Here in Astoria, and throughout New York, the absence of brick and mortar (or even wheels or a food cart) have proved to be no obstacle for the creative, determined spirit of the city’s food and drink vendors. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Donaldson, the New York native behind Native Coffee Roasters, who channeled his all-encompassing love of coffee into a yearlong effort to secure roasting equipment and teach himself to roast coffee beans. At first giving away free test batches of his coffee, which he roasts locally in an Astoria warehouse, Brian has recently begun selling his fair-trade beans to the caffeine-craving populace.
Native Coffee imports green coffee beans from around the world and roasts them in small batches in a five-burner propane roaster. Brian then stamps each bag with a “Roasted On” date so that you know exactly when your beans were roasted. This week I sampled their Colombia La Arboleda, which had been roasted less than two weeks before, on April 19th. An excellent light roast, best prepared in a french press or drip coffee maker, this coffee was bright, fresh, and absolutely delicious.
The fact that Native Coffee Roasters made their retail debut at last month’s Queens County Market seems highly fitting. Since last April, the market has been providing support and coordinating locations for the city’s entrepreneurial food vendors to get their products directly into the hands of Queens residents. This Sunday, May 5th, Native Coffee Roasters will be selling their whole bean coffee at the Queens County Market’s Food & Brew event at SingleCut Beersmiths in Astoria. They will have their signature NYC Diesel on hand, a seasonally variable blend highlighting South and Central American beans and some additional roasts as well. They will also be debuting a new Cold Brew, perfect as the temperature begins its slow climb toward summer.
Also fitting is the fact that this month’s Food & Brew edition of the Queens County Market will be at SingleCut Beersmiths, which has displayed a true commitment to developing relationships with local shops and food vendors like Astoria Bier and Cheese, The Savory Pie Guy and many others. This weekend they will debut their latest ‘lagrrr,’ Hank, a Juniper-tinged beer brewed specifically for the Strand Smokehouse and the SingleCut taproom. They will also unfurl their brand new awning, and have added some outdoor picnic table seating, further transforming the brewery into vibrant community gathering place that it has already proven to be.
When I met Brian last week, he told me about how he had to literally go across the country in his epic quest to secure a coffee roaster, and, without the opportunity to apprentice anywhere, he used books and videos on YouTube plus his own considerable coffee knowledge to learn to roast. It’s not surprising then that the Astoria community, the Queens County Market, and SingleCut Beersmiths are excited to support his dedication and determination to create something great. We value that here in Astoria.
Queens County Market Food & Brew Event – Sunday, May 5th, 1pm to 5pm, SingleCut Beersmiths, 9-33 37th Street in Astoria