Coffee with Gabrielle Rubinstein from Joe Coffee

My first experience of Joe was on New Year’s day 2015 on the Upper West Side at 7 am. It still is one of the best barista conversations I have had till date considering I was really jet lagged, hung over from the night before and just plain new to the neighborhood. When I revisited the next morning I met some fabulous regulars who had become friends through coming to Joe regularly. I just knew I had to learn more about who was behind this concept!
What inspired you to start Joe and pick the first location?
It was actually my brother’s idea, but based on the fact that our family loved coffee and couldn’t find any good coffee in NYC at the time. I was Leaving a opera job and jumped in to start the first location with him. At the time, no landlords would lease to an unknown and untried concept. Only the one on Waverly (a family owned building) would. It happened to be in the historic west village and had a porch, but that was just happenstance.
How would you describe the brand in 5 words?
Friendly, warm, quality-driven, community, baristas.
What inspires you on a daily basis?
The baristas at Joe. They are everything to the brand. Each one of them has to represent the brand and me and my brother personally. The quality and level of hospitality they turn out every day is amazing. Thousands of people every day have a great cup of coffee and a smile at Joe.
What is your advice to those who want to start a new business in hospitality?
Hire well, pay well, don’t skimp on quality. Get used to using social media. We were latecomers to that. Also, know what your brand is about so you don’t have to figure it out later.
 How would you describe a typical day at Joe?
Mostly texting and walking from Joe to Joe and event to event. I manage the catering wing. We bring espresso setups and create pop ups. We do about 400 a year, so that’s busy. I’m writing this while I walk Through Union Square.
 If you were to expand to an international city which one would it be and why?
London, of course! Actually, I don’t know. Every city has its own coffee culture. We would really have to delve deep and know what we are getting into first.
What do you do to wind down?
 I like to read and listen to audio books lectures on history. I also like to hang out with my six-year-old daughter.
I start my day with a black coffee that I Chemex at home. Then I usually move onto an espresso,
hopefully single origin.   Sometimes I have a matcha latte as a chaser for the espresso.  By then I’m usually coffeed out.

More on Joe:

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