Retail Spotlight: Birch Coffee

Birch-Coffee-4.jpgTheir Success…With five locations around Manhattan and a roastery in Long Island City, Birch Coffee has become synonymous with quality coffee and a knowledgeable staff, all while maintaining an unfussy and approachable vibe in their presentation. Walking into any of their shops, it’s easy to see that owners Paul Schlader and Jeremy Lyman prioritize service and community for all guests, which is not always easy when the line extends out the door. A small chalkboard sign by the register happily declares “Birch Loves You.” Conversation cards are available on the front counter to help break the ice between strangers looking to chat, and each shop has its own lending library, encouraging visitors to stay and relax with a book. Plenty of guests also bring laptops to work, and all Birch locations are open until 8PM, so it’s easy to stop by after a 9-to-5 job (or 9-to-6 or -7) without feeling rushed. Birch truly embodies the friendly public-private space that many urban residents look for in their local coffee shops.

From the menus to the interior design, Birch shops directly reflect Schlader and Lyman’s personalities and attention to detail. Besides the usual espresso and pastry options, craft beer and wine are also available for those who are attracted to that community-oriented atmosphere but don’t need the caffeine kick. In the sweltering Manhattan summer time, cold brew is a huge seller – and fortunately for any guests who don’t want to leave the comfort of air conditioning, Birch delivers 64 ounce growlers for environmentally-friendly refreshment that’s big enough to go around. Schlader and Lyman also made fair trade, single-origin coffee fundamental to their brand before it was de rigeur, and they seem more than happy to share the joys of a superior brew; guests can sign up for by-appointment lessons in home-brewing, barista skills, and coffee appreciation.

The setting for these offerings are spaces that are tend toward the industrial, with unfinished tile work, mismatched furniture, and plenty of wood details. The aesthetic is rugged and hip, and it sets Birch apart from many coffee shops where meticulous interior design is the main attraction. Here, the coffee and the people are front and center. One exception is the iconic Birch logo and font, which unify all their shops and are available on assorted “Birchandise” through their store.

Take Aways…Birch has grown steadily since their opening by maintaining a great reputation for quality and a warm, welcoming aesthetic.  By roasting their own coffee, Birch maintains a connection to the entire supply chain, which helps them guarantee the best product for all their guests. Of course, many coffee shops provide great coffee, but what sets Birch apart is their down-to-earth presentation and welcoming details. In a busy New York day, getting good coffee quickly is expected, but being able to really enjoy it is their recipe for success.

 

 

Chobani Hops on the Sriracha Train

Sriracha, the beloved chili sauce that is a standby condiment everywhere from college dorms to ramen shops, has a found an unlikely bedfellow: Chobani, the greek yogurt brand that first made regular yogurt sales shake in their boots. Chobani plans to unveil a number of new flavors next year, including Sriracha Mango and other spicy varieties, in order to maintain momentum that might finally be showing signs of flagging. Although sales trends have still been positive, and brand representatives cite 11% growth for 2015, they are looking to avoid the fate of other greek yogurt brands like Müller, which was recently discontinued by PepsiCo in the US.

The Sriracha Mango variety is one of a number of “Flips” that Chobani is introducing – to-go varieties which include a small side container of mix-in items along with the yogurt. Other flavors include Chipotle Pineapple, Peanut Butter and Jelly, and limited-edition flavors like a Peppermint Flip, Apple Cinnamon, and Maple.

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