Coffee first appeared in New York City in the mid-1600s, when the area was called “New Amsterdam” and under Dutch rule. It was an immediate hit.

Cafés sprouted up around Manhattan, and general consumption grew steadily to the point that, in the 19th century, one third of the world’s beans passed through the ports located where the Financial District is today. Of course, the government demanded regulation, and the Coffee Exchange of the City of New York was operating by 1882. Business continued to flourish and by 1900, an estimated 86 percent of all the java that entered the U.S. passed through these ports.

Sounds interesting…and delicious. Learn more about the Big Apple’s caffeine-heavy past and enjoy some fresh brews when K. Keener presents The History of New York City Coffee in Long Island City on Sunday, Feb. 2, at 10:30 a.m.

Geared toward amateur enthusiasts, the class will begin with the ports and end with the current scene and its single-origin brews, oatmeal milk cappuccinos, and flat whites. Keener will also lead a few tastings, explaining ways to savor acidity, sweetness, aftertaste, and length.

Tickets cost $30.

Keener is certainly an enthusiast, but she’s no amateur. The Oklahoma native was a coffee roaster in Indiana before moving to NYC to become a high school English teacher. She’s still in the classroom, but she never lets lesson plans get in the way of her latte love. In her spare time, she runs a café guide called “NYC UnderGrounds,” organizes workshops on such topics as pour-overs and cold-brewing, and leads tours. Plus, she co-hosts a monthly Coffee Hunters meet-up group with the Angels’ Cup subscription service.

She sounds passionate. Where is this class going to take place?

Coffee Project NY, which is located at 21-10 51st Ave., is a 3,725-square-foot facility featuring a retail shop, a room with a San Franciscan Roasting Co. roaster, and a laboratory that’s New York State’s only Specialty Coffee Association Premier Training Campus.

Yes, it’s a campus with desks, chairs, and state-of-the-art espresso machines — Faema E71, Sanremo Cafe Racer, Sanremo Opera, La Marzocco Linea Classic, and Victoria Arduino Black Eagle, which is the official espresso machine for the World Barista Championships. Don’t forget the Ground Control Cyclops, a single-batch brewer with one-gallon capacity, and Nuova Simonelli Mythos II and Compak PK100 grinders.

Certified training classes for industry professionals take place there, but so do self-improvement workshops like The History of New York City Coffee.

It’s also part of a larger company. In 2015, Chi Sum Ngai and Kaleena Teoh opened the first Coffee Project NY in the East Village. Three years later, they launched a second location in downtown Brooklyn. They inaugurated the LIC branch in late 2019.

Editor’s note: Coffee Project NY will host Cup & Mingle on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. This is basically a meet-up for aficionados with coffee (naturally), light food and board games.

Alice Foote MacDougall was a major player in NYC’s coffee culture in the mid-1800s. She owned five cafés, including The Firenze at 6 W. 46th St. in Manhattan. Learn more about her on Sunday.

Images: Coffee Project NY (top); Courtesy of K. Keener via New-York Historical Society (below)


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