Penn State Coffee Club samples New York City's best

November 28, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On a recent November Saturday, 16 coffee-loving Penn State students got up early and boarded a van headed for New York City. Their mission? To take in some of the best brews the city has to offer, as well as to visit Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, a company that has recently partnered with Penn State Residential Dining.

Most of the students were members of the Penn State Coffee Club, a group that promotes coffee appreciation by learning different brew methods and professional tasting techniques, as well as through outings such as the New York City trip.

The idea for the trip came about when the Coffee Club started collaborating with Penn State Residential Dining staff Lisa Wandel, Steve Clemons, and Sinan Ozyemisci to bring specialty coffee to Edge Coffee Shop in Penn State University Park’s East Food District. Leading up to the fall semester, Irving Farm — a small specialty roaster based in New York that focuses on a “farm-to-cup” model — was chosen to be the wholesale coffee partner.

“When Irving Farm was chosen, we all began to suggest ways to enhance the partnership so that both Residential Dining and the club could enjoy the benefits,” said Peter Abdalla, vice president of the Coffee Club. “Since then, Irving Farm has donated coffee to our club, and the club has returned the favor by helping out at special events featuring Irving Farm at East Food District. This trip was another step in strengthening our partnership.”

Ozyemisci, assistant manager at Redifer Dining Commons, said the students were excited to sample what New York City cafés have to offer.

“From the moment we left campus at 6 a.m. until we pulled back in to East around 8 p.m., the group was full of questions and energy,” he said. “Students had a blast experiencing a smaller-scale coffee shop like Boonton Coffee Co. and getting the epic New Jersey/New York bagel sandwich experience at Hot Bagels, as well as visiting big-name NYC-based cafés such as Doughnut Plant, Brooklyn Roasting Company, and Café Grumpy.”

After a morning of café hopping, the group headed to Irving Farm Coffee Roasters and gathered at The Loft, the company’s Manhattan-based office and training lab, for informational and educational sessions. Espresso educator Aaron Owens led a seed-to-cup class and discussion, during which students learned about coffee farming, processing, shipping, roasting, and preparation. After the discussion, Owens and Jay Kling, wholesale representative at Irving Farm, led the students through a coffee cupping, which is the industry way to evaluate coffee for quality. Owens and Kling cupped four different coffees and led the group in evaluating the distinct characteristics of each coffee.

“Traveling to Irving Farm's headquarters and training space was an amazing opportunity,” Abdalla said. “Third-wave coffee — a movement to produce high-quality coffee and to view coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, not just a commodity — has taken off in the past two decades, and New York City has seen a lot of cafés and roasters flourish. It was eye-opening for us to learn how a city-based roaster operates. The cupping that Jay and Aaron led was a great opportunity. The Coffee Club has held its own cuppings before — they’re one of our favorite ways to taste a fresh bag of coffee. Being able to participate in the cupping at Irving Farm and converse with Jay and Aaron was a real treat for everyone.”

As a third-wave coffee roaster, Irving Farm sources its coffee directly from small producers, co-ops, and growers’ organizations all over the world. All Irving Farm coffee is roasted to order in the company’s state-of-the-art roastery in Millerton, New York.

“The quality and freshness of the coffee are what make it taste great, and we're proud of the long-term relationships we have with the farmers who grow our coffee,” Kling said. “We're so excited to work with Edge, bringing that level of quality to Penn State. We look forward to finding new ways to continue teaching students about coffee and the stories of our producers.”

Kling said that Irving Farm has extended an invitation to Penn State Coffee Club members to attend complimentary classes at The Loft. Irving Farm offers regular classes on espresso and milk preparation, latte art, brewing, and cupping.

“Irving Farm went out of their way to accommodate our students, providing education, demonstrations and tours,” said Wandel, director of Penn State Residential Dining. “Their invitation to students to attend classes in the future is greatly appreciated. That’s powerful stuff for students and helps set them up for success upon graduation.”

“It was a great day, full of exposure to new creations and concepts that we are starting to see within Campus Dining,” Ozyemisci added. “I’ve seen this group very caffeinated before, and I never saw them as energetic and hyped up as they were when we were heading back to the van to cap off the day. Seeing these students get so excited about learning had me smiling from ear to ear.”

Last Updated December 06, 2018