Jesse Daino, co-owner of Recess Coffee Co., checks beans as they roast.
Photo by Ami Olson.
continued “The more the merrier,” said Doug Nicolaisen. He opened The Kind Coffee Company nearly 16 years ago on the West Side. “There’s always room for more… anything that gets people off the big-name, big-box stuff.”
It’s a surprising sentiment echoed by several other Syracuse roasters.
Matt Goddard, who opened Café Kubal in Eastwood in 2007, opened his second café at 601 Tully this summer and plans to open a third in the Dey Centennial Plaza sometime next year.
“It’s so wide open still,” Goddard said. “There’s still room for several more roasters to come into town.”
And the roasters at Recess Coffee Co., Shambala Café and Coffee Roaster and Hyman Smith Coffee agree — not that they’d all be thrilled to have more competition, of course.
So how is Syracuse supporting so many different roasters? And how is there room for more?
Though the most caffeine-addicted would argue it’s a staple, coffee ranks as a luxury item — one of those pleasures we can, in fact, live without — and it’s no secret many households have cut back on spending in recent years.
But the price of specialty coffee, like the beans roasted locally, is not necessarily any higher than the lower-quality supermarket stock, said John Kupperman, who owns Smith Restaurant Supply and supervises roasting for the shop’s Hyman Smith Coffee line.
Half-pound (8-ounce) bags of freshly roasted beans start around $8, Kuppermann pointed out. Consumers get tricked into thinking they’re paying less at the grocery store when they’re really just purchasing less coffee, since the bags consumers think are a full pound are typically only 12 ounces.
Take cost out of the equation, and the success of local coffee roasters comes down to two components, roasters say: the quality of the beans, and freshness of the roast.
And in Syracuse, every roaster boasts theirs are best-quality beans. Each region of the globe grades beans differently, using a different scale to denote quality, and top-quality beans from every reach of the planet are shipped to the Salt City for roasting.