- Six words or less: Peruvian, Spanish Harlem-Proud, Local Roast
- Location: 110th Street Between Lexington and Park
- Hours:6:30-6pm Weekdays & 7-6 Weekends
- Open Since: June 2015
- Amenities: Bathroom, Seating for 12, Outlets for 6, Free Wifi
- Must Try: El Barrio Blend: American Drip
Welcome to the barrio! Dan and Shanna Hildebrandt moved to East Harlem from Wooster, OH via California with the dream of bringing well-roasted, fresh coffee and community to Spanish Harlem. Dan started a coffee company, Reach Trade, with a friend Paul Cebul to link small farmers from Peru with coffee shops in order to fund social justice projects for clean water. While he travelled the States offering his beans to shops across the US, he and his wife Shanna decided to begin roasting and brewing their beans themselves.
Spanish Harlem, a community long established by the hard work of Spanish-speaking immigrants, found a home in Uptown Roasters. The Hildebrandts roast their coffee right around the corner on East 111th Street in a space they share with Neapolitan Express Pizza. (They were the only larger scale roasters in Manhattan at the time of publication.)
It is easy to imagine an invisible chain bending space and time as Peruvians grow the beans, Dan (who’s half Peruvian) imports the beans and roasts them, and the daughters and sons of South/Latin American immigrants drink the brew. Dan and Shanna discuss the shop with pride emphasizing the bonds formed in the shop as multi-generational Harlemites sip their morning coffee right alongside recent transplants hoping to make a name for themselves in the big city. The past, the present and even the future resonate out of this small shop’s long connections: East Harlem Tutorial, a local charter school and sponsor of after-school programs, has visited the roasters to learn the roasting process to open their own in-school cafe.
Currently roasting around 1000 pounds a week, the cafe specializes in four blends which all feature their Peruvian farmers: Arthur Avenue blend (an Italian roast named after the little Italy of the Bronx, Park Slope blend (designed for their most recent shop in the Brooklyn neighborhood), the El Barrio blend and the South Bronx blend. While I visited, I enjoyed the El Barrio blend. While still full of body and an undercurrent of brightness, it held up to a little milk as a slightly more developed roast does. Underneath all of these flavors, you’ll find the depth of personal connections that this shop has to this community and to the latin pride that fuels it from beans to brew.