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A Letter from our Founder: A Decade of Parlor

When I set out to build a business at the age of twenty-two, I was merely an energetic barista working for a burgeoning third-wave coffee brand. I had come to New York City two years prior, filled to the brim with ideals and enthusiasm—especially about coffee. New York had only recently become a town where you could find a well-extracted espresso; it was still early in its transition out of an era in which deli coffee reigned supreme, a time when many New Yorkers saw coffee as little more than fuel for the morning commute, often ordered "light and sweet" and rarely costing more than a dollar.

As a humble foot soldier on the front line of what felt like a budding specialty-coffee revolution, I believed in the notion that great coffee is extraordinary, that its flavors can be remarkably complex and diverse in range, and that when done right it’s worth savoring and celebrating. But most of all I believed that the people who produce it should be identified, connected with, and championed at least as much as the farmers behind the ingredients extolled on the menus of the town's top restaurants. Even if those producers live in a world seemingly so far from ours.

As I developed these convictions, I found myself getting restless with my limited role in the revolution. So I set out to build something that could embody my beliefs and serve as a beacon at the dawn of a new era for coffee culture in New York City. With little more than that inspiration, I launched Parlor Coffee as a pop-up in the back of a barbershop in Brooklyn, serving one cup at a time. At first, the constraints were endless: my shoestring budget meant the only things I could splurge on were the best coffee I could find, rented time on another company’s roaster, and a custom single-group espresso machine. Bit by bit, one foot in front of the other, I built momentum, and before too long I was making my first coffee delivery to a restaurant in midtown Manhattan. (I didn't have a car, so I brought it over in a yellow taxi, asking the driver to drop me off down the block so the restaurant owners wouldn’t see me unloading forty-five pounds of coffee from the back of a cab.)

Now, as I look back on the incredible decade I’ve spent building Parlor Coffee, I’m so grateful to everyone who believed in this dream too, who encouraged me to continue marching on, and who kept me from losing sight of the greater purpose that drove me to found this business. It’s been an incredible privilege to make genuine connections with so many farmers, exporters, and agronomists around the globe, to learn their stories and present their coffees with honesty and reverence, and to connect this vision downstream with our team of roasters and employees—who have carried it forward in their turn: to our customers who order our coffee directly, and to the many loyal shop owners and baristas who serve Parlor Coffee and allow us to keep doing the work we do.

I certainly didn’t accomplish any of this alone, and while no amount of thanks could sufficiently express my gratitude to each and every soul who helped Parlor become the company it is today, I'd be remiss to not salute a few people here. My wife, who was there at the very beginning, doing quite literally every single job alongside me. My business partner, who works harder than anyone I know, and who’s been an invaluable ally and guide as we’ve built a kernel of a vision into a bona fide company. Our employees, who have all played a critical role in making this possible. Our community of coffee producers around the globe, who deserve so much for the underappreciated work they do. Our incredible stakeholders—our customers, our advisors, and our investors. And those brave souls who came to the back of the barbershop ten years ago and believed me when I said we were going to source and roast the finest coffee on earth. We're still working to uphold that promise today, and we don't plan to stop anytime soon. We’ll get up tomorrow, turn on the roaster, weigh out the next batch, and load it into the drum. When the roast curve starts to take, we'll raise a cup to all those people who have made this possible.