Chrome espresso makers hiss inside Joe Bean while timers beep to signal the completion of a single-cup pour-over coffee. Brewed using a Hario dripper, the coffee sits in a glass pot, waiting to be poured in small portions into a sake-sized cup. Other baristas tip espresso-filled mugs to adorn the drink with steamed milk designs while they catch up with regular customers and learn the names of new ones. All the while, customers sitting on stools along the front wall of windows have quiet conversations, read novels, write in notebooks and on laptops, or watch the sidewalk for a familiar face.
Beginning around 2010, starting with Joe Bean, a new group of coffee shops started sprouting up in Rochester with a shared mission: coffee should be high-quality, simple, and sociable. That group has since grown into a somewhat intertwined tree of baristas and shop owners, with each branch offering its own iteration of third wave coffee culture.
Of course, coffee has long been a part of Rochester social life. Before the intricate network of third wave shops grew, Rochester's coffee scene — outside of the Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts to-go crowd — was ruled by popular second wave coffee houses like Java's Café, SPoT Coffee, and Boulder Coffee Co. Second wave coffee culture made espresso approachable, and it brought customers into the know about sourcing and roasting, which plays a large role in the current wave of shops.
Third wave coffee, which started to pick up in the mid-2000's, has moved toward a focus on just letting the coffee speak for itself. It took out the caramel shots and vanilla syrups, and instead found that coffee beans themselves can offer diverse flavors. With attention paid to the entire process — from growing and sourcing to roasting — brewing a cup of coffee became an art and a science. At second wave shops, coffee is something to talk over; with third wave, coffee is something to obsess about.
Over the last seven years, since Joe Bean carved out a Rochester niche, five other third wave coffee shops and pop-ups have emerged, and the network continues to grow. What began as one shop has evolved into a family of shop owners and baristas. And like any family, friendly competition and mutual admiration has created a unique dynamic in this city.
Rory Van Grol, co-owner of Ugly Duck Coffee, says that while the third wave shops are part of the same movement, they all have distinct personalities. "Everyone connects to a different experience," he says. "That's the value: you can go to each different shop and get something different."
Joe Bean Co-owner Kathy Turiano, who has worked with so many shop owners and baristas — like Sapphire Courchaine, a self-proclaimed "rogue barista" who was once with Joe Bean and is now the director of coffee at Glen Edith, a barista at Makers Gallery and Studio, and will be roasting with Fifth Frame — that she's nearly lost count, says these differing personalities are essential to growing the third wave community and movement.
Competition in a serious sense was never a concern for Turiano when baristas branched off. "It's hard to separate because you feel like family," she says, "but what we've come to realize is that the family can extend and move beyond a physical spot, and that it has to. I think in that way, you begin to impact not just a neighborhood, but you begin to impact a city."
Joe Bean Roasters
Joe Bean began in 2004 as a second wave Webster coffee shop before rebranding and replanting itself in 2010 as Rochester's third wave pioneer on University Avenue. Run by co-owners Kathy Turiano, her son Ben Turiano, and Dina Jones, the shop's coffee bar — intentionally placed in the center of the room to promote conversation with baristas — served as a third wave round table.
Kathy Turiano says the shop was squeezed out of its Webster location by large coffee corporations that Joe Bean couldn't compete with. Instead of scrounging for marketing resources they didn't have access to, Joe Bean turned toward a kind of coffee experience the corporations couldn't offer.
"You just looked around our bar at the beginning, it was a lot of that real geeking out on coffee," Turiano recalls, naming then-customer Tony Colón (now of Fuego) and then-employee Rory Van Grol (now of Ugly Duck) as some of the original coffee nerds.
She says Joe Bean's coffee, which is sourced from particular farmers, organizations, and regions and is roasted in-house, is the core product. But community has always been at the forefront of the shop's mission.
"We really began to push that idea that you sit; that coffee is a social beverage," she says.
Joe Bean recently expanded its space to create even more room for this socializing, and has introduced an expanded locally-sourced menu to complement the shop's hand-poured drinks.
Joe Bean is located at 1344 University Avenue, and is open Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. 319-5279; joebeanroasters.com.
CONNECTION: Joe Bean was the original third wave coffee shop. Tony Colón of Fuego was a regular customer, and Rory Van Grol of Ugly Duck was a barista. And Fifth Frame's Wade Reed and Jarred Foster, both of Glen Edith, worked for Joe Bean.
Fuego Coffee Roasters
With a Nate Hodge painting on one wall — which was originally created at Makers Gallery and Studio — and a menu featuring the motto "Come for coffee, stay for community" hanging on another, Fuego Coffee Roasters is a community-focused third wave shop. Fuego co-owners Tony Colón and Renée, his wife, worked at Java's Café together, and after six years, they decided to try their own take on roasting. The two opened their shop in 2013, and last summer moved from its original Liberty Pole Way location to 45 Euclid.
While Fuego is technically a third wave shop, Tony Colón says he doesn't necessarily want to be siloed as simply "third wave."
"We try to break the thought of third wave," he says. Instead of spending most of his focus on the coffee, Colón says the shop's attention is more directed at service. "We want the coffee to speak for itself."
That focus translates to, among other things, Fuego's menu. Colón encourages inclusivity when it comes to customers who may not be used to the idea of third wave. "We try to make things very approachable," he says, pointing to drinks like the French Quarter, which is a cold brew processed with chicory, and shaken with milk and agave.
Colón tries to make Fuego part of the international community. Tony and Renée opened Fuego HueHue — a coffee shop in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, focused on social entrepreneurship. In partnership with Roberts Wesleyan College, the shop employs young Guatemalans who have recently come of age, and left a local orphanage. The revenue from HueHue is put directly back into the business to support the employees there.
Fuego is located at 45 Euclid Street, and is open every day, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 270-9214; facebook.com/fuegocoffee.
CONNECTION: Tony Colón was a regular customer at Joe Bean and helped Makers Gallery and Studio get started.
Glen Edith Coffee Roasters
Community collaboration created Glen Edith Coffee Roasters. The shop — which opened in March 2014 on Somerton Street as Pour Coffee, and then spread to a second location on Elton Street in 2015 — started as a part of Smokestack Cowork, a collaborative space for creators to go work in a communal setting. Smokestack closed in 2014.
John Ebel, Smokestack's founder, and the owner of Glen Edith, says he was just looking for a way to serve quality coffee to the people who worked in that space near High Falls. And with Glen Edith, he's still focused on collaborating and community building.
There's a stigma that if you're an outsider to third wave coffee, "you don't really fit in and aren't able to ask questions," Ebel says, referring to customers who don't necessarily like black coffee or pour-overs. "So we opened with a very approachable mission."
Ebel says that approachability comes through in everything from the design of Glen Edith's bar — which spotlights the brewing process like pour-over and pulling espresso shots — to the classes the shop offers to teach the public more about coffee.
"Everything is welcome," Ebel says. "You're welcome to put cream in your coffee."
Glen Edith has two locations. Its 23 Somerton Street location is open Monday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. And its 44 Elton Street location is open every day, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. glenedithcoffee.com.
CONNECTION: Ryan Baker, founder of Meraki, is a barista at Glen Edith. And Fifth Frame's Wade Reed and Jarred Foster both work at Glen Edith.
Makers Gallery and Studio
Makers Gallery and Studio, according to co-owner Zach Graham, is above all an art gallery. The gallery and third wave café opened in May 2015 in the Neighborhood of the Arts.
"We want to do something that's different," Graham says. "There's a lot of coffee shops that have art on the walls; we want to be an art gallery with a coffee shop." The gallery features mostly local artists — like Cordell Cordaro, whose show "Quiet Nobility" is currently on display in the studio — and rotates shows every four or five weeks.
The space itself is made up of handcrafted work. True to the studio's name, co-owner Alex Gruttadaro says he built much of the gallery's furniture, hand-poured the concrete countertops, and with the help of a friend, built the oak cabinets behind the coffee bar that often features Fuego coffee. Graham also serves his own Donut King of Rochester donuts.
Graham and Gruttadaro credit Fuego's Tony Colón for their success. "Tony helped us all along the way opening up," Gruttadaro says. Tony even found them the first piece of equipment they bought as a business: the espresso maker.
Makers Gallery and Studio is located at 34 Elton Street, and is open Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 507-3569; makersgalleryandstudio.com.
CONNECTION: Fuego's Tony Colón helped Graham and Gruttadaro start the café portion of Makers Gallery and Studio.
Ugly Duck Coffee
Ugly Duck began in June 2015 as a pop-up coffee bar before opening the doors last May to a permanent location in Rochester's East End. The small building was once home to 1975 Gallery, and it's still embellished with a mural on an outside wall that says "Til We Meet Again."
Rory Van Grol, who owns the shop with his wife, Cris Puccia Van Grol, brought Joe Bean DNA to his shop in a hope to create a similar sense of community. Van Grol says community-focused customer service is his top priority, and he encourages Ugly Duck's baristas to engage and connect with customers.
The coffee industry, he says, is founded on those relationships — including relationships with roasters and other shops. "That's what community is," he says. "Without that, this is nothing."
As a multi-roaster (a shop that uses coffee from several roasters), Ugly Duck features regional and national coffees, like frequenter Peaks Coffee Company from Cazenovia, New York, and Middle State Coffee from Denver, Colorado.
"If someone really loves a cup of coffee, that's awesome," Van Grol says. "But if people also love the fact that you can come in and feel comfortable, that's even better."
Ugly Duck Coffee is located at 89 Charlotte Street, and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. uglyduckcoffee.com.
CONNECTION: Rory Van Grol was a barista at Joe Bean.
Meraki Coffee Co.
Glen Edith's Ryan Baker launched his own coffee pop-up in June 2016 to follow his meraki — a Greek term that means to do something with soul, creativity, or passion, or to put something of yourself into your work. The pop-up has since poured espresso-based drinks for customers at weddings, football games, and local businesses like Jane Vintage.
Along with espresso, Meraki's menu features a seasonal signature drink like, for these colder months, the Bundle Up: a layered shot of bourbon syrup, espresso, and eggnog.
Baker says he proudly — putting emphasis on the "proudly" — serves Parlor Coffee. Parlor is based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and some of its bags feature the names of the coffee's farmer: the Honduras roast is from farmer Olvin Moreno.
"This is what appeals to me about specialty coffee," Baker says. "It's not only good, but it's ethical. And I think a generation is coming up where we're not only wanting a crafty product, a cool product ... We're doing something that's going beyond what you're getting as an end result."
Meraki is regularly open at Cheesy Eddie's, 602 South Avenue, on Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. merakicoffeeroc.com.
CONNECTION: Ryan Baker is a barista at Glen Edith.
Fifth Frame Brewing Co.
Third wave coffee is being pushed even further with Fifth Frame Brewing Co. Co-owner Wade Reed, who was previously with Joe Bean and currently works for Glen Edith, says Fifth Frame aims to make coffee the fifth element in beer (in addition to water, yeast, malt, and hops). Fifth Frame, Reed says, is set to open this year inside The Hive@155 project (at 155 St. Paul Street), and will serve coffee, beer ... and coffee beer.
"Every beer that we brew also gets a coffee variant," Reed says. For example, a customer can order a coffee, a cream ale, or a coffee cream ale.
Jonathan Mervine, a co-owner and head of Fifth Frame's beer program, was an original co-founder of Roc Brewing Co., and co-owner Jarred Foster, who is the head of the food program, worked with Reed at Joe Bean and also works at Glen Edith.
In the past, Reed says, the three occasionally worked on seasonal coffee and beer collaborations. But now the three want to take "this idea that's been sort of an afterthought," Reed says, "and making it our first thought, our first concern, and our main project."
Fifth Frame will be located at 155 St. Paul Street and is set to open in early 2017. Check fifthframe.co for developing details.
CONNECTION: Wade Reed and Jarred Foster worked for Joe Bean and currently work at Glen Edith.BONUS: CITY Newspaper Arts & Entertainment Editor Jake Clapp attempts to drink six cups of coffee from six different third-wave coffee shops around Rochester. Does he survive?