Column: A lesson in coffee and then some

Sept. 29, was National Coffee Day, a day to “celebrate coffee” which can’t be much different from any other day, but, it did make me stop and think about coffee for a minute longer than I normally would. I realized, I haven’t changed the way I make coffee in a very long time. I was sure I could take my coffee-making game to another level.  Lisa-Jardine

Enter Johnny Steverson, 27, and Jason Richter, 34, from Path Coffee Roasters in Port Chester.

Six months ago, they started roasting specialty beans from all over the world inside Jason’s family business, Empire Coffee Co., in a non-descript building on Purdy Avenue. They only roast beans that are in season, taste great and best represent the country where they were grown. Their 12-ounce bags even come with a roast date because they want to make sure you consume their coffee within two weeks of roasting. And another thing: No more storing beans in the refrigerator or freezer. Just wrap up the bag tightly and keep it away from the sun.

On their website www.pathcoffees.com, they currently have seven different selections for purchase ranging from Costa Rica to Ethiopia, Panama to Papua New Guinea.

A Path Coffee Roasters label which shows the roast date as well as the exact location of where the beans come from.

A Path Coffee Roasters label which shows the roast date as well as the exact location of where the beans come from.

“The terroir in which each bean is grown makes a huge difference in how the coffee tastes. You can have a super sweet bean in one location and you move a few kilos away and the bean can taste almost like a black tea,” Steverson said.

And, he knows his tea as well as his coffee.

After culinary school and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont in hospitality, Steverson spent 18 months working for a large tea company. From there, he spent three years at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico as their coffee and tea director. And then, his true love of coffee and his fascination with the coffee scene in New York took over and he joined forces with Richter, a third generation coffee roaster.

They’ve been on an interesting path ever since.

“We named the new venture Path Coffee Roasters because we felt it had so many positive connotations and meanings,” said Steverson.

The roasting is all done by hand in very small 30 lb. batches. Steverson is constantly pulling the

Johnny Steverson in front of his small batch roaster.

Johnny Steverson in front of his small batch roaster.

tryer, a small scoop in the roasting machine that lets you smell and assess the doneness in the roasting process. There are no automated controls to push or switches to flip.

And once those beans are roasted to perfection, how does one go about making the perfect cup of coffee?

Steverson and Richter swear by the pour over, using a V60 cup and making sure you wait to grind your beans until the last second. For $45, they offer a two-hour class inside their roasting facility on how to brew the perfect cup of coffee. You also get to take home your own V60 with filters and some samples of their beans. Sign up is on their website.

The duo are also very excited about the growth of their online subscription service, which automatically sends a bag of coffee, of their choosing, to your home every two weeks. I asked Jason if he thought their company was part of the third wave of coffee, a term that refers to the pioneers of a new coffee revolution.

He shook his head and smiled, “Johnny’s fourth wave.”

While I do enjoy a great cup of coffee, I usually like to have something with it, which is the and part of this article.

This summer at 321 N. Main St. in Port Chester, a small brightly lit neighborhood place called zeppoleme opened. At first, I thought, an entire restaurant dedicated to fattening fried dough balls? It sounded too much like a food fad, similar to this summer’s Cronut or the current obsession in our area with cupcakes.  But this fall, my curiosity got the best of me and one weekday afternoon, with a carful of starving teenagers, I decided to check it out.

Boy, was I wrong.

The namesake modern zeppole with buttercream and pumpkin dipping sauces. 

The namesake modern zeppole with buttercream and pumpkin dipping sauces.

Marc Tessitore and Robert Squeri, partners in the venture, take food and marketing very seriously. Marc, one of the owners of nessa, next door to zeppoleme, has been wooing customers with his food for the past eight years. And Robert, one of nessa’s first and most beloved customers has many years of experience in branding and marketing, not to mention he loves good food. Together, they have created a warm and welcoming environment that serves a select menu where everything is absolutely delicious, not least of which is their namesake, the zeppola.

“When you have a limited menu there is no reason that everything on it shouldn’t be delicious. We do a few things and we do them really well,” said Tessitore.

Why fried dough?

“Marc served zeppole at nessa to rave reviews, so we started to do some research. Fried dough in some shape or form is served across a multitude of cultures spanning centuries. We knew we were on to something,” said Squeri.  DSC_0099

The zeppoleme offerings are broken down into savory and sweet. The sweet zeppole come either classic Italian festival-style, or modern, an airier version created by the folding in of ricotta into the dough. Both come with your choice of dipping sauces that range from vanilla crème to Nutella, lemon glaze to buttercream. And each holiday season they will offer a special sauce, currently it’s pumpkin. The savory zeppole are modern that have seasonal vegetables and meats mixed into the dough like bacon, chive and provolone or an all-veggie version.

There is a nice selection of panini’s (I’ve been told the grilled cheese is to die for). I tasted the short ribs and broccoli rabe, which could easily have been the best sandwich I’ve eaten in a very long time. The salads on the menu are the perfect accompaniment to the zeppole and panini and there is a seasonal soup to round out the menu.

The beverages also deserve mention as they serve Stumptown coffee and wine on tap, which is wine stored in stainless steel kegs protecting it from oxidation. They are open daily, from very early in the morning to late at night and offer take out and catering as well. I can just see the happy smiling faces on the first kid who serves these at their birthday party—the dipping sauces even come in fun kid-friendly squeeze bottles.

If you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well lick the powdered sugar off your fingers and enjoy ‘em!

 

Path Coffee Roasters:

www.pathcoffees.com

zeppoleme:

321 N. Main St. Port Chester,

www.zeppoleme.com

 

“I’m always on the lookout for a great story, an amazing restaurant, an unusual day trip or a must-see cultural event in Westchester County.”

To contact Lisa, email lisa@hometwn.com. And you can follow her on Twitter, @westchesterwand