April 19, 2011

Joyride: LEV BRIE

The Joyride enterprise has hit the mark by combining the three things that almost every New Yorker regularly seeks: caffeine, convenience, and guilt-free sweets. Lev Brie, the founder of Joyride, first brought these essentials to the streets via foodtruck, offering highly delicious Stumptown Coffee, organic frozen yogurt,  and...drumroll, please... the world's first caffeinated fro-yo, "Buzzed" (genius, no?). The truck also offers other innovative menu options, such as the “Jeffrey Paul,”  a decadent coffee and espresso combo made with Stumptown's Hairbender roast and Mariebelle chocolate. Joyride has some of the friendliest staff of any food truck we’ve ever seen, and it is thoroughly “green” by diesel truck standards, using the “quietest, most efficient generator on the market,” as well as ice coffee cups that are bio-degradable and made of corn. Raised in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Lev has moved around quite a bit, and is a man of academics and business--he studied undergrad at Stanford and Columbia, earned a Masters in France at 'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and started a PhD at the University of Chicago. After dabbling in tutoring and web design, Lev is now an owner of Endeavor Tutoring and Test Preparation, in addition to Joyride Trucks and its successful spinoff venture, Joyride Coffee Distributors. Joyride Coffee Distributors is the official supplier of Stumptown Coffee and is the first company to provide “third wave” coffee delivery at almost any location in NYC.

So, if walking to the truck at its daily locations to get your Buzz on is too strenuous, call 917.670.3314 to get Stumptown delivered to your office or next event. And don’t forget to nominate the Joyride truck for the Vendy Awards on streetvendor.org!

Where did you get the idea to start Joyride Trucks?
To be perfectly honest we just loved the coffee.  It was really that simple.  The truck, the fro-yo, all of that came later as part of our attempt to get Stumptown out there by any means necessary.  We figured what better way to get Stumptown to the people than driving around in a big beautiful truck serving it up all over the city?

How did it evolve into Joyride Coffee Distributors?
Owning a truck is hard work!  You're at the depot in Astoria at 5:30 in the morning and some nights, you don't finish cleaning and prepping until after midnight.  The first truck gave me hypertension.  A second would give me a coronary.  I love the truck, but with the response we got from it, we realized we had hit on something much bigger than even a fleet of trucks could handle.  Every day we get complaints that we are only available at each location one day a week.  Half of our customers tell us they want us to be at their office every day, and the other half want to hire us for catering somewhere else.  How do you remedy that without killing yourself through a combination of caffeine overdose and sleep deprivation?  By bringing the best coffee in the world straight to the office; and thankfully between the hours of 9am and 5pm.  And we’re in the midst of developing our catering arm to handle all our special events requests.

Will Joyride trucks still exist?
Oh yes. The truck isn't going anywhere...figuratively. We love the truck, and we have a dedicated staff of awesome baristas, who are really amazing at what they do, and we don’t ever want to stop bringing the goodness of Stumptown to the streets—we just want to take that goodness upstairs as well.  

What about the Buzzed fro-yo?
Buzzed has been on hiatus for the winter, but once the weather turns for good, it will be back with a vengeance.

Funniest reaction to caffeinated fro-yo:  
"Oh my god, yes. Oh my god. Oh my god.  Oh my god, where have you been?  Oh my god I am so happy right now.  Oh my god."

Your greatest accomplishment:
Um...have you seen my truck?  That thing is hot as shit!

Your daily responsibilities:
I wish. Every day is different: calling potential clients for Joyride Coffee Distributors, designing materials, dealing with suppliers, managing employees, working on our menu, perfecting my coffee brewing and pulling technique, emergency mitigation and management, occasional shifts on the truck. We are a small business and basically, on any given day, I could be doing anything from tinkering on the undercarriage of the truck, to giving an office tasting to a law firm in Manhattan, to coding a new part of our website, to tweeting about our latest batch of cold brew.  Sometimes I’m even forced to do some accounting.  In the beginning the sheer breadth of the job was overwhelming, but now I couldn't imagine it any other way.

Joyride’s greatest competitor:
A general willingness on the part of too many New Yorkers to happily drink brown piss from a paper cup.

Best part of your job:
The smile I get when they taste our coffee for the first time.  A close second are the Wednesday cuppings the whole office gets to go to at the Stumptown Roastery in Red Hook.

Filling our water tanks outdoors in Astoria at 5:30 in the morning in the middle of January.  In the snow.  After forgetting my gloves at home.  Imagine it’s 10 degrees out, you’ve just gotten completely soaked in ice-cold water, and when you start to move around you realize your pants are literally frozen – they crunch and crack every time you take a step.  Now imagine that moment is the very beginning of your day, and you’re about to go try to find and then squeeze into a parking spot in midtown Manhattan for your 21-foot behemoth of a truck.  But then you get there, pull yourself a perfect double shot of Stumptown’s Hairbender, steam and texturize a latté’s worth of whole, organic milk to glossy perfection, dip it right into the espresso so that you get that thick, uniform golden-oak-colored liquid, and suddenly it all goes away.

Describe your ideal coffee experience:
Hmm, I think that was it actually.

How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?
Anywhere between six and eight cups, not counting espresso.

Talent you’d most like to have:
Welding.  I wish I could make things out of metal.  Either that or yodeling.

Your greatest indulgence:
My motorcycle.

Three things you'd need on a dessert island:
1. My i-Phone and a solar charger.
2. A 118 WallyPower superyacht with onboard La Marzocco Strada espresso machine, Mazzer grinder, Fetco brewer and full bar of 20+ year old scotch, complete with a crew of four (Captain, Maid, Chef [Skilled in the French School with substantial experience in Japanese cuisine] and Personal Trainer).
3. Flint and steel.

What is the future for 3rd wave coffee delivery to offices?
New Yorkers are becoming increasingly coffee-conscious, and coffee is the sine qua non of at-work beverages. New Yorkers descend in droves on the city’s 2 dozen or so great coffee shops, and they take time out of work to do so.  3rd wave is the future of office coffee. We’re about to see a deluge of demand for great coffee at the office—coffees like Stumptown’s are orders of magnitude better than commodity-level coffee, and only pennies more expensive per cup.  It’s already that way in Portland, where most offices won’t even consider anything else.  I predict that in the next five years, New Yorkers are going to come to feel the same way.  The decision is just so simple it’s a no-brainer: fresher beans, better coffee, fairer business practices, less trash.  And it’s by far the most reasonable, most cost-effective way you will ever find to instantly and permanently boost employee morale.

Explain NYC’s relationship to coffee:
New York is the city of people who need to get shit done. We’re also a city of people who know how to love what they need.  We have about 37 hours of stuff to do on any given day and coffee is a tool we use to shoe-horn it all into that 24-hour period.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t love our coffee. The difference between a stale roast of deli coffee and a freshly brewed airpot of Stumptown is the difference between using a blunt cleaver and a hand-balanced Japanese chef's knife:  they will both cut a piece of meat, but one does it a lot better and is a pleasure to use.

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