Interview: coffee pro Sam Penix (Everyman Espresso)

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Coffee New York City


How much more room is there in the New York coffee scene for specialty growth?

There’s a lot of room. Certainly more room than there is the New York food world, and people are still going to open restaurants and keep engaging people that way. We have grown rapidly in the past two or three years. When I first started working at Everyman, a little over four years ago, there were probably four or five shops at the most that did good coffee. Now there’s a ton more, but there is starting to be a little bit of a middle ground as far as quality. There wasn’t before. These people got their shit together, got the right material, and they’re really, really good work with it, and they bust their asses training people. Now we’re seeing a little bit more – they’re purchasing the right coffee, have the right style – but they just don’t have the management skills to train their people or to acquire good, trained baristas, which is kind of interesting. But there is room for growth because there are a lot of people in this city. New Yorkers don’t want to walk very far. They’ll walk a few blocks, and that’s it. You could put a coffee shop on every other corner, basically.

As far as the soundtrack goes, is it the same in each location? Who chooses the music?

The staff chooses the music, so whatever they feel like. It varies from day to day, person to person, whoever’s working.

What do you prefer to listen to?

It depends on the case, but usually something fast-paced. When I’m at SoHo, I like to listen to Lee Hazelwood or maybe some kind of tiki inspired ’60s, but it depends. If it’s really busy and pumping, I want to listen to some rap music. But always Mariah Carey. We can always do that.

Coffee New York City

Which came first, the tattoo or the Everyman Espresso logo?

The tattoo. It came off of a button that was made for a coffee party. The guy who is the graphic designer for Espresso Parts – Dave White – he made these buttons and sent them out to New York for this New York Coffee People party. The rest of history. I was like, “No way, that will fit perfectly.”

What’s a typical coffee consumption day for you, from when you wake up to when you knock out at night?

It’s not as much as it used to be, because I’m trying to grow up a bit and not drink as much. When I’m on bar, which I work five days a week, I probably consume about five cups of coffee, but I’m tasting all day long and not drinking full cups of anything, especially when I’m on the espresso machine, trying to dial things in. There’s a lot of tasting, but not a lot of consuming of full beverages.

Are you going to compete any more in barista competitions?

Yeah. I definitely am. This year, I plan on judging, but we have several competitors this year, both in the barista competition and in the Brewers Cup.

Do you ever brew coffee at home?


What’s your preferred method?

Well, the Aeropress is extremely convenient and clean, so I really like brewing coffee on that, because I live by myself and don’t have roommates. It yields one cup of coffee. I like not wasting. I also really enjoy the Chemex and feel it’s really awesome and delicious. When I’m excited about something, I try it on the Chemex and see what I can get out of it. I think a Baratza grinder, Chemex and Aeropress.

If you could only have one more shot of espresso, who would pull it for you?

Katie Carguilo, my best friend and the United States Barista Champion.

Address: 301 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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