We love a coffee shop that exists outside of the typical coffee shop setting. (Luckily we get to see our fair share of them as part of the Build-Outs of Coffee.) Sometimes, we get to watch as a brand start off as an auxiliary offering before growing into the main attraction. And that’s exactly what we are checking out today with Touchy Coffee in Troy, New York.
The Upstate coffee roaster began life as a cafe inside Superior Merchandise Co., a clothing and lifestyle boutique. Then, in 2020, Touchy decided to start roasting for themselves and have now taken to hanging a shingle of their own. Keeping limited hours, the new roastery space keeps limited hours and forgoes the traditional sit-and-stay-a-while cafe routine. It’s a space made to mingle, to start with a cup of coffee and see where that takes you.
As told to Sprudge by Jim Osborn.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
After years of operating a quality-propulsive and hospitality-minded cafe within our sister-boutique-shop Superior Merchandise Co., we began sourcing and roasting for ourselves as Touchy Coffee in 2018. To this day, we remain a small and enthusiastic team that seeks out vibrant coffees from smallholder producers. We aim not only to roast their coffees as sensationally as possible, but to convey what makes them so special with highly intentional and evocative presentations.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
We began roasting here in 2020, and long dreamt of turning the non-production portion of the space into a showroom/coffee bar/lab/classroom. It was important that the space be kept minimal and focused—it’s not a traditional cafe where folks are encouraged to sit and linger with laptops. The feeling that we were chasing is that best-case-scenario dinner party dynamic when everybody ditches the formal trappings of the evening and just winds up hanging out in the kitchen, where old friends and strangers alike are most likely to go down the best conversational rabbit holes and swap the juiciest stories. With that in mind, there’s no front counter, no conspicuous barrier between the folks making stuff and the folks enjoying it. The original Coffee Collective space was a huge inspo in that respect!
Splashes of color, an abundance of plants, and a huge window into the roasting side of the facility (doubled up by a large mirror on the opposite wall) all serve to reinforce that this place really is all about making coffee and making conversation, with minimal frills distracting from those two core pursuits. We’re only open “to the masses” on weekends, offering a limited drinks menu and some next-level delicious sandwiches and snacks from our in-house chef Zvi. During the week the space is reserved for our own quality assurance and for hosting/training wholesale partners.
What’s your approach to coffee?
On the sourcing side, our goal is to “shrink” the supply chain as much as possible, and our ways of making this happen are: A) working with laser-focused importing partners who have earnest personal relationships with their producing partners, B) working with the same producers year over year whenever possible (maybe add in our longest relationship length?), C) purchasing all of a producer’s production when possible, D) keeping the producer at the forefront of our coffees’ presentations by exclusively serving single-origins.
When roasting, we aim to accentuate the most distinct and vibrant aspects of what first caught our attention when we sampled the coffee, while bringing enough juiciness and balance through production roasting to encourage folks to brew our coffees however they like. And in service, we proudly rotate everything across methods, whether on batch brew, espresso, flash-brewed iced coffee, or fancy single cups.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
We outfitted this space with tried and true machinery—La Marzocco Linea Classic, Nuova Simonelli Mythos, Ditting, FETCO, AeroPresses galore. Our coffee menu rotates each weekend to offer what we’re most excited about, and it’ll often be the sole showcase for super small lots. This past weekend, for example, we had two single-variety lots from longtime producer partner Jorge Rojas—his all-day winner Caturra or his otherwordly honey-processed Gesha. For the best of the best and the rarest of the rare, ya just gotta show up :P
How is your project considering sustainability?
In terms of environmental sustainability, we do our best to uphold best practices in every facet of the business, from ingredient sourcing to disposable cup selection, and we detailed our green coffee sourcing values above. As importantly, we are conscientious of our sustainability from a human perspective, aiming to provide meaningfully sustainable work to our team members by diversifying everybody’s workload—all of our team members split time between working on bar and in the roastery.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
We opened in May!
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
Our fearless leaders—Mike Romig and Felicity Jones—were the creative directors for the entire project, enlisting Ethan Carmody for the final design and buildout. Light fixtures and other flourishes were done by Elise McMahon and Like Minded Objects, and our ceramics were made by Phill Kim of PKK Ceramics.