All photos c/o Coffee Project New York.
In 2015, Coffee Project New York co-founders Chi Sum Ngai and Kaleena Teoh quit their jobs and opened a coffee shop as a passion project in New York City’s East Village neighborhood. Now with seven locations across NYC, including a Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Premier Training Campus, Ngai and Teoh are on a mission to improve the quality of life for every person in the coffee supply chain, from producers to consumers.
We digitally connected with Teoh, co-founder and Director of Education, to learn more about their vision and their top 3 tips on getting started with manually brewing pour over coffee.
Bonavita: What an exciting coffee journey this must have been so far, with seven locations across NYC. Tell us a little bit about how Coffee Project NY started and what was the inspiration behind it?
Teoh: Sum and I started Coffee Project NY in 2015 as a mom and pop coffee shop. As our team grew, the company also grew. Currently we are a coffee company with our own roastery, an SCA training lab, and multiple retail stores around New York City.
Bonavita: Congrats on the amazing growth! What is the impact you want to have on the coffee community?
Teoh: We envisioned to create a coffee community where resources are accessible and that everyone in the coffee supply chain is taken care of.
Bonavita: We understand that you have New York’s only SCA Premier Training Campus. Can you tell us about your training lab and how it came be?
Teoh: When Sum and I opened our first location, we had people who opened the door, saw two queer, Asian women behind the bar, and walked away. It was horrible, but it made us want to improve and be better. During that time, we wanted to improve our coffee skills and the only place near us that was offering SCA classes was in Florida. So we had to fly there for class. We realized there was a need in New York. When we finally had a chance to open our third location, providing industry standard education in an approachable manner became our goal. That is how our training lab come to be.
Bonavita: The Bonavita community is composed of beginners and coffee enthusiasts alike. Can you share your top 3 tips on getting started with manually brewing pour over coffee?
Teoh: I always suggest starting with a coffee you enjoy. Be it light or dark roast. Try to figure out what kind of profile you enjoy better, floral fruity or chocolate nutty, etc.
Then get the right tools. The right tools will always make your job easier. Pick a pour over brew gear and filter that you always wanted to try. Make sure you have a scale to measure time and weight. Pick a gooseneck kettle for smooth and controlled water flow (we use Bonavita in our lab).
Finally, practice! There are videos on YouTube and online about how to make pour over. If you have the time and money to invest in coffee education, register for a pour over class!
Coffee Project New York offers in-person and online coffee education to serve coffee professionals and enthusiasts alike. If you would like to experience one of their upcoming workshops, you can explore their many classes here.