February 11, 2021

Boris The Bagel Guy: Spice Island – Ginger Coffee

In our first week of business in December 2003, I arrived to open the café and found my dad sitting on the front counter chatting with Boris, the NY Bagel and Bialy delivery guy. It was around 4:30am and they were speaking Russian. I started stocking the pastry case, filling the condiment pitchers, turning on lights, etc. Something Boris said made my dad super excited and he pulled a large, knotty piece of ginger from his messenger bag. I’m not sure what led up to that.

He switched to English and told Boris that “In Indonesia a lot of people put some chunks of ginger in their coffee.” Boris hurried away quickly – something about more deliveries.

Undeterred, my dad brewed a press pot of Sumatra, cut some large and not-so-shapely pieces of ginger from the root, and dropped them into two cups. It wasn’t yet 5am. Ginger coffee hit our menu the next day. To be authentic, we put it in coffee from Sumatra and we kept the drink special going all winter.

In the Spring, Sumatra became scarce so, we improvised. We blended a bit of this with a bit of that. We played with the roast profile. A little smoke and magic. Eventually we constructed something close to Sumatra. An earthy, chocolatey coffee, chewy with body. Caramel. Smoooooooooth. We named it Spice Island, after the spice route originating in Oceania.

Spice Island is still our most popular blend and to keep riding the nostalgia train, we’re offering a killer deal on Spice Island. And it comes with a recipe for ginger coffee so that you can create the magic at home.

What stuff do you put in your coffee (crazy or otherwise)?

Toss! (That’s cheers in Indonesian)