If Jamie Scott McCormick, Abraço’s indefatigable barista, owner, and driving force, seems even more ebullient than usual, it’s because he’s just signed a lease on a thousand square feet in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where he plans to start roasting coffee (and, if we know anything about the man, spinning vintage Brazilian-jazz LPs) in about three months. This is big news for coffee obsessives, a burgeoning New York demographic: Proprietary roasting seems to be the new specialty-coffee-shop frontier, even if it’s a venerable industry in New York, one often relegated to tumbleweed zones like Red Hook, where Portland’s Stumptown has put down East Coast roots. McCormick’s plant will inhabit one of these romantically marginal areas, too — the very northern fringe of Brooklyn, just across Newtown Creek from Queens.
The raw space has exposed brick and ceiling beams, and room enough for a commissary kitchen where Abraço chef Elizabeth Quijada will have the capacity to bake custom cakes, cookies for packaging, and bread for her daily-changing sandwiches (all to be sold out of the East Village storefront), and even to branch out into pickling. For McCormick, whose barista career began at Berkeley’s legendary Caffe Mediterraneum, roasting beans is a long-held ambition, not a momentary fad, and he’s been scouting real estate since even before he took Willem Boot’s advanced roasting course in Mill Valley last year. Although he has nothing but praise for the Counter Culture Coffee beans he’s been using, McCormick is looking forward to crafting his very own house roast. One thing’s for sure, if a bit heretical in these single-varietal times: Whatever the new Abraço coffee turns out to be, it will be a blend. “I want to create a consistent flavor profile with no obligations to any specific varietals,” says McCormick. “I want to approach it like Scotch-makers blend Scotch.”