Gregory's to begin roasting beans themselves
King’s students are known to frequent the Gregory's Coffee location at 42 Broadway in the Financial District, a few steps away from the school's front doors. Because King's does not offer students a meal plan and has no cafeteria or bevy of beverage and food restaurants, like many other colleges do, the coffee shops and restaurants in close proximity to the school are even more valuable to students. With reasonable prices, frequent deals (such as making a paper snowflake and bringing it in to receive a free coffee) and half-priced pastries after 4:30 PM, Gregory’s Coffee has fueled homework sessions, meetings and intense studying during midterms and finals.
Currently, Gregory's uses beans from Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, a popular coffee chain in New York. But over the next few months Gregory’s will be transitioning into roasting coffee for themselves in a recently acquired commissary in Long Island City, much to the excitement of coffee connoisseurs.
Since the company’s launch in 2006, Gregory’s has maintained an intense involvement in the sourcing and roasting process of their beans. Gregory’s holds their current roaster, Irving Farm, to high roasting standards to ensure that the quality of coffee they are serving remains high. They work directly with coffee growers to better control the sourcing process and to be able to source fairly from small farmers that do not qualify for Fair Trade Certification. Martha Reutlinger, the weekend manager at the 42 Broadway location, recalls Gregory’s shift to offering single-origin brews as part of the inspiration for and first step to taking roasting into their own hands. Their decision to roast is just the next step in the same vein of control and quality that they’ve always strove for.
The only new resources that the company has purchased for this new phase are in the form of equipment—the commissary in Long Island City and two new roasting machines. Otherwise, the company looked within their existing resources to maneuver the shift.
After sending out applications to existing employees and appointing a Head Roaster and Assistant Roaster from among their managers, the roasting duo traveled to Wisconsin for a Roaster Skills Retreat. Small and large roasters came from all over the world to workshop and take classes in the art of roasting coffee.
Shaina Cowen, a shift manager at the 42 Broadway location who has worked for the company for two years, said about her experience being promoted to Assistant Roaster, “This whole company is very dedicated to giving everybody an opportunity. They could have totally hired somebody from outside, and it would have been easier for them. But they’re really dedicated to giving everyone opportunities.”
Cowen was originally hired as a barista with no previous coffee experience, and has since become interested in roasting and importing beans. She describes working for Gregory’s like being part of a large family—and with good reason: Gregory Zampotas founded the company with the help of multiple family members. As of now, his wife is in charge of the human resources department, his sisters are in charge of interior design for the stores and payroll for employees and his father is in charge of the bakery (which will also be relocating to their new facility in Long Island City).
Customers from all over the world come into Gregory’s and fall in love with their coffee: “They ask where they can buy it, and when there will be a Gregory’s opening in Japan,” said Cowen. Though opening a location in Japan is not on the list of upcoming priorities, roasting their own beans means that in the future Gregory’s could not only be a supplier of lattes and pour-overs to New Yorkers, but also of beans for other coffee roasters and coffee drinkers around the world.
About six months ago Gregory’s committed to expanding into this new aspect of the coffee business. Reutlinger heard of the news through the grapevine around that time, but the change was finalized when they purchased the Long Island City commissary. Over the next few months, Cowen and the roasting team will be working under the supervision of a hired professional roaster and learning the process through virtual applications as well as hands-on experimentation. Cowen said her first roast was average, though the beans were high quality. She describes the experience as a trial-and-error process and is grateful that Gregory’s is giving the new roasting team all the time they need to perfect their skills before launching later this year.