The Boston-area coffee company Triangle Coffee is sprouting from one to three unique carts this summer.
Founded in late 2013 by Ottavio Siani and Ben Schmerler, the Triangle Coffee business opened its first custom-built coffee cart at the Brooklyn Boulders indoor climbing gym in Somerville, Mass., catering to the athletes and adventurers there. As of this week, Triangle is now pouring Chemex batch brew and pulling La Marzocco GS3 shots on the mezzanine of Boston City Hall, and a third location at the Innovation and Design Building in Boston’s Seaport District will be up and running in just a few weeks.
At all three locations, service consists of espresso drinks made on GS3s and a constant flow of Chemex pourover brew transferred into insulated carafes, served or refreshed within 30 minutes. Local pastries come from the Allston, Mass.-based Swissbakers bakery, supplemented by some in-house offerings such as Triangle’s own healthy cereal blend. The coffee at Brooklyn Boulders is roasted by Blue Bottle, whereas the just-opened City Hall and the forthcoming Innovation and Design carts both serve fresh roasts from Boston’s own Gracenote Coffee Roasters.
While Siani enjoys the outstanding quality of Blue Bottle and will continue to serve it at the Brooklyn Boulder cart, he told Daily Coffee News that the size and flexibility of Gracenote Coffee makes it an exciting partner in collaborative sourcing. “I used to work for a company called Root Capital, which loans money to coffee producers all around the world,” Siani told Daily Coffee News. “My introduction to the coffee industry was on the producing side, and I would love to be able to draw on those connections for what Triangle is doing. But obviously if I were to approach Blue Bottle and say, ‘Hey, I know this great producer, would you be interested in their coffee?’ Blue Bottle has its own thing going on. We’re far too small for them to do a project like that with us.” Gracenote, meanwhile, being a smaller, Boston-based roaster, is more accessible to Triangle and better able to pursue collaborative sourcing projects.
Each Triangle Coffee location is custom-built by and for Triangle, with the intent of conveying a certain clean, modern motif with warm, wood tones. Yet each is also distinct from the others and meshes intentionally with its host environs.
Similarly, the menu remains consistent from cart to cart with the exception of at least one location-based specialty. The Brooklyn Boulders special, a cold chocolate milk plus a shot of espresso, is called the Red Point, a name that derives from sport-climbing terminology. The City Hall special is called the Larry Bird, an espresso mixed with exactly 33 grams of cold sweetened condensed milk, in honor of the 12-time NBA All-star forward that wore number 33 for the Boston Celtics in the 1980s. The Innovation and Design special has yet to be determined.
Siani told Daily Coffee News that while the company would be excited to tackle the challenge of designing an entire brick and mortar location, they don’t intend to pursue that step until business has naturally grown to a point where it seems necessary. For now, the three carts are more than enough to keep them busy, and the individual nature of each is part of what sets Triangle apart.
“We’re adaptive,” said Siani. “We’re able to, and we seek to set up small coffee shops in spaces where you might not expect to have one. The mezzanine at City Hall is a perfect example of that, as is Brooklyn Boulders. At the Innovation and Design Center, we’re going to start coffee there in the next couple weeks outside on the promenade, which was not initially designed to have a café but because we’re able to build all the systems that we need into a mobile coffee bar, we’re able to do it. It allows us to operate in spaces that are unique.”
The in-house cart construction and design work coupled with the architecturally adventurous nature of their two new locations might lead one to assume that the Triangle in their name is a nod to geometry, design, and architecture. Meanwhile, with their City Hall cart located just at the top of the building’s brightly rainbow-colored Stairs of Fabulousness, one might also wonder if the marquee is a pink one, in support of the LGBT community. The answer is no, or at least not specifically, on both counts. Siani told Daily Coffee News that while he does have a longstanding passion for architecture and design, and the company certainly does support gay rights across the board without hesitation, the triangles of Triangle Coffee are actually reminiscent and symbolic only of the coffee-growing mountains of Indonesia, where the company’s founders first shared their inspiration to start the business.