Cafe Stories: Native Coffee + Kitchen

The staff at Native Coffee + Kitchen. Image credit: http://www.alexisthegreek.com

Seattle Coffee Gear’s focus is simple - make coffee you love, wherever you may be. While so much of that happens in kitchens at home, our commercial team works closely with driven business owners across the country to find the equipment that will best fit their goals! Whether it’s a bookstore serving up a few dozen drinks a day or a high volume metropolitan café cranking out a couple hundred drinks a morning, our relatable and researched crew is helping baristas all over “make coffee your customers will love!”

We know every business has a great backstory, and we’re excited to share a glimpse into these with a new ongoing blog feature called “Café Stories”.

Native Coffee + Kitchen. Image credit: http://www.alexisthegreek.com Native Coffee + Kitchen. Image credit: http://www.alexisthegreek.com

Starting on the Eastern Seaboard, we begin with Native Coffee + Kitchen! Opened in the summer of 2017, Native is a “family-owned, locally sourced, chef-inspired, team-driven, and eco-conscious” dining space based in Rye, New Hampshire. We chatted with founder Josh Newman to get a better look at what sets this community centric space apart from other shops. Combining elements of homegrown recipes with a progressive coffee and kitchen menu sets Native apart!

Where is Rye, NH? What the heck is scrapple? Why the Rocket R9 over another espresso machine? Native Coffee + Kitchen Founder Josh Newman gives us the details below!

First and foremost, take me back to the initial conversations about Native. How did that come about? Was it something that had been brewing for a bit or just a strike of genius.

Founders Josh and Christina Newman with their children Clive and Natalie. Image credit: http://www.alexisthegreek.com Founders Josh and Christina Newman with their children Clive and Natalie. Image credit: http://www.alexisthegreek.com

It wasn’t until our local coffee shop closed down that we were energized to start our own business. We noticed a void in our community and realized the importance of having an independent café that truly caters and connects with their customers. As they say, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

My wife and I both share a passion for food and coffee, we appreciate flavor whether it be ethnic cuisines or single origin coffees. As parents with 2 young children, we also know the challenge in finding high quality coffee and food at the same establishment. This led us down the path of a fast casual restaurant with a 3rd wave coffee/tea service combined with a chef inspired menu. We were determined to create an environment where the whole family was comfortable and people of all ages and backgrounds felt welcome.

It’s clear that there is a deep connection between Native and its community. Tell me about about Rye, NH and how that’s affected Native.

For us, sustainability extends beyond the environmental impacts of running a business. It speaks to developing a sustainable relationship with our community, we owe it to our local customers to support their community. Native is blessed to be located on the Seacoast of New Hampshire. In addition to being surrounded by great history and tradition, we have a diverse and strong community. The New Hampshire Seacoast only accounts for 13 miles along the Atlantic Ocean, it is truly incredible place to live with a close-knit community. There is a shared value in our environment and outdoor activities with beautiful state parks and beaches, education, arts, and most importantly, helping others. At Native, we donate to various charities on a monthly basis whether it be food/beverages, gift cards or baskets. It is honestly the most rewarding part of the job.

You guys mention it a handful of times on your site - “Have a seat at the table.” It seems like that’s something bigger than just asking customers to come in for a bite. What’s the ethos behind that?

Living in seasonal area with many tourists and transients, retirees, young professionals, and families, we wanted to create an environment where everybody felt comfortable when they walked in the door. The space was designed to be open and bright, the seating is communal and there is also an outdoor area to roam for adults, little ones, and our four-legged friends. The food and drink menu is intended to be accessible and unpretentious. We know we can’t please everybody and constructive criticism is inevitable, but it just makes us determined to get better each day.

Native’s food offerings seems like a balance of local favorites with a healthy slant. How did you build out your menu?

The Native menu was created by our Executive Chef, Mike Piergrossi. Mike has a diverse background in fine dining including some of the best restaurants on the Seacoast. The Native menu reflects our shared values of local ingredients, sustainable methods, and simplicity. We offer an all-day breakfast menu including bowls and toasts, specialty sandwiches, salads, and soups/broths. We source all of our meat, dairy, and produce from local farms and have options for both carnivores and vegetarians. We have a very active customer base, we have guests who visit us after Crossfit, Surfing, Yoga, Cycling, and Hiking, so we know the importance of healthy and clean food. We also have an awesome kid’s menu with the basics using high quality ingredients like our French Toast shaped like sharks made from brioche and served with NH maple syrup and our Jr Native Burger made from house ground grass-fed beef brisket.

Scrapple - a Pennsylvania Dutch delicacy. Image credit: http://www.alexisthegreek.com Scrapple - a Pennsylvania Dutch delicacy. Image credit: http://www.alexisthegreek.com

What on earth is “Scrapple"? 

We call Scrapple, God’s Polenta. It is a question we get from our customers every day and we are happy to answer it! It is considered a peasant food with origins in the Pennsylvania Dutch culture. It uses pork scraps and cornmeal and then formed into a loaf, the final product has wonderful flavor and texture. One of our favorite menu options is the Work N Class which is a bowl of our crispy hash browns and garlic greens, topped with Scrapple, a sunny egg and smoked maple syrup. Scrapple is a perfect reflection of our menu as a whole, that is why we call it a simple necessity.

Obviously we’ve got to talk about coffee. You’re using New Harvest Coffee out of Rhode Island and have chosen to have a full third-wave espresso bar. What made you guys go that route?

We actually found New Harvest Coffee late in our search, but we were really blown away by the variety of coffee they offered and the consistent quality. They offer accessible and tasty blends while also having direct connections with the growers which allows them to provide single origin offerings from across the world. New Harvest is really a great partner; they truly care about spreading their love of coffee to their customers and have super wholesale support.

Over the years, I have learned the importance of equipment and talented baristas, it takes a tremendous amount of knowledge to operate an espresso bar at a consistently high quality level. As a customer, there is nothing more disappointing than a bad cup of coffee or improperly made latte. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be made with care and attention. I believe our baristas are equally as important and talented as our chefs, there are so many similarities which is really fun to watch in person on a daily basis.

Custom white Rocket R9. A centerpiece at Native. Image credit: http://www.alexisthegreek.com

Situated in the middle of your bar is a beautiful, custom white Rocket R9! What made you chose that machine over others?

The R9 was the first piece of equipment we purchased and sat in my garage for about 2 months before it was ready for installation. It really became a focal point of our design and created a lot of excitement for our employees, vendors, and customers. Honestly, I was very close to buying a La Morzocco Linea PB when I visited SCG.com and learned about Rocket. I thought the R9 was visually stunning and spent a couple weeks researching the product and calling customer references. The combination of the sleek design, functionality, which was backed up by a really strong Rocket brand. Rocket’s association and support with cycling was also appealing as we have a very active cycling community and are located on a major cycling route. We feel Native is a unique concept, so we wanted an equally special espresso machine.

The Rocket R9 in action. Image credit: http://www.alexisthegreek.com The Rocket R9 in action. Image credit: http://www.alexisthegreek.com

What else should people know about Native? 

I think the blog post sums us up pretty well, I wrote this after our first month of business:

Native was built on the concept of 3rd wave coffee combined with a chef-inspired menu, blending the creative side of both food and coffee with the goal of finding synergy between these two different worlds.

Native is for the community. We designed a space and menu to bring the seacoast community together, a place that would make every guest feel like a local. A comfortable spot for families, where kids have a space of their own and parents can relax and enjoy high quality food and drink.

Native is local. We source almost exclusively from local vendors. This not only gives us access to the best products available, but allows us to build strong partnerships.

Native is powered by our employees. We have a talented staff who love what they do and are always excited to collaborate. We don't underestimate the value of this. We believe in paying a living wage and providing work-life balance. Easier said than done, in this industry, especially when trying to provide value to your guest. But we value our employees and return to this value constantly.

Native is focused on exceptional service. We want to have great communication with our guests. We need to show guests that we appreciate their business and support. We also have a need for speed, we owe it to our guests to be a QUICK service restaurant.

Native is accessible. We never want to come across as pretentious, but rather humble. We can’t always please 100% of our guests, but we want everybody to have an option to choose from and to feel comfortable with us. Our food and drinks are intended to be simple, using the best ingredients possible and preparing them with care.

Native is transparent and focused getting better each day. Our mantra is continuous improvement, making mistakes and learning from them. Feedback is appreciated, whether it be enthusiastic or constructive. The details matter! A good operation can turn quickly and we remain focused and determined to get better.

Native looks ahead to the long term. We will not sacrifice service or quality for short-term goals. We are building a foundation for something bigger.

A perfect beverage. Image credit: http://www.alexisthegreek.com A perfect beverage. Image credit: http://www.alexisthegreek.com

Learn more about Native Coffee + Kitchen by visiting their website, Instagram, and Facebook!

Have a question for our commercial team? We’d love to connect!

Find more Café Stories on our blog or on our social channels under the hashtag #SCG_CafeStories!

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