Barista Magazine

OCT-NOV 2017

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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F O A M : N E W S + T R E N D S MEISTER EXPLORES NEW YORK CITY'S RICH COFFEE HISTORY IN NEW BOOK NEW YORK CITY IS WITHOUT QUESTION one of the world's best- known and most cherished locales, for myriad reasons. While its associa- tion with coffee may not be one of its most distinguishing characteristics, however, New York City has a rich and storied relationship with the es- teemed beverage, starting with coffee's arrival in the 1600s and continuing with coffee as an important presence and infl uence on the city's culture. What's more, coffee in NYC has been boosted by the specialty resurgence of the last 10-plus years, with an enthusiastic community of quality-focused professionals ushering in a new era of coffee in New York. It's this rich subject matter that author Erin Meister (or simply "Meister," who is a regular contributor to Barista Magazine) mines in her new book, New York City Coffee: A Caffeinated History, released in July by Arcadia Publishing. A Tri-state native who lived in New York City and worked in coffee there for a dozen years, Meister sought to tell a New York coffee story that showed more than its recent specialty comeback. "I was very conscious of not wanting this to be 'the history of third-wave New York'—not because I don't fi nd that history interesting, since it's basically my coffee-life story in the city, but because I already knew a lot of that stuff," she says. "There is defi nitely some more modern-day coffee infl uence in the book, but I tried to focus on the lesser-known characters and companies who set the stage for today's really top-notch companies." These characters include Alice Foote MacDougall, the fi rst female coffee broker in the city, who would go on to become one of its most prominent coffeehouse owners; the New York Coffee Exchange, founded in the 1880s; and Chock Full o'Nuts, which was founded by Bill Black and at one time counted barrier-breaking baseball star Jackie Robinson as one of its VPs. "If it weren't for those people and institutions, none of us would be in Brooklyn and Manhattan and Queens doing what we're doing today," she says. "So it was important to me to bring those people back into the con- versation when we talk about the best coffee New York's ever seen." Though Meister was a longtime resident of New York City, she had re- cently moved to Minneapolis—where she works as a content specialist at Café Imports—when she got the call to write the book. She says that being recently removed from the city gave her new perspective to draw on. "The city was still really fresh and raw in my heart at that time," she says. "Being able to turn my attention to it in a different way—and from a somewhat new outsider's perspective—allowed me to discover things I would have simply continued overlooking if I still lived there, and it helped me fall right back in love with the place." She didn't write the book entirely removed from New York City however. "I ended up joking that I was 'commuting between New York and the Twin Cit- ies' for about a year," she says. "I went back almost every four to fi ve weeks to go to libraries, visit museums and shops and historic sites, and conduct really wonderful interviews with some of the most interesting people I've ever met." So what is it about New York City coffee that Meister fi nds so special? As a singular product, coffee offers a window through which one can view this historic place. "Coffee really is a mini-drama that tells a much larger story about the way the city operates, the way it lives and breathes like an organ- meet | learn | develop | grow We bring the vibrant European barista community together, online and in person, and drive opportunities for baristas and the barista profession to develop. Join us at one of our upcoming events or help build our community by becoming a member. Barista Camp 2017 | Poznan, Poland | October 9-12 CoLab: Belfast | Belfast, G= | late November 2017 Learn more at www.baristaguildofeurope.com 24 barista magazine

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