Where coffee roasters in New York get to show off

Sey Coffee, in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighbourhood, boasts a Nordic-style decor.
Sey Coffee, in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighbourhood, boasts a Nordic-style decor. PHOTO: NYTIMES

Sey Coffee and Nobletree in Brooklyn are set to get hipsters talking with their designed-to-impress flagship coffee bars

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - When a roaster opens a flagship coffee bar, it can be an ideas lab as much as a place to refuel: It is where you go to try something new.

In exchange, the roaster will put its best foot forward. Often, the staff is more attentive, the cups are nicer and the coffee is tastier.  

This season, two New York roasters are unveiling shops that are designed to impress.

One, the airy Sey Coffee, which opened in August in Brooklyn, is all raw concrete and whitewashed walls, a skylit showcase for a roaster with a following among 
coffee-heads who favour the bright, clean profile of the so-called Nordic style.  

Its owners, Mr Tobin Polk and Mr Lance Schnorenberg, started roasting in 2011 in a fourth-floor loft around the corner from the new shop. But it was not until 2014, after honing their skills with the influential Joanna Alm of Drop Coffee in Stockholm, that they found their audience.

Known then as Lofted Coffee, theirs was a cult coffee you were lucky to stumble across or hunted down.  


Mr Lance Schnorenberg, a co-owner of Sey Coffee, honed his roasting skills in Stockholm. PHOTO: NYTIMES

New store, new identity: The roaster is growing up. (Sey is “yes” spelt backwards.)

A sense of craft fills the space. Mr Polk built the burnished maple bench that runs along a cinder-block wall himself and the ceramist Erin Louise Clancy will set up a workspace in the back that will supply the shop.

Eventually, a false wall will be removed and a new roasting machine will be installed, but until then, beans will be carted over from the loft.  

A roaster taking a similar tack is Nobletree Coffee, which has locations in the World Trade Center and the DeKalb Market Hall (with a second stall 
to open in the hall this year).

Nobletree is unveiling a shop in front of its Brooklyn roasting facility that sets out to make a statement, a state-of-the-art coffee bar with all the shiny toys: a gurgling Steampunk brewer, a streamlined Modbar brewer and espresso machine, kegs of nitrogenised cold brew on tap.  

While the other Nobletree locations are built for speed, this is a place to nerd out, a destination coffee bar.

It helps that the roaster is in a mid-19th-century warehouse, on a pier with a postcard view of the Statue of Liberty across the harbour. The setting is worth the trip.  

Mr Eric Taylor,  general manager of Nobletree, says the purpose of the coffee bar is not to make sales, but to create a tasting room, a place where you can refine your palate.

Nobletree is a part of FAL Coffee, which owns coffee farms and a processing mill in Brazil.

Some of the beans that make it to Brooklyn are the cream of those crops – the baristas behind the counter are familiar with every link of the supply chain.

The official opening date is Sept 8, but the coffee bar has been serving those intrepid enough to walk along the pier and tap on the window.