in a facility where they can use our expertise and we can learn from each other.
Which is exactly how City of Saints intends to grow both its businesses and the community around it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeremy Martin is a freelance writer and photographer who has reported on coffee, craft beer, college sports, and business for a variety of publications over the past six years. A veteran of the café industry and graduate of Western Michigan University, Jeremy lives in Seattle where can often be found making sandwiches from whatever is left in the fridge and cracking wise for the amusement of his adoring wife Amanda.