Latte-loving Brooklynites looking for local caffeine will soon have more options, as the Brooklyn Roasting Company is back after facing hard times amid the pandemic and are better than ever, said the head black bean brewer.
“We are thrilled to have survived,” said Jim Munson, chief executive officer of Brooklyn Roasting Company. “At this point, we are on the other side of that and while it was difficult, it gave us a chance to really think hard about what we wanted to do going forward.”
The coffee company faced hard times during the pandemic and filed for bankruptcy in October 2020 while closing down two of its cafes, saying they’d be focusing on the wholesale side of their business. Though a rep for the company said a judge later dismissed the bankruptcy in court.
Now, though, the borough’s namesake coffee maker will expand their retail locations and launch a new brand in concert with The Breakfast Club’s Angela Yee.
Munson’s company teamed up with Yee when the nationally syndicated radio host approached the company last summer to develop a small line of coffee under a new brand coined “Coffee Uplifts People” to help get out the vote.
The collaboration — which, in addition to Yee, included her partners Tony Forte and Laron Batchelor — led to hundreds of coffee sales. Following that, Brooklyn Roasting Company decided to take the partnership a step further, helping the trio form their own coffee business designed to help introduce more minority and women-owned companies to the white monopoly of the coffee retail world, Munson told Brooklyn Paper.
“They have been really great partners and historically coffee has been dominated by white people on the retail side and we are looking to help,” Munson said. “A part of our mission is to represent the character and characters that make up Brooklyn and we are excited to extend specialty coffee to underserved neighborhoods and underserved populations.”
The first “CUP” cafe opening at the intersection of Bedford and Gates avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant at the end of August will kick off a wave of new openings for the coffee company over the next year.
The roasters will be opening another location later this year in One Clinton, a swanky new high-rise in Brooklyn Heights that will house a state-of-the-art library branch on its ground floor, and will be joined by a cafe curated by the borough’s staple food-festival organizers Smorgasburg, according to One Clinton’s website.
“That will be our first store that we have opened in several years,” Munson told Brooklyn Paper. “That alone is huge news for us that we are growing our retail again.”
They are on the search to open two more locations, one in Brooklyn and another in Manhattan that Munson said he expects to open by the beginning of next year, adding that they should be closing on the properties in the next couple of weeks.
Though locations are not all the company is expanding, they have also introduced two new flavors of peanut butter to its range of products — Sumatra Ketiara Peanut Butter and Ethiopian Natural Peanut Butter — which Munson says really highlight the differences between the coffee flavors used.
“You can really taste the difference between the two coffees we used in the peanut butter,” Munson said, “and it’s a way to demonstrate to people that there really are clearly distinguishable flavors in coffees.”
He said the new peanut butter products fit perfectly into their new, more concise messaging, “We are a serious but not snobby coffee company.”
“We experimented a little bit with how we could make specialty coffee or high-end connoisseur quality coffees more accessible to people in general,” Munson said.
To keep up with their stream of success, Munson said the company has made a few key hires in their wholesale division and found someone to lead the business in further retail expansion — which will kickstart more hiring down the road as they will have to staff new locations.
“We are excited to say that we are in the hiring mode again,” he told Brooklyn Paper.
The company is looking forward to continuing on the upswing — this time with the lessons learned from the worst days of the pandemic and with the bonds formed from working together through those times, Munson said.
“We really bonded as a group,” he said. “I feel like the company internally works much better than it did before.”