Astoria, Astoria Arrivals, Coffee
Mar 30, 2018

Mighty Oak Roasters Is Coming to Astoria

Wood roasted coffee is coming to Astoria.

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We recently received an email from one of our favorite tipsters with this intriguing paragraph about a new roaster and café coming to Astoria, Mighty Oak Roasters:

“This is the brain-child of Sean Donnelly which is one of the brains and behind-the-scenes wizards of the Sparrow Film Fest, in partnership with local comedian & script writer and occasional Sparrow Bartender Peter Moses. Early versions of this roasted coffee distributed under the name “Donnelly Industries” has been available for some time at Sparrow Tavern as well as sold at local craft fairs such as the Sweet Afton Market. Is it fair to say that this is the first place that wood oven roasts their own coffee?? This could be a game changer.”

We had to learn more, so I reached out to Sean and Peter to get more details. Here’s what we learned from them.

A Little Background

First, I asked them what was up with the name—why they are calling their business “Mighty Oak Roasters”? Apparently, it was inspired by their use of locally sourced hardwood they use for roasting their coffee, in contrast to the more common gas-powered roasters. Sean has been roasting for several years as a hobby, supplying coffee to friends and family. Peter added, “Also, there is a magnificent oak tree near where Sean grew up in Westchester. Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans might also catch the reference in our name.”

I also asked them about coffee itself—what is it about coffee that drew them to it? “I’ve been drinking coffee most of my life, but I’ve really begun to enjoy it in a new way since I began roasting,” explains Sean. “There’s something fascinating about the blend of art and science that goes into developing a curve and extracting the full potential of the coffee.” Peter, on the other hand, didn’t start drinking coffee until his 20s. “When I did drink coffee,” says Peter, “it was generally deli coffee with more milk and sugar than coffee. My tastes and love of coffee grew to the point where I started brewing 5-gallon batches of cold brew in my apartment.”

What To Expect

As for what they’ll offer as far as coffee goes at Mighty Oak Roasters, look for a full menu of espresso-based drinks, filter coffee, cold brew, as well as an assortment of high quality teas. And seltzer fans, get excited: they’ll also offer a wide variety of seltzer (“We’re really into seltzer!”), and our own specialty beverages, details to come. Along with regular dairy milk, they also plan to have multiple nondairy milk options, including Oatley and nut-based milks.

On the food side of things, they’ll offer a menu of sweet and savory pastries from a select list of local bakers. Gluten-free options will be available, too. “One of our core team members has celiac, so obviously there will be an emphasis on high quality gluten-free offerings.” says Sean.

As wood roasting is not very common, they are excited to share the process with their customers and have chosen to work in a cafe setting to give everyone a chance to see the process from start to finish—and taste the results. No doubt this will be fascinating and educations. Speaking of education, they also plan to host public cuppings and other education events, as well.

Cafe Space and More

We were also curious to know about the design of the space. “Sean will be making much of our furniture, so it will have a different look for the neighborhood (and also feel more like a home!),” explains Peter. “The style will be influenced by the 1920s, which was the last time wood roasted coffee was common in NY. In our case, we’re going for an art deco/Craftsman style (you can also see this influence in our branding). We want to create an inviting place to meet up during the day with a relaxed vibe.”

I also asked them how they will compete in an area that already has a lot to offer re: coffee. “The big differentiator from other cafes is that we are roasting our own beans and doing it in a unique way,” responded Sean and Peter. “Beyond the cafe, customers can pick up bags of freshly roasted coffee to brew at home, and we will also provide a high quality locally produced offering for wholesale customers including cafes and restaurants.”

They are excited to move into this corner space that has been empty for nearly a year, formerly home to La Vita Mia pizzeria. The Mighty Oak team has lived in the area for many years and has observed the desire and demand for high quality coffee increase over the years. They believe the time is right for them and hope to be open in July (though they do recognize that there is much to do before then in getting everything built and set up in the space).

They left us with this final thought: “We’ve all been a part of the neighborhood for a long time, and have volunteered with local organizations over the years. We are excited for the new way we are contributing to the community that’s been our home and family.”

Well congratulations, Mighty Oak Roasters! We look forward to tasting wood-roasted coffee and checking out the café later this summer.

Mighty Oak Roasters, 28-01 24th Ave, Astoria
mightyoakroasters.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

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