October 7, 2020

Birch Coffee Gives a Cup of Kindness

For our Community series, we’re asking our coffee shop partners to answer a few questions to help everyone get to know these delightful folks and their shops. We heart our partners, and we think you will, too. 

Our next guest is Jeremy Lyman, co-owner of NYC’s Birch Coffee. Birch opened in the throes of the financial crisis of 2009, but Lyman’s guiding ethos of kindness and empathy has stood the shop in good stead. Birch Coffee now has 14 locations around New York City and a whole host of retail partners.

“I got into this business in order to connect with as many people, daily, as I could,” Lyman told us. “We have been trying to do that since Day 1 and the more people we connect with, the more people we get to have a positive impact on.” Read on for more meditations on connection.     

When did you decide to open your shop? 

I've been working in the hospitality industry since the late ‘90s. I completely fell in love with it while I was helping pay my way through college and though I did somehow earn a degree, I dove head first into the industry upon graduation. I always knew I would end up staying in hospitality, but the idea for the coffee shop came to me in 2007. I simply loved being in a coffee shop—reading, talking to random folks. I felt at home whenever I found myself at a coffee shop whether it was in New York or anywhere else. Although the decision that I wanted to open a shop came to me in 2007, it didn't actually happen until the second half of 2009 at which point my business partner, Paul, and I opened our first Birch Coffee in the front of the Gershwin Hotel on 27th Street and Fifth Ave. 

What makes your shop special?

It's a collection of things that make Birch Coffee truly unique. While our coffee is certainly at the top of its game, you can definitely find plenty of great coffee throughout the city. What truly allows us to stand out is our commitment to service. People come in for a coffee but it is something that becomes part of their routine. When we are a daily stop in someone's day, it is our responsibility to make that experience a truly memorable one. It is what keeps people returning. A smile from a barista goes an extremely long way. Not only do we connect with people but we help foster connections between customers. When you see the same person standing in front of you in line almost every day, there is no reason not to say hello. Even though we live in a city of millions of people, connecting isn't that hard. We help make that happen while giving customers the smile they crave in the process.

What's your staff's superpower?

Well, it's tough to give just one so I'll say two. Kindness and empathy are what truly set us apart. The ability to be able to display kindness and be empathetic to each and every one of our customers is not an easy task. Everyone is in a different place at all times and so the ability for our team to meet our customers where they are at that particular moment is, as far as I'm concerned, a superpower!

What do you love about your customers?

Well, the fact that they trust us to be one of their first interactions of the day speaks volumes. We get to hear about what brought people to our store, what brought people to NY, and what simply makes people tick. I'm blessed to do what I do and will continue to do so indefinitely. 

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