One Down. Twenty-Nine to Go.

First, a huge thanks. If you’re reading this at time of publication, you likely have been part of the SubAlpine Coffee story thus far. One year in business. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

In the past year, we have evolved quickly from a driven, if inexperienced, startup coffee shop to a top quality foodservice operation. We expanded our kitchen in January, and hired incredibly talented and experienced people to run our food program. The results have been very positive and encouraging. Our espresso tastes better than ever, and we continue to fill out the store here and there with things we know our customers want. We're thrilled with where you have helped bring us!

There’s a whole lot of boring, behind the scenes nano-details that customers shouldn’t care about, but nonetheless are critical to the survival of a business, particularly in the first year. Paying bills, keeping books, responding to customer issues, dealing with supplier issues, power outages, and equipment failures, to name a few. It’s our job to make the operation look easy and seamless. And there’s a whole lot that goes into that. We've been working so hard behind the scenes to make sure the experience and the product are the best possible.

So, call us not rushed. I’m in this for the long haul. I call it a thirty year plan. We have turned down plenty of short term gains because I have a long-term vision for SubAlpine as well as our community as a whole. A coffee shop can contribute to building community in profound ways, and I feel that we have made a mark in the beautiful Adirondack High Peaks in a positive way in this first year. We are methodical and thorough in implementing any change or addition we make. This is ingrained in my way of working thanks to my master’s thesis advisor, Dr. Nelson, who always beat it into our heads that “first you slither….then you crawl…then you walk…then you try running.” We've just about reached crawling as I write this. 

So, we have a ton of positive feedback, and a full blown, food-serving cafe operation that’s running as smooth as ever. Check that incredibly hard box! But we will never compromise the customer experience in the store for the next best thing down the road. We will grow only in ways that make sense for the big picture and for the long haul. Why? Because our first year has shown us that there’s a huge demand for what we’re offering, and otherwise strangers have become customers, friends, family. Community has been built with us, and between customers. We don’t want to let them down in any facet of what we do. It is a pleasure and a privilege to do what we love and make our customers’ day a little bit brighter.

So again thank you for the first year, and stick around to see what we have up our sleeves next.

Patrick Walsh, Owner

Finding Our Place

 

As we nudge our way into the ever-changing world of customer service, some truths about our vision and M.O. have revealed themselves.

1. Meet me half-way - We experience the full spectrum of coffee drinkers, situated here on the main vain between the Adirondack Northway and Lake Placid (yes, Miracle on Ice Lake Placid, and no, not the horror movie Lake Placid). Some people just want a dark roast. We do get some savvy city slickers who ask for flat whites or cortados. Really we're happy to serve everyone and meet them where they are. We'll never serve something as dark as a French roast, but Forty-Six is a rather tasty 'dark' roast. We're here to make good coffee, no matter how our customer defines it. 

2. Consistency is key - Hologram has staked its claim as Lord of the Espresso Bar. After experimenting with several single-origin coffees, we went home to this delicious and complex blend. It's a crowd pleaser. It's just dark enough to get those lovely roast-y qualities people come to expect in an espresso drink. But the fruit and the chocolate will please those with more discerning palates. Save for special occasions, Hologram is here to stay. This allows us to really hone it in and make it as perfect as we can, regardless of which barista is working the machine. 

3. People want food! - SubAlpine was started as a coffee-forward establishment. Priority one was to serve great coffee and espresso drinks, alongside tasty baked goods from local bakers. I believe we've accomplished that. But this isn't about us, it's about our customers. And they want FOOD! The demand for fresh food made-in-house has been staggering. So much so, we have decided to expand our kitchen and bring on a very experienced, dedicated chef/baker. Now we will strive to crack the nut of an establishment that serves great food AND great coffee. Soups, salads, sandwiches, smoothies....we're about to evolve! 

SubAlpine will be ever-evolving, particularly in this first year of existence. As we shed the notions of what we 'should' be and further discover, through our customers, what we are...it can only get better. 

Specialty Coffee in Keene Valley: The Awesomeness Manifesto

"Work is love made visible." - Khalil Gibran

Two worlds are about to intersect: specialty coffee and these fine Adirondack mountains. The High Peaks has never seen a specialty coffee cafe, and I promise the fine people that reside in these mountains have never seen the likes of what is coming this summer. Not in these parts, anyway. 

Specialty coffee is the finest coffee in the world. There are objective standards for this title. There are trade organizations dedicated to it. Right now around the world there are serious people making serious faces while tasting serious coffee after coffee after coffee, and making entertaining slurping noises in the process. Seriously. The explosion of specialty coffee (that is, coffee treated as an artisan-crafted beverage from seed to cup) has now permeated through the Blue Line of the Adirondack Park. I could go on about specialty coffee, about why I chose the new version of the infamous and awesome La Marzocco Linea espresso machine for the cafe, heck there's a film about specialty coffee (which is fantastic, and may be shown in the area sometime soon...), but I digress. Long story short, a cafe that cares about specialty coffee can provide the finest daily ritual to the masses. The best affordable luxury. Darn fine coffee.

But honestly, the coffee geek in me has to concede the real, not-so-secret purpose of this, and indeed any, independent cafe: community. Coffeehouses have been the birthplace of great ideas for centuries. They are places at which people feel free and safe to meet. Anyone is welcome anytime the doors are open. Coffee is a beverage to meet over. It stimulates discussion. It makes you want to do stuff. Cafes generate real community, and serve as neighborhood anchors for progress. 

In a nod to Gibran's above quote about work, I have found that which I love in opening this cafe. And I am excited to see the new heights, beyond what I can imagine, that my staff and I can take this cafe and this community to. So, let this be a sort of manifesto, then. A manifesto for awesomeness in food, drink and people. 

Beginning this summer, a new cafe in Keene Valley, New York sets out to make some of the best coffee in the world in a location surrounded by some of the best mountains in the world. We invite the fine residents and visitors of these mountains to come inside and continue to build one of the best communities in the world. 

Cheers! 

Patrick