Freddy builds Sweetleaf with the help of some friends and Sweetleaf opens in March 2008. A couple of weeks later, he asks his long time friend (20+yrs!), old bandmate, and brother-in-law Rich Nieto to partner up with him.
Sell good coffee and baked goods out of a charming, quaint little spot in a 19th century building in Long Island City.
The trip to Seattle
In October 2008 Rich flies to Seattle to check out the coffee scene. He tastes Stumptown coffee for the first time and is immediately convinced that it needs to be brewed at Sweetleaf. Two weeks later Sweetleaf becomes the second espresso bar in NYC to serve Stumptown (now Stumptown is the most well known specialty coffee roaster in NYC).
Freddy decides it’s time to pick up the baking game and Sweetleaf starts baking everything in house.
Sweetleaf also upgrades all its equipment, the pride and joy being Dorothy, a La Marzocco Linea espresso machine. She’s suped up like a hot rod with all the bells and whistles, making her more than able to step into the ring with Stumptown’s Hair Bender.
Beverly Lauchner comes on board and begins an all out baking assault on LIC. The former menu of cookies and muffins is revamped to include cakes, pies, scones, tartlets, fondue, and now even soup and lunch items.
Freddy disappears next door for three months only to return and unveil one of the most beautiful cafes in NYC. He exposes the building’s original tin walls and ceiling, playing up the old world feel and allowing the beauty of the building to speak for itself. Working on a budget the size of a coffee bean he uses recycled, original wood from where else but the very same building.
With 30+ bodies working tirelessly into the night the transition is complete. Sweetleaf reopens in October at three times the size and with three distinct sections including a laptop room and a vinyl room for listening to records.
Sweetleaf introduces Queens to it’s first pour-over bar where the world’s most exclusive coffees get brewed one delicious cup at a time.
Sweetleaf also brings Verve Coffee roasters from Santa Cruz, California on board and becomes the only espresso bar in NYC to serve their coffee. In fact they buy another Mazzer Robur E (one of the best grinders in the world) to exclusively pull shots of Verve Coffee. At Sweetleaf you can now choose between NYC staple Stumptown or go indie rock style and enjoy a Verve coffee that you won’t find anywhere else in NYC.
How about a Sweetleaf 2? In the works! Stay tuned.