Creatives {Q&A with Birch Coffee Co-Founder Jeremy Lyman}

by Lauren Durden in

We had a little Q&A with Birch Coffee's co-founder, Jeremy Lyman, to talk about what's important to him as a business owner, how he lets off steam, and how he takes his morning cup o' joe. 

                                          Co-Founders of Birch Coffee, Paul Schlader (left) and Jeremy Lyman (right). 

                                          Co-Founders of Birch Coffee, Paul Schlader (left) and Jeremy Lyman (right). 


What inspired you to start your own coffee house? 

I was very unhappy with my previous job. I honestly feel like I am doing what I was meant to do but that every single job that I've had and company that I have worked for has brought me exactly to where I am. I truly believe that anything worth doing is worth doing well and that is why whether I was happy or not, I showed up and did the best job I knew how.  That is why I think I am so fortunate to be doing this.  I absolutely love it and so my "all" goes into it, every day. I really wanted to create an environment that fosters a sense of community and togetherness.  I believe Birch Coffee is the epitome of that.  

What sets Birch Coffee apart from other coffee houses? 

It is, without hesitation, our service. Our baristas and staff are incredibly approachable and make the product, coffee, very accessible to anyone coming into any of the stores. From the moment someone walks into the store to the minute they leave, it is our priority to take care of their needs.  We obviously can't service everything, I mean, we don't serve sushi, but if asked, we can tell you a couple of our favorite places we like to go!  

Can you describe challenges you faced in starting your own business in NYC? Are there any challenges that are specific to NYC? 

I would say that in the beginning, raising capital was the biggest challenge when opening the business.  We were trying to open in one of the worst financial times of the last 30+ years and asking people to give us money when we had no experience and take a big leap of faith with us was a lot to ask.  We managed to convince enough of our close family and friends to do so but I think it was because they simply had more faith in Paul and I than they did in the business concept itself.  As far as challenges specific to NY, since we haven't opened anywhere else yet, I can't speak to that but I have been told that it is just as tough to open anywhere else as it is here.  

How would each of you describe your personal work ethic? 

I am a strong believer in the saying "anything worth doing is worth doing well"  Any job I have ever had, I show up and I do my job. Whether or not I like what I was doing when I was doing it was irrelevant. If someone was trusting me to do a job, it was my obligation to do it as best I could. I believe I can speak for Paul when I say that we are just two really straightforward and honest hardworking guys.  If you don't have your integrity, what have you got? And at the end of the day I have to be okay with how I handled myself throughout the day and sleep well at night.

What is most important for you in day to day operations? 

So long as the staff are kickin' ass in the customer service department, I'm pretty happy. I think it goes without saying that the cleanliness of the shop and the quality of the product are perfect (or as close to it as possible) as well, but this is all a part of the customer experience.  Our barista can be super nice but then the floor or the condiment station is dirty and that barista interaction is somewhat negated. 

That grilled cheese sandwich - the Humboldt Fog with avocado and tomato - who thought of this glorious combination? 

As much as both Paul and I would love to take credit for this, we have to give credit where it is due.  We had been serving a cheddar, tomato, and avocado grilled cheese, but our friend and celebrity chef Jehangir Mehta tried it and wanted to spice it up a bit.  He had us try one with roasted tomatoes and added humboldt fog, and brilliance.  It's my favorite thing on the menu.  

What's your favorite grilled cheese combo? 

See above!

What do you take into consideration when creating the menu for Birch Coffee? 

First and foremost, we assess the size of the space. If it is conducive to having a kitchen, we will work it in. Sometimes it is simply better as a pure coffee spot. As far as creating the menu, we have a pretty solid menu of sandwiches that works well so we will just keep going with that until it no longer works!

If you couldn't eat or drink at Birch Coffee, where would we find you in the city?  

For coffee, I'll hit up Grumpy or Joe and if I can't eat at Birch, I'll go out of my way to track down a Dos Toros, best burrito in the city (I think).  Also, and you didn't ask, but I figured I'd throw it in... because I work as much as I do, there is a balance I need to maintain so if I'm not eating or having coffee, I'll be boxing over at Title Boxing Club on w 37th st!!  

And, of course, how do you take your coffee? 

Most often, iced, with a touch of cream.  The rest of the time, hot and black.  

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The Lust List {Hats Off}

by Gloria Cavallaro in , , ,

The autumn chill is here + I just chopped off a foot of hair = baby girl's head needs some extra warmth - which is why this week's Lust List is entirely devoted to hats. From the classic fedora to chic baseball caps and Lower East Side staple, the pork pie; hat options this season are so stellar I can hardly choose. Thus, for your style pleasure, I put together some of my favorites, all under $70, all perfect for fall.  

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{DIY} Budget Friendly Holographic Tee

by Gloria Cavallaro in , , ,

In the words of Santigold, "Me, I'm a creator, thrill is to make it up..."

So, when I found myself checking out shirts online with cool, holographic stripes, all ranging from $100 to almost $700 (!!) I thought, heck, I'll just make it myself AND I'll make it better because I know exactly what I want.

The Rundown

- I wanted a boxy, cropped, white tee, which I found at Madewell for $35.
- The inspiration behind my design were graphic equalizers (you know, those bars that go up and down when music plays).

- Lauren wanted an "I <3 New York" shirt, which she picked up in Manhattan for $12.
- She was inspired to make an updated version of the classic shirt that would feel nostalgic but a little fashion-forward.

- Two sheets of holographic iron-on was pilfered from Happy Crafters for $7.50.

In all, the project cost us:

(including the price of the iron-on, which we have a lot more left of in each of our sheets to use for other projects)

- Gloria's Shirt: $38.75
- Lauren's Shirt: $15.75
- One fun Sunday afternoon

Worth the time, totally worth saving the money, and already we're brainstorming other things we can holograph (totes? pouches? shoes?).

Check out our DIY below for how to make your own holographic tee.

...and don't forget to watch in HD :)

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DJ, Play That Song {the BLVD Playlist}

by Gloria Cavallaro in ,

I made a realization a few years ago that if music is on, I'm moving.  Can't control it, doesn't matter where I am - if the beat is good, I'm moving along to it.  This playlist is in-keeping with that theme - some serious beats to work to and some awesome artists with new releases to check out.

So press play, DJ, and start moving to these (mostly) new jams.  I'll be over here groovin' with ya.

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Monday Moodboosters {So Fresh and So Clean, Clean}

by Lauren Durden

We're helping you get through that terrible thing called Monday with some of our favorite clicks, tips, and snippets. 

We live in a day and age where if there isn't already an app for that, there should be. Ever since I was little I've been pining for the day when there would be a robot to clean my room for me, and though we're a little close to that now then we were in 1997 (Thanks, Roomba) we've got a long way to go.

Enter, two apps that are about to make your life a heck of a lot easier. Read ahead for this Monday's supa fresh tips and clicks.

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The Lust List {Treat Yo' Self... Or Someone Else}

by Gloria Cavallaro in , , , ,

Here at The BLVD, we are EXCELLENT gift givers (especially to ourselves).  But when the time comes to give to someone else.... you know it's obviously a competition.  Win the present giving war with this week's Lust List of too-cool accessories.  These items say "I thought about this," and "Clearly, I'm really cool to have picked this out for you. Be thankful, not only for the gift, but because I'm friends with you."  This is selflessness at its best.

Clockwise from top left: headphones: Frends, Layla, universal charger: Triple C, Green Juice Dual Power Bank, leather pouches: Etienne Aigner, Eva small pouch, iPhone speaker:, Giant Gem Speaker

Clockwise from top left: headphones: Frends, Layla, universal charger: Triple C, Green Juice Dual Power Bank, leather pouches: Etienne Aigner, Eva small pouch, iPhone speaker:, Giant Gem Speaker

The List

1.  Top of the list are these Frends headphones in Oil Slick.  They are so pretty, I just want to walk around Manhattan with these colorful domes on my ears.  They don't even have to playing music.
2.  Next is the Triple C dual power bank; an external battery that can charge two devices at once, including tablets, mobile devices, iPods, speakers and more.  The simple design and handcrafted wood exterior is so modern and, dare I say, debonair?  

3.  Then we have these iridescent leather pouches from Etienne Aigner.  For the gal on the go, pouches are a life saver: they easily organize all your things so when you're switching between bags (work bag to gym bag to evening bag to weekend backpack) you know you always have what you need and aren't frantically digging through all the loose items at the bottom of your Mary Poppins-esque satchel searching for your business card holder, roll-on fragrance, or bottle of Advil.  Believe me.  Pouches.

4.  Lastly, we have a gem of a gift (har har har).  This portable speaker plugs into the headphone jack of your phone, iPod, or laptop for a Beyonce break wherever you are.  The speaker can play continuously for up to 12 hrs so the party never has to end (or can at least last the whole night).  And, does it even need to be said, the bright pink diamond design screams "first apartment housewarming gift."  That and a bottle of wine. 

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Monday Moodboosters {Constellations and Collaborations}

by Gloria Cavallaro

It's just another manic Monday, but let us help you out a little bit with some #MondayMoodbooster magic.

Gloria's Pick:

If you're lucky enough to live in an area that allows you to see the stars at night, or if you spend the weekends somewhere that does, have I got the app for you.  In an impromptu meteor shower viewing, my friend downloaded Star Chart to my phone.  The app shows you what stars, constellations, satellites, or planets you're looking at, adding a smart dose of knowledge to your summer evenings just by turning your phone to the sky.  It's one of the few apps I don't mind getting push notifications from as it sends cool reminders about astronomical events (literally).  It is a great learning tool and the visuals are beautiful.  Unbelievably, Star Chart is free but even if there was a fee, this app is worth it.

Photo via iTunes

Photo via iTunes

Lauren's Pick:

If Jello conjures up flashbacks to lunchboxes in 3rd grade or the crude Jello shots of your college days, you need to check out Bompas and Parr's Projects. They've combined food, art, and culture in a whole new way and their projects are proof. From jelly-fied version of famous landmarks to their newest installation at the Museum of Sex in New York that's part funhouse, part lesson in erotica, they bring a whimsical twist to their collaborations, installations, and projects.

They work with big name global brands like Cornetto & Selfridges to make glow in the dark and cake putt putt golf courses. They've dyed whole rivers lime green. They've created fruity mist that envelopes you so you can taste the air as you walk through it. The list of bizarre and amazing goes on and on. As you can imagine, their website is a wonderland of all their past and present projects. If you're in need of a little inspiration this Monday afternoon, this is certainly click-worthy. 

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