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The Runaway American Dream of New Jersey’s Rook Coffee Roasters

In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream.
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines”

From “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

These lines may not be a perfect business analogy. (What are mansions of glory and suicide machines, anyway?) We mainly wanted an excuse to work in some Boss lyrics for a story about a small craft coffee empire that’s been steadily building in the heart of Springsteen country.

Rook Coffee Roasters just opened its fifth coffee bar in Monmouth County, N.J. — including the Northern stretch of the Jersey Shore — since opening four years ago. Co-founders Holly Migliaccio and Shawn Kingsley have been putting in plenty of sweat on this particular runaway American dream since walking away from their corporate jobs in 2010. At 1,000-plus square feet, the new bar in the heart of the Township of Wall is the company’s largest to date.

(related: Traveling to Costa Rica and Honduras with Rook Coffee Roasters (video)

Rook Coffee New Jersey shore

Inside the new Rook Coffee bar in Wall.

As with several of its other locations, Rook coordinated the design with Shore Point Architects in Ocean Grove, although Migliaccio maintains a heavy hand in the design, looking over touches such as custom woodwork at the counter front that carries over to the window sills, and poured concrete counter tops. In a recent intervier, Migliaccio told Daily Coffee News more about the look of the new store, which doesn’t have seating but includes 50 feet of standing bar space:

While the walls and ceiling are clean, crisp and neutral with a soft taupe tone, the floors are ground-down and sealed original concrete. Black metal beams that hold the structure in place are exposed in a couple of spots throughout the ceiling. We use explosion-proof industrial light fixtures, which each add an interesting burst of light that reflects like artwork off the sheetrock of our ceilings.

Rook’s menus have become similarly well defined throughout its stores. The espresso-free drink menu includes individual pour overs of Rook’s approximately nine available single-origin coffees, plus Turkish-style and New Orleans-style coffees. The cold brew — recently named by Maxim as one of America’s seven best — comes on tap, and the three-item cold menu consists of traditional, latte-style and New Orleans-style. Daily bagel shipments come from Bagel Oven in Red Bank, while Balthazar Bakery from Englewood provides some pastries.

The design, menu and sweat equity seem to be paying off for the Rook team, which also announced plans to open a sixth store, in Manalapan, later this year.

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