Navy Yard

Brooklyn Roasting Company stages VIP tour of their Navy Yard headquarters

North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Members Get In-depth Look at Boutique Java Maker

February 13, 2018 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Left: Brooklyn Roasting Company co-owner Jim Munson with prospective members Samantha and Gordon Roth. Eagle photos by Andy Katz

“We wanted to take the opportunity to share with the wider community,” Brooklyn Roasting Company (BRC) director of sales Daniel Finn declared, guiding newly arrived guests indoors, where relief from biting chill winds was offered in the form of steaming cups of coffee brewed from an array of premium blends.

The tang of Finn’s Down-Under accent had been softened by several years spent in the Mother Country before embarking for the USA — and Brooklyn. “We’ve been here some 12 years now,” Finn continued. “Brooklyn Navy Yard has been a great location for us.”

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The Brooklyn Roasting Company brought members of the North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, along with some prospective guests, to their Navy Yard headquarters on Feb. 8 for a tour of their eclectic and innovative base.

“The coffee world is rich with history and heritage,” Brooklyn Roasting Company Co-Owner Jim Munson explained by way of the starting the evening’s tour. “We discovered that our flagship store in DUMBO … housed stables for the Arbuckle Brothers Coffee Company. Arbuckles was once the largest importer of coffee in the world. They produced almost all of the coffee west of the Mississippi … there’s just a ton of history associated with the Brooklyn waterfront.”

Indeed, as the tour progressed through BRC’s administrative area, evidence of the past abounded in the form of a old-style barber pole hung sideways above one doorway — apropos of nothing obvious — while on the base of a desk lamp fashioned from a wood bowling pin lay a set of antique skeleton keys.

Wood floors were salvaged from a basketball court and the desks were simply heavy sliding factory fire doors repurposed horizontally. Of course there were also flat-screen plasma displays, colorful fluorescent Brooklyn Roasting Company logos set high at strategic intervals, while upstairs gleaming roasters dominated the high-ceiling factory.

But, everything considered, should the Arbuckle Brothers suddenly resume their stewardship of American coffee at BRC headquarters, they wouldn’t find themselves too out of place here.

“We talk about coffee as a bean, but it’s really a seed, of the coffee fruit,” Finn explained after the tour assembled upstairs in the roasting room. “Unroasted coffee looks a little bit like pistachio nuts, and it really doesn’t have much aroma or flavor.”

Munson described the roasting process: “It’s a little like popcorn. The beans expand to nearly twice their size, and they actually soften, become more brittle. That’s where the aroma and flavor develop.”

“We import from Sumatra, Vietnam, South and Central America, to name just a few,” Finn pointed out.

“Flat pricing enables people to sample varieties from all over the world,” Munson added.

Asked about competition in the high end coffee world, Munson paused: “There are a lot of coffee companies — our ‘valued competition,’” he explained. “What makes us different is difficult to explain. It takes time to develop. Recently we saw some of our older customers jump ship because a new coffee provider opened up just down the street … it’s not easy to make money …  we ask ourselves all the time: ‘Is this too hard? Is it too easy?’”

North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce board member Norm Brodsky asked, “How much value is the name ‘Brooklyn’ adding to your company?”

“One of the smartest things I did was to get into business with the name ‘Brooklyn,’” Munson replied. “At first I thought the Brooklyn Brewery was the only Brooklyn company, but I worked for Brooklyn Brewery and helped to build it up, so I felt okay naming this Brooklyn Roasting Company.”

“We recognize that Brooklyn itself is always reinventing itself,” Munson explained. “The characters that make up Brooklyn are the like characters of our coffee are very colorful and bold.”

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