In our article series “Facts,” we’ll be talking with members of the coffee shop ecosystem that inspire us, from bakeries to manufacturers, consumer products, and everyone else in between. We want to get to know these folks, and we want you to, too. We’ll be asking everyone the same three questions—the answers, though, will be wildly different.

Up now: Faith and Brandon Lee, owners of specialty coffee shop Bird & Branch. Their bright, beloved location in Hell’s Kitchen has become a favorite haunt for locals. The Lees opened the shop with the mission of building community, working with NYC’s Hope Organization to institute a job training program for people who’ve historically run into a lot of barriers when seeking employment.

That investment in community was a boon when COVID-19 hit; well over a hundred donors contributed to a Bird & Branch Gofundme to help cover wages for their employees during the citywide shutdown. But Bird & Branch is back, and they’re cooking up some more delightfully unexpected flavor combinations for us. Here’s what Faith and Brandon had to say.

What is Bird & Branch best known for?

Most customers became regulars because of our coffee from Saint Frank and the house-made almond macadamia milk, both of which you cannot find elsewhere in NYC. Out of our baked goods, people have consistently loved the peanut butter chocolate cookies and our matcha and black sesame squares.

What was the first drink you made?

The first signature drink we developed was the Blackbird—espresso mixed with house-made almond macadamia milk, blackberry sauce, and garnished with thyme.

What are you working on that no one knows about yet?

We are currently developing a shave ice menu to beat the summer heat and help provide some more dessert options in Hell's Kitchen. The menu will be influenced by Taiwanese and Hawaiian styles of shave ice.

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