There’s a new chai in town here in Greenpoint and it comes from the owner of local favorite Crema coffee shop. Alkemy Brewlab opened its doors in October 2017 at 290 Nassau Ave, at the corner of Hausman Street. It may seem a little off the beaten path but it’s only four blocks from McGolrick Park and well worth a visit.
The Nassau location is a compact but fully functioning coffee shop complete with requisite treats from fellow Greenpointers at Ovenly (31 Greenpoint Ave). Alkemy focuses on doing two products really well: cold brew and chai. Most notable is the innovative and highly functional cold brew kit which allows you to create your own high-quality brew at home or on the go. This is a game changer for campers and other outdoorsy types but also for all of you traveling coffee snobs out there.
If you are a chai drinker, chances are you’ve already had Alkemy’s blend as it’s served at dozens of locations across the city. For a list of stockists, check their website where you can also purchase the chai concentrate and cold brew kit directly.
Last week Greenpointers caught up with owner Jin to find out about their process thus far, plans for the future and what it’s been like opening up a second shop in Greenpoint.
GP: What inspired you to tackle cold brew and chai concentrate specifically?
Jin: When we opened our first coffee shop Crema BK in 2013 in Greenpoint, the coffee and espresso beans were being excellently roasted and provided to us by Toby’s Estate in Williamsburg. Great cold brew coffee and chai concentrate, on the other hand, were not available for wholesale purchase and so we decided to work on brewing our own. We spent a lot of time and energy in developing these two items to meet our high standards over the years and eventually led us to starting a brand Alkemy Brewlab to focus on producing these two products.
GP: How long did it take to develop your products?
Jin: It took us about 2 ½ years of brewing and tweaking our chai to arrive at our current recipe that we sell at our shops and wholesale. Since every aspect of the chai making process including the amount of each spice in the masala, the brewing/steeping time and filtering methods affect how the final chai tastes it took continued and resilient efforts to arrive at the chai that we brew today.
Cold brew coffee was much easier to develop in comparison to our chai, but we did go through quite a bit of coffee from many coffee-growing regions to find the beans that we preferred as cold brew coffee. We then had to determine a certain roast profile or roasting level to bring out the best qualities of the beans for our cold brew. Overall, it was a walk in the park compared to our chai recipe!
GP: What are your plans for the future? Any other products in the works?
Jin: For the immediate future we will continually work with our distributor partner The Dairy Wagon to steadily grow our wholesale chai business in the New York City where Alkemy chai is currently served at over 50 cafes and restaurants. We are also looking to develop a RTD (ready to drink) chai item in future to reach a wider audience.
GP: Why did you choose to open Alkemy in Greenpoint? What do you like about being in this neighborhood?
Jin: I wanted to open Alkemy in Greenpoint, as my experience of running a retail business has been really great at Crema. The patron base of Greenpoint is amazingly kind and gracious in my opinion, and I didn’t look anywhere else but Greenpoint when we decided to look for a space for Alkemy.
GP: How has the community response to the shop been?
Jin: The response to the shop by the community has been incredibly warm and welcoming. Everyone in the neighborhood is so appreciative that we opened the shop in the area so distant from the subway stop, and the support of our business was felt immediately since the opening with sales far exceeding our expectations. We are looking forward to developing our business and relationships with our patrons for years to come at Alkemy.
Alkemy Brewlab is located at 290 Nassau Avenue. They are open 8am to 3pm, every day.