Coffee Talk: Andrew Chen of 3sixteen/Self-Edge


Transient

I met up with my friend Andrew Chen, co-owner of 3sixteen, Self-Edge and the new Chapters & Verse Agency, at Self-Edge's New York store in the Lower East Side. 

Backstage at Self-Edge: A dedicated coffee brewing table

Backstage at Self-Edge: A dedicated coffee brewing table

The Essential Man: Is coffee vital to your process? Creativity? Do you need coffee to start your day properly?

Andrew: When I get into the office, the first thing I'll usually do is make myself some coffee; it's not that I need it to start my day properly, but the act of making it is soothing and therapeutic and is sometimes just as enjoyable as drinking the finished product. As long as I don't have some emergency to attend to, I'll take my time to make my coffee and sit still for a little bit before the hectic day begins.

Coffee is not only vital to my process; I consider it an integral part of hosting and welcoming visitors into my space. Whenever I have someone stopping by, I like to offer them a freshly brewed cup of coffee that I make for them on the spot. For people who are coffee geeks, they're delighted to see the setup and are excited to try whatever beans I might have on hand that day. For others who haven't enjoyed  prepared this way, it's a good way to introduce them to what good coffee can taste like. I feel that coffee is just as social of a drink as a beer - drinking it together with someone facilitates community in some small way. And that's important to me: that when someone stops by my office, they feel comfortable and at home.

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The Essential Man: What are your current favorite coffee beans right now?

Andrew: My favorite beans for the past few months have been the Honduras Don Medardo from Handsome Coffee Roasters. I've been drinking it consistently and it continues to be a complex, enjoyable cup no matter how I brew it: Clever, Aeropress, or Chemex.

Baratza Burr Grinder. Burr grinders are preffered over blade grinders as blades produce uneven grinds and heat, which can burn the final product. 

Baratza Burr Grinder. Burr grinders are preffered over blade grinders as blades produce uneven grinds and heat, which can burn the final product. 

While Andrew uses an Aeropress at home for a single cup, at the Self-Edge offices he goes with a paper filter Chemex (handle version, as it's easier to pour), allowing him to make cups for the staff and visitors. 

A long neck kettle, like this Hario v60, helps ensure even water distribution. Wetting the paper filter helps it stay in place. 

A long neck kettle, like this Hario v60, helps ensure even water distribution. Wetting the paper filter helps it stay in place. 

Blooming is when you pour just enough hot water on your freshly ground coffee, allowing them to release their CO2. 

Blooming is when you pour just enough hot water on your freshly ground coffee, allowing them to release their CO2. 

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Bodum Double Wall Cups keep you from burning your hands and having to constantly set the cups down. 

Bodum Double Wall Cups keep you from burning your hands and having to constantly set the cups down. 

The Essential Man: Have you always been a fan of coffee?

Andrew: I've always been a fan of coffee (and its magical effects) but as far as specialty roasted, single origin coffees go, I probably got into it 3 years ago through some close friends who were roasting beans on their own and went on to open their own cafe: Norm and Wilson from Coffee Foundry. Through them, I really learned to enjoy coffee black because when you're enjoying quality coffee beans, you don't need to cover it up with milk or sugar. Drinking a good cup of coffee black is like enjoying a glass of wine - the different flavor notes really jump out at you, and you'll be amazed that coffee can taste this complex. That's not to say that I don't enjoy a coffee with cream & sugar every now and again, it's a very comforting taste and reminds me of how I first started enjoying the beverage to begin with. 

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