This month marks ten years since the family that owned Triphammer Wines & Spirits bought the cute but sleepy gourmet shop that had been their neighbor in the Triphammer Mall for decades. This weekend, the Ithaca Coffee Company celebrates their tenth anniversary with a party at their new roasting facility on Ithaca's northside.
It's a testament to how much the business has evolved since owner Julie Crowley took over what was then called Gourmet's Delight. As it did then, the store still sells a wide variety of cheeses and other gourmet foods, as well as premium coffees and teas and the implements with which to prepare them. But the business, which moved to the front of the Triphammer Mall, soon began roasting its own coffee, set up an espresso bar to offer fresh coffee drinks, before long added bottles and six-packs of craft beer, and then opened a second retail location at the new Gateway Commons building in Downtown Ithaca.
Ithaca Coffee Company's Tavern on Triphammer. 14850 Photo.James Dean, until a few years ago a bartender in Collegetown, helped expand the beer offerings at both locations, turning some of the space in each store into a tavern offering several beers on tap or in bottles, wines by the glass, and even cheese plates (a natural extension of the gourmet business) and simple sandwiches.
"It's been a great experience to offer an ever expanding selection of beers to a customer base that's willing to try something new," says Dean, who organizes a weekly tasting featuring a craft brewer from near or far. Customers can try a couple of tastes, enjoy a pint and a snack while watching the World Cup, or fill a growler to take home. "As I've been here the past couple years I've seen, through our tastings and draft offerings, people's palates change and grow. It makes me feel good to add something to people's drinking enjoyment."
Ithaca Coffee Company's new roastery at the corner of Hancock and Fifth Streets.The new roasting facility, an unassuming cinder-block building on Ithaca's northside that didn't even have a sign identifying it until this week, is pure production space. Operating since last fall, the facility has allowed the company to expand production to serve a growing customer base as well as retail outlets like P&C Fresh, which has expanded its offerings from local food and beverage producers. Just as importantly, it freed up space in ICC's Triphammer location for an expanded Tavern -- more tables, wine dispensers like those at Corks & More, and a bigger selection of bottles for sale. Ithaca Coffee Company marketing director Aaron Rovitz says the new facility is also "a space that is easier for deliveries and general movement, and allows room for further growth."
Saturday afternoon's anniversary party will be in and around the new roastery, and the weather looks just about perfect for it. Admission to the family-friendly event will be free, as will tours of the new facility and coffee samples, and there will be free tastings as well as food and beverages available for purchase.
T.J. Sheehan Distributing's Great Brewers beer trailer. Those knobs along the side are beer taps!Leslie Muhlhahn of Finger Lakes Flatbread and Just Desserts fame will set up her wood-fired oven to make flatbread pizzas after the Farmers Market closes for the day, Purity Ice Cream will be offering free junior scoops, Wagner Vineyards will be offering a free wine tasting and selling wines by the glass, and there will be 18 fresh craft beers on tap thanks to T.J. Sheehan's Great Brewers trailer, available by the glass or by the 4-ounce taste.
Local band Radio London will be providing live entertainment through the afternoon event, which is scheduled from 4-7pm on Saturday, June 21st. Ithaca Coffee Company asks that people bring cash, as they won't be set up to take credit cards for any purchases, and they remind attendees to bring photo ID if they'd like to sample or purchase alcohol at the event.
The roasting facility is at 702 Hancock Street, at the corner of Hancock and Fifth Streets, not far from Purity Ice Cream and the Ithaca Farmers Market. You can get there from Route 13 northbound by turning onto Hancock just past Purity, from Route 13 southbound by turning left onto Third Street, or from downtown by taking Cayuga Street north and turning left onto Tompkins Street, which becomes Hancock.