Bean Counters

Bean Counters

R yan Taylor, owner of two-month-old The Coffee Pedaler in East Rock, is comparing footwear with a four-year-old girl. He bends down to inspect her shoes, sparkly and pink in the bright light of the shop.

“Wow, those are cool,” he says. “Cooler than mine.”

“My favorite color is pink,” she says.

“Hey, mine too!” Taylor says, and the two high-five.

Don’t let that whimsical exchange fool you; The Coffee Pedaler is quite serious about its coffee, specializing in “pour-over” brews. For single cups, the shop employs the Hario V60 coffee dripper, but we’re getting ahead of things. First, 22 to 25 grams of whole beans are weighed out on a digital scale, then ground and placed into a filter, which sits inside the dripper—a v-shaped ceramic piece. The dripper is then placed over a glass pot. Water heated to between 195 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit is poured through it slowly, clockwise, until the desired cup size is reached. It’s a careful, mesmerizing process—the coffee splashing quietly into beaker-like pots, steam rising out of the filter—for a result that’s meant to get us up and going.

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If you swing by with a few pals, you might consider getting a full Chemex, another pour-over method involving a glass, vase-like brewing container with a wood handle. Its capacity is 32 ounces, good for a small group sitting around one of the Pedaler’s long, hickory tables. And if someone’s hungry, the Pedaler has yogurt, granola and sandwiches, plus vegan pastries from Bread & Chocolate in Hamden.

Taylor talks knowledgeably about particular coffee beans’ respective complexities and the different “flavor windows” a freshly brewed cup of coffee goes through. (As a cup slowly cools, the flavors become a little more complex before they eventually flatten out.) It all started with a cup he had a few years ago at Gimme! Coffee in Brooklyn, where the pour-over is a popular menu item. “Once I had that really, really good cup of coffee,” he says, “that’s when I knew I eventually wanted to do something” with it.

Taylor’s initial plan was to create a full-service coffee cart that would post up in different Elm City locales. Of all things, a passion for collecting, rehabbing and sometimes selling vintage bicycles altered that plan considerably, by connecting him with his future business partner, Jay Zand. Zand bought one of Taylor’s bike frames, and the two eventually became close friends. Taylor’s love for good coffee led the pair to San Francisco, where the pour-over method is well-represented. He wanted Zand to see it up close.

“I knew coffee as a craft in an intimate environment existed, but I never saw it and experienced it firsthand. I wanted to show [Zand] to say, ‘Hey, this is what I want to do in New Haven,’” Taylor says.

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After that trip, Zand agreed to invest in the business, buying the former hair salon where the Pedaler is currently housed. The partners incorporated their shared passion for cycling into the shop’s name and interior, where a portion of Zand’s bike collection lines an exposed-brick wall. Out front on the sidewalk there’s a pump available for those traveling by bike, courtesy of The Devil’s Gear Bike Shop on Orange Street.

The west-coast vibe Taylor was gunning for has produced an open warmth that makes the light-wooded, avocado-green-painted place especially inviting. He greets a group with a hearty “Hey dudes!” as he sets up their cups and proceeds with the coffee-making, keeping up the conversation all the same, touting what he says is a particularly robust bean from Panama.

If you want a crash course in the shop’s methods, that’s easy: just belly up to the bar where Taylor and his stable of baristas are happy to show and tell. “I get into it,” Taylor says of his coffee talk. “But I don’t ever want it to present itself in a pretentious manner. If you want me to give you a little bit of insight, though, I absolutely will.”

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At a table near the door, a schoolteacher who’s a Pedaler regular sits and grades papers while she waits for her drink. Taylor catches her eye and says, “Need a little room in here?” referring to the space left at the top of the cup for cream.

“No,” she quips, “you’ve cured me of that disease.” Taylor smiles and carries a comically full cup of coffee apprehensively toward her table. “I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it!” he reassures her, or maybe himself, as he balances on the balls of his feet and sets it down intact.

The Coffee Pedaler
605 East St, New Haven (map)
Mon-Fri 7am-5pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 9am-4pm
(203) 777-2466
https://www.facebook.com/thecoffeepedalernewhaven

Written and photographed by Jake Goldman.

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Jake is a writer and a teacher whose fiction and non-fiction can be found in Abe's Penny, The Huffington Post, The New York Press and elsewhere. For a spell, he made a living writing 'comedic ringtones,' which meant hundreds of really bad cellphone-related knock-knock jokes and puns. He lives in New Haven with his wife and cats.

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