With all the attention that's been given to Sweetwolf's, the restaurant that will be opening soon on Sixth Avenue and 12th Street, one thing that's being slightly overlooked is the fact that every day from 7 AM - noon the space will serve as the flagship location of Forty Weight Coffee, an upstate small-batch roaster.
Matt Marks, who co-owns the company with roastmaster Andrew Ballard, will be the shop manager, personally brewing espresso and coffee using the "pour-over" technique. "We'll be the first coffee shop in the city that's actually run by the roasters themselves," said Matt. "We'll have control over the prep of the coffee and be able to make sure that each cup is perfect." They'll also be offering bread and pastries baked in-house overnight, in the 700-degree wood-burning oven as it cools down.
Even though the shop will officially turn back into Sweetwolf's at noon, Matt has been working hand in hand with owners Tim Judge and Eric Wolf, and will be training the staff, to make sure that the exact same cup of coffee will be available at all hours of the day.
Ithaca natives Marks and Ballard had been friends for over ten years before they began selling their specialty blends at the Syracuse farmer's market every Saturday. Their attention to freshness, detail, and high-quality beans quickly gained them a loyal following, and as it began to catch on, they started selling wholesale to retail stores, including Grab and Blue Apron Foods in Park Slope, and Steeplechase in Kensington. It soon became evident that they needed a brick-and-mortar storefront, though.
"It's hard to go into a cafe or specialty store and cold call," said Marks. "We're so small, and it's hard to compete with big guys like Stumptown and Counter Culture."
"It was always in our plan to have a coffee shop," added Tim. "So our meeting was very timely."
And serendipitous, as well. Marks lives in the neighborhood, and was working as an organizer for trivia nights at bars and restaurants including Toby's Public House, which Tim managed. They hit it off, and when Tim learned that Marks was in the coffee business the decision was a no-brainer.
"We're so small that we can put much more care and attention into what we do," said Marks. "We're a small batch roaster, only roasting nine pounds at a time. When you hit a certain size, it's hard for the quality to not be diluted."
That quality, and creativity, should be evident from the first cup (and from the slogan in their logo). "Andrew is very forward thinking, and likes to push the envelope," Marks said. For example, along with their special espresso blend they'll also be offering a single-origin espresso (from one variety of bean instead of many), which is akin to a single malt scotch.
And as this is the flagship location, there'll be plenty more surprises to look forward to.