10 Minutes With Sam Penix

image-2

Sam Penix
Owner
Everyman Espresso
New York, NY

What other coffee jobs have you had?

The job I’m most proud of is Bingo Caller, which did include running instant coffees out to the elderly. However, we both know that’s not the coffee I serve today. I started my career, I didn’t know it was a career at the time, at Metro Coffee and Wine serving Counter Culture’s Espresso Toscano and Intelligentsia for filter brews, in Sarasota, Florida.

It's pretty obvious why Ryan Gosling calls Sam "Handsome."

It’s pretty obvious why Ryan Gosling calls Sam “Handsome.”

What’s your favorite part about working in coffee?

My favorite thing about working in coffee is the relationships we build with other coffee professionals. I have been won over by a remarkable connection and respect that we all have for one and other. There’s also a few times that my coffee family has saved my life. In 2010, my apartment burned down and Sprudge reached out to the global coffee community and raised enough money for me to re-establish a new life. Then again in May of 2013, when my Mom was in her final weeks of a long struggle with lung cancer, I raised funds through the coffee community for an emergency car rental, hotels near hospice, and funeral expenses. I had that precious time with my Mom burden free because of coffee people. We take care of our own and that’s real talk.

Sam supports his coffee family and his coffee family supports him. In this photo, Sam is with his dear friend, Erin McCarthy, just after Erin won the World Brewers Cup in Melbourne, Australia. Sam, along with Katie Carguilo, traveled to Melbourne last June to support Erin in his efforts.

Sam supports his coffee family and his coffee family supports him. In this photo, Sam is with his dear friend, Erin McCarthy, just after Erin won the World Brewers Cup in Melbourne, Australia. Sam, along with Katie Carguilo, traveled to Melbourne last June to support Erin in his efforts.

Where do you ideally see yourself in 10 years?

I see myself running Everyman Espresso and I imagine that by then we would have a few more shops or projects. I’m not interested in copying and pasting the typical coffee shop on every corner and I look forward to challenging myself with new models that elevate coffee beyond what we think it’s capable of.

Even though he didn't know that his friend and co-worker, Sam Lewontin, would make the United States Barista Championship finals the next day, during the SCAA in Boston in 2013, it sure looks like he did from this boss pic in his Boston hotel room.

Even though he didn’t know that his friend and co-worker, Sam Lewontin, would make the United States Barista Championship finals the next day, during the SCAA in Boston in 2013, it sure looks like he did from this boss pic in his hotel room.

Who and what inspires you?

My staff, my customers, and my community inspire me to get up earlier and work harder. I ask a lot from my staff. I ask them to learn more, work harder and faster than each day before. When I see Amanda Whitt and Corey Reilly practicing for the regional competition every night after their full day’s shift, it inspires me to be a better boss and make better coffee.

Sam with his dear other Sam (Lewontin) pause during a video shoot for Science Friday in Soho in May 2013.

Sam with his dear other Sam (Lewontin) pause during a video shoot for Science Friday in Soho in May 2013.

What are you drinking right now?

I have been drinking a lot of Counter Culture’s Mpemba, Burundi in the form of Espresso, as that was what Corey Reilly used in the Big Eastern Barista Competition to snag third place (in the Northeast Regional Barista Competition)! It’s incredibly sweet—like toasted brown sugar but balanced with a juicy, pineapple-like acidity and a subtle cinnamon finish. It’s a super slutty coffee.

After Erin won the World Brewers Cup, he and Sam traveled to New Zealand to check out the magical landscape, and the coffee scene, which is equally magical.

After Erin won the World Brewers Cup, he and Sam traveled to New Zealand to check out the magical landscape, and the coffee scene, which is equally magical.

Crazy coffee experience you’d like to share?

Ryan Gosling is a fairly regular customer when he is in town. He started calling me handsome for obvious reasons, but also because I have a large script tattoo that proclaims this fact across my neck. One day he leans over the counter while I’m pouring some glossy magical rosetta realness and whispers, “ Hey handsome, watching you make my latte is like watching a unicorn being born.” I said, “Thanks Ryan, that’s so gross.” Two weeks later I saw an interview he was doing for The Ides of March in which he proclaimed that working with George Clooney was like “watching a unicorn being born.” I guess I can look at it one of two ways, he says that to all the girls or watching me make a latte is like working on a movie with George Clooney. I think it’s more like watching a unicorn give birth to George Clooney.

Sam with his momma. With the help of the specialty coffee community, Sam was able to travel to be with his mom in her last days.

Sam with his momma. With the help of the specialty coffee community, Sam was able to travel to be with his mom in her last days.

What do you do when you’re not doing coffee?

I love watching and making movies. New York City has a lot of opportunities to see rare or old films on the silver screen. I spend a good amount of time hunting down those flicks at the IFC, Museum of the Moving Image, and various underground venues. I am also obsessed with the modern art and design of the late 50’s through the late 60’s so you might find me at the MOMA. I like getting drunk and talking about how freakishly delicious the cocktail menus are at various booze temples around town. I would hope you’ll run into me at a screening of Blue Velvet at the MOMA while I’m eating a pork bun and destroying a Sazerac with Rupaul

Sam bro-ing down in Melbourne after winning a brew down at Five Senses led by Paul Stack of Marco.

Sam bro-ing down in Melbourne after winning a brew down at Five Senses led by Paul Stack of Marco.

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.