Grind the Beans and They Will Come: Carthaigh Coffee Is Energizing Stone Ridge
“Coffee is a catalyst for community,” says Andrew McCarthy, owner of Stone Ridge’s newest (and only) coffee shop. Carthaigh Coffee had its grand opening on August 12, but starting his own shop has been on McCarthy’s mind for five years, since his start slinging coffee at Lewis & Clark College’s co-op study lounge as a freshman. After dropping out of college and moving to NYC, McCarthy worked his way up through various shops, cafés, roasteries and coffee distributors, developing succinct understandings and philosophies about those little brown beans. One of those understandings: how eight ounces of a liquid can stimulate local camaraderie and global social justice.
But as it is a process to get from beans on a tree to cappuccino in a cup, it was a process for McCarthy to secure the community space he now holds dear. Step one was realizing his industrial New York City lifestyle was not suiting him anymore.
“I hit a wall dealing with a lot of personal stuff: depression, drugs. It was a dark time. I kind of reached my breaking point. I needed a new environment, I needed new people, I needed a new job, all of that. I got back in touch with my father, who I hadn’t talked to since I left college, and moved into his home up here. I raised some chickens and worked at a restaurant down the street. Being here [in the Hudson Valley] became less of a window into nature and more of a want to roll around in the dirt. I wanted to get grounded somewhere, literally feel the soil,” he says.
Many McCarthy’s fellow city-ites also have realized they want to roll around in the dirt and are making similar migrations north. This recent exodus from NYC greatly affected step two in McCarthy’s journey to making Carthaigh Coffee a reality: Persuading the town of Stone Ridge to let him open.
“The town knows they are kind of obstructive. But people here are hesitant because they don’t want all these Brooklyn expats coming up and taking over and changing things for the quote unquote worse,” says McCarthy. How will his shop respect the ideals of the place and people it will be serving? By featuring local artists and their art, hosting events including poetry readings and coffee education classes, starting a zine library and establishing a collaborative community space—free of judgment, seclusion and, most of all, pretention.
“I have a theory about pretention and coffee and it’s all very much rooted in the multi- sensory experience. If somebody walks in and they feel intimidated, the person behind the bar needs to be able to recognize that and address that and take that person on a journey through their product as opposed to having a one-size-fits-all model. There are barriers to entry in coffee that I want to disband. If somebody walks in here asking for a caramel frappuccino, I’m not going to laugh and say ‘No! What do you think this is, Starbucks?!’ I am going to talk to them and tell them why I think what I have is comparable or what a good substitute would be. And to not only explain but explain it so the person feels comfortable and learns something. Even when you get a black cup of coffee just anywhere you aren’t thinking about the poor people in Africa and rural farmers and these distributions on the other side of the world. I think the more we can connect the dots, it will allow people to make the right decisions,” says McCarthy.
Carthaigh Coffee is open 8am–5pm Monday–Thursday and until 6pm Friday–Sunday. Follow the shop on social media or check online for updates about art installments and upcoming events.