If Jamie Scott McCormick, Abraos indefatigable barista, owner, and driving force, seems even more ebullient than usual, its because hes 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 its a venerable industry in New York, one often relegated to tumbleweed zones like Red Hook, where Portlands Stumptown has put down East Coast roots. McCormicks 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 Abrao 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 Berkeleys legendary Caffe Mediterraneum, roasting beans is a long-held ambition, not a momentary fad, and hes been scouting real estate since even before he took Willem Boots advanced roasting course in Mill Valley last year. Although he has nothing but praise for the Counter Culture Coffee beans hes been using, McCormick is looking forward to crafting his very own house roast. One things for sure, if a bit heretical in these single-varietal times: Whatever the new Abrao 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.