FARM DIRECT ARTISAN ESPRESSO
Unlike nearly every other coffee shop in North America, patrons of Devoción are stationed at tables or couches drinking their coffees in the yellow 'for-here' mugs: there are abnormally few paper cups in sight. This attitude is exemplary of the foundational beliefs Devoción is built on. Described as the world's only exclusively "Farm to Cup" bean roster, this through-and-through Colombiano enterprise is committed to maintaining the ecology of the land their beans come from and fortifying workers from their country who have endured decades of perilous (and notorious) conflict. The growing coffee enterprise has established social and environmental programs throughout the vast regions of Colombia, and the founders publish sustainability reports they encourage coffee consumers to read.
Becoming enamoured with Devoción coffee starts the minute you step into the Williamsburg Roastery. You enter by walking through large, industrial doors that lead you down a dimly lit, narrow corridor with broad factory windows showcasing their bean roaster at work. Once through this hall, you are immediately hit by their expansive and impressive lush green wall while light floods in from the gaping skylight above. The scaling green wall roots over 150 coffee plants originating from Colombia, reaching two storeys to the glass office above.
There's a casual and comfortable atmosphere with plenty room for seating on rich mahogany leather sofas. The area is surrounded by studded trimmed ottomans, wood and cast-iron chests and a large Oriental area rug. You can also hang sit at any of the numerous wooden bistro tables or along the wood-panel bar with overhanging vintage pendants. The room is refined industrial with large black L-beams juxtaposed against a white finished ceiling. It feels clean: you don't see all the dust and mechanical glaring above like other industrial-inspired spaces.
Pops of bright yellow come from framed wall posters and coffee mugs, reminding us of the vibrancy of the South American spirit. The intent is to give customers the experience of being guests at a 'country estancia' (landed estate); the shop is also multifaceted, hosting cultural events including music shows and art installations.
Devoción is where we first learned that the coffee "bean" is actually the pit (or seed) of a coffee tree cherry. Partners native to the Colombiano region personally seek out coffee tree farmers within the untamed areas of the Amazonian rainforest, including even the most inaccessible areas. They then purchase these red and yellow "coffee" berries at above Fair Trade prices.
After a state known as parchment, the green seeds are dry milled and hand-sorted in Bogotá, then shipped directly to Williamsburg where you can watch them roast through the corridor's windows. "Behind the roasting room is our laboratorio where we test-roast samples, cup and taste them, and create the specific guidelines for the roasts and blends that we’ll execute and package in the main roaster room." Devoción states.
While the coffee is certainly exceptional enough to single-handedly carry Devoción on its own (there are no superfluously flavoured lattes or gluttonous toppings), the urbanite café is also known for its fresh baked croissants. A friend native to Brooklyn, orders the chocolate croissant every morning we stopped in, once even chasing down an employee who was carrying a fresh batch out from behind the kitchen door. There are also plenty other cookies, bars, breads, and muffins to pair with your morning coffee and yes, baked right in-house.
In Williamsburg, there are what could feasibly be called 'the big 3' of coffee shops: Blue Bottle, Toby's Estate, and Devoción. At all three, both Saturday and Sunday are religiously chaotic. The lines are long and heads bob up and over each other seeking a glimpse of what baked goods are still available. But at this Colombian café, the staff remain calm. They are consistently jovial and informative, but concise and efficient: Devoción staff always seem willing and able to greet you with a collected smile despite the heavily populated line behind every advancing customer.
Once sitting down with your espresso, the café (clearly intentionally) seems a world away. Devoción is the opposite of what New York is known for; it's a welcome oasis from the rat-race and concrete jungle that can be Manhattan. While they don't shut out those who need a calm place to do some work on their laptops, Devoción still remains tranquil.
In a place where relaxation takes over, there feels no need to scroll through your phone for the umpteenth time. A welcome moment exists, reminding us to stop, sit down, chat with friends, or read a paper cover-to-cover. Because hung every morning on the wall for coffee drinkers to share are fresh copies of the day's New York Times. A facetious reminder of where you sit––and that you haven't just yet escaped to beautiful Colombia.
A version of this article originally appeared in HAZEL NOIX on July 2nd, 2017.