22nd of January 2018
For New York coffee lovers, the ever-gentrifying Brooklyn neighbourhood of Williamsburg is specialty coffee paradise. As the neighbourhood becomes a sought-after territory for commercial business, there’s been a steady growth in third wave coffee shops in the neighbourhood for the past decade. Now, some of the biggest names in specialty coffee have settled camp in the Williamsburg area. Brands like Toby’s Estate, Blue Bottle, Gimme! and Variety all compete and try to distinguish themselves from the rest in an increasingly crowded industry. But one name making the rounds today is Devoción, a Colombian-owned specialty coffee business dedicated entirely to Colombian coffee and all of its splendour.
This farm-to-cup coffee shop sets itself apart from the rest by focusing on the coffee’s freshness and its single origin source. “What makes Colombia so special is that it is one of two countries in the world where there’s coffee growing all year around” says Jonathan Dreszer, the company’s CMO. The other country is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And like the Congo, “Colombia’s geographical location, its weather and soil, makes it a unique place”. Devoción, as the company’s name suggests, pledges its utmost loyalty to Colombian farmers with which they have a long-standing kinship. With a network of over 500 farms, Devoción is passionate and proud of its impact on the country’s agricultural economy, of which coffee is a principal component.
“One of the advantages in concentrating on one region is that we can understand people’s needs and can really help them.” Dreszer explains, “We created a sustainability department a few years ago to figure out what the needs of these farmers are. We create educational programs for the kids, we help them with water filtration and sometimes we even help with the growth of the coffee itself.” The result does not just benefit the quality of the coffee but helps an industry, which Colombia holds dear. Although many specialty coffee businesses claim to pay above fair trade prices, few commit to their growers to such lengths.
With a café already in Bogota and an upcoming one in downtown Brooklyn, Devoción is a fast-growing company with ambitions of expanding their business well beyond the East River.
Designed by architect Gregory Okshteyn and located within an old industrial brick-building, Devocion’s Williamsburg location is organized in two partitions: a roasting room and the café. The roasting facility is behind glass doors allowing patrons to see it as they enter. It’s where they roast their green coffee beans delivered from mills in Bogotá within just days, a remarkably fast turnaround compared to other roasters that can take months to receive shipments. The café is made-up of an open space with cosy leather sofas and a vintage serving counter, lit by a skylight stretched in the middle of the ceiling. It’s a pleasant, comforting place to stop by for a quick espresso or a warm cup of pour over while you read.
In addition to their wide-ranging coffee menu of espresso-based and filtered drinks, they have a nice variety of drafts including what they call cascara, made of the juice extracted from the pulp of wet-milled coffee cherries spritzed with chilled sparkling water, making it a refreshingly antioxidant-rich delight. Such offerings are part of Devoción’s efforts to educate the public on all things coffee. According to Dreszer, it’s all part of, “Showing all we can do with coffee, we shed a light on different uses of coffee and shed a light on Colombia as well.”