Eat and Drink Birch Coffee's Long Island City roastery is full of beans, brews and more By Melissa Kravitz Updated May 20, 2016 12:20 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email From the outside, it looks like your standard trendy coffeeshop, but a visit into Birch's only Queens location reveals a lot more. The coffee mini-chain -- which currently operates six stores in Manhattan in addition to the Long Island City roastery -- is all about good coffee, conversation, and of course, caffeine. Jeremy Lyman and Paul Schlader, co-founders and owners of Birch, started out by sitting in New York coffee shops, monitoring the purchasing and lingering behavior of coffee customers. A cashed-in bar mitzvah bond later, Birch was born in 2009. Since then, the chain has expanded throughout the city. Now, Birch is about to open what they say is the Bronx's first specialty coffee store (defined as a coffeeshop serving coffee that scores an 80 or above by the Specialty Coffee Association of America's grading standards), at 866 Hunts Point Ave. And the coffee? Excellent. Since 2015, all of Birch's coffee has been roasted in its Queens headquarters. Here, beans that Lyman and Schlader have sourced from trips and tastings around the world are roasted, cupped and eventually brewed to be sipped from one of Birch's signature cups. No green straw necessary. Tours of the roastery aren't open to the public, but you can book a private cupping to gain a greater appreciation for coffee. Take a look around the behind-the-scenes roasting action. Birch Coffee Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz Birch Coffee's Queens location is at 40-37 23rd St., just off the N, Q and 7 trains at Queensboro Plaza and the F at Queensbridge. It's open from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. daily, and even from outside, you'll catch a whiff of some roasting coffee. Birch imports all of its beans after visiting farms around the world Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz Lyman and Schlader travel to South America, Africa and beyond to taste coffee and decide what they want to serve at Birch. Beans from different regions have different levels of acidity. Schlader noted, "The acidity in East Africa coffees, which is due to the phosphoric acid, greatly resembles that which can be found in soda," and those who did not grow up drinking soda may prefer coffee from other regions. Beans are shipped in grain-pro bags, lined with plastic Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz The bags look cool and can certainly be repurposed but the secret ingredient to keeping coffee beans fresh and not exposed to air is an inner plastic bag. Not the most exciting secret, but now you know how your beans get to your cup. Interesting! This machine roasts all of the coffee Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz This 35-kilo machine is more than twice the size of what Birch used before this February. The low-pressure machine is highly efficient and roasts as much coffee as feasible in the small space. Green coffee beans dry out and lose weight while roasting, which only takes a matter of minutes, but Birch imports green coffee to have control over exactly how each type of bean roasts. It only takes a few minutes to roast coffee beans Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz After roasting, the beans are cooled and stored in the roasting room, which smells amazing, of course. Beans are organized by region. Single origin coffee (i.e. beans from a single farm) has become very popular in the past few years, though blends of coffees from different regions can lead to even more unique and preferable tastes. There's a lot of coffee here Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz Birch currently roasts 150,000 pounds of coffee each year with the capacity to roast up to 1 million. All of Birch's back-of-house operations take place at the LIC HQ. However, demand for cold brew has grown so much that they now brew it off-site at a brewery in Westchester. Birch's cold brew is available by the growler, which makes it way too easy to stock up. Before coffee is ready to serve, baristas cup it Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz A cupping is a professional coffee tasting that involves two timers, slurping, slushing, spitting and naming flavor profiles. It's similar to a wine tasting, in that tasters are looking for tastes and aromas, though the hot coffee is slurped off a spoon. The Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel from the Specialty Coffee Association of America helps identify flavors and leads coffee experts to designate the proper roasting and brewing time to make the most of superior coffee beans. And then you can enjoy it with a book Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz All of Birch's coffeeshops have free libraries, sourced by donations, so you'll never be without reading material. They are also Wi-Fi-free, meaning that you can have a conversation and be present in the space without distractions, of, oh wait, LTE. By Melissa Kravitz Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.