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Why We're Hooked on Cold Brew Coffee: 5 Minutes with Jeremy Lyman of Birch Coffee

Most of us can't live without our morning coffee. The jolt of much-needed caffiene is a necessary part of our morning ritual to get us up and energized for the day. And, when made right, it also tastes really really good. 

The Celebrations.com office is a mere block away from one of the best coffee houses in Manhattan, Birch Coffee. Odds are, you'll find at least one of us in there during the morning rush for our pre-work cup of joe, or getting our energy fix during the dreaded 3 p.m. slump. But it's not just the quality of the coffee that keeps us coming back; it's the quality of the people and the establishment, too. 

Jeremy Lyman, co-founder of the Manhattan craft coffee house is not only a coffee lover; he's also passionate about serving people. With his interest in helping others, love of the food industry and affinity for creating new ideas, Jeremy founded the popular New York City coffee house with his partner Paul Schlader.

We grabbed a few minutes with the entrepreneur, in which he dished on how the coffee house came to be, the secret behind their to-die-for cold brew coffee, and the biggest profit-driver for cofee shops (hint: it's NOT your warm java!). 


Q: What inspired you to open Birch?

A: After having worked in the [food] service industry for several years, I took a short break to have a go in the more "corporate" work force​. This lasted a surprising three years, but my heart never left the [food] service industry. I had been working on a business plan to build a small local coffee shop where people could simply go and be themselves. I always had such wonderful experiences in other people's coffee shops and thought there was no reason I couldn't create and foster this myself.  So, Birch was born.  


Q: What would people be most surprised to learn about owning a coffee shop?

A: A lot. So, I'll try to just list a couple.  One, I don't drink 17 cups of coffee a day. Two, it doesn't take only a few weeks to build and open a coffee shop. Three, coffee isn't the most profitable item in a coffee shop.  It's TEA!  ​


Q: How do you take your coffee?

A: When it's hot, black.  When it's iced, 75% black, 25% of the time with a touch of cream.  ​


Q: What is the difference between cold brew coffee and traditional iced coffee?

A: ​ A lot.  Traditional iced coffee is just hot coffee tossed in the fridge and then poured over ice. It means it was meant to be served hot and is a real afterthought.  Cold brew is a 24 hour brewing method which is done specifically to serve as iced coffee. The cold water strips much less acidity from the bean making it a lot more drinkable for many people. It also allows the people preparing the coffee to add more or less water to the coffee to get the desired flavor. Like with any food crop, no two coffee beans are alike and sometimes there can be subtle differences between roasts. In order to mitigate the chances of having a coffee not tasting the same and inconsistent, we taste every cold brew batch and dilute it based on flavor and not solely on the recipe.  

Q: What is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to ordering coffee?

A: ​ I don't think I could really ever call them "mistakes". The big guys in the industry have perhaps changed what people perceive as accurate. For example, a macchiatto is a shot of espresso and a touch of steamed milk.  It has nothing to do with caramel nor has it ever. However, after certain companies created their menus to be more fitting for the masses, caramel seemed more appropriate so on occasion we will have someone come in and order a macchiatto and when they find there is no hint of caramel, we get the human version of a sad face emoji.  But, people generally enjoy it anyhow.  Aside from that, people like what they like and order accordingly. Although, now that I think about it, often people will ask for a "tall" this or a "grande" that.  I am more familiar with small, medium, and large.  

Q: What is your favorite thing on the Birch menu? 
 ​A: Coffee: Cold Brew.  Food: Cheddar, Tomato, Avocado Grilled Cheese.  

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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