A Chat with Gregory Zamfotis of Iconic New York Chain Gregorys CoffeeDaily Espresso Information by Roast Journal


Gregorys Espresso Founder Gregory Zamfotis outdoors the corporate’s first drive-through location, just lately opened in Paramus, New Jersey. Courtesy picture.

A couple of decade and a half in the past — when the idea of slowness in some manual-brew-loving specialty espresso circles was firmly related to superior high quality — a bespectacled New Yorker named Gregory Zamfotis was leaning full-throttle into one other idea for specialty altogether: velocity.

That effort has now led to legions of “Gregulars” visiting a whopping 38 Gregorys Coffee retailers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, together with a newly unveiled drive-through location in Paramus, NJ.

It’s been an extended journey since Zamfotis, together with the assistance of his New York meals enterprise father, launched with a single Gregorys Espresso location in Manhattan in 2006.

Zamfotis has arguably all the time existed on the reducing fringe of an inevitable development in specialty espresso — one which has develop into particularly obvious within the pandemic period — by the mixing of two distinct ideas: high quality and comfort.

Additionally, not like conventional fast-food or QSR fashions, which generally depend on extremely processed and infrequently unhealthy fare to maintain prices down, Gregorys Espresso has managed to construct its enterprise with an expanded lineup of health-conscious and vegan meals choices, whereas introducing methods like reducing out corn syrup by growing an in-house date syrup.


The brand new Gregorys Espresso location in Paramus. Courtesy picture.

Coffees, in the meantime, proceed to return from Gregorys’ roastery in Lengthy Island Metropolis, which launched with a classic Probat UG-22 alongside a larger-capacity Probat machine in 2016.

We just lately reached out to Zamfotis to debate the most recent goings on with the now-iconic New York espresso model.

[Editor’s note: Portions of this interview have been shortened or gently edited for style and clarity.]

Each day Espresso Information: You’ve lengthy talked about sustaining effectivity alongside high quality, which in an period of “specialty on the spot,” order-ahead apps, pandemic-proven drive-throughs, and many others. looks as if an excellent wager. In what key methods have your effectivity protocols within the retail retailers developed over time? How are you sustaining it at scale?

Gregory Zamfotis: Pace and effectivity are core to who we’re, so we’re continually evaluating our protocols to seek out the best way to enhance as we innovate. A key shift we made throughout covid was emigrate our bakery program from a centralized location to baking contemporary in every of our shops. We nonetheless make the merchandise from scratch ourselves, however now we bake contemporary all through the day in every cafe. This enables us to raised inventory our bakery case, and likewise improved high quality by eliminating any points throughout transportation. In the whole lot we do, we consider in difficult the established order. As we develop, we’re decided to enhance alongside the way in which.

Are you able to share how the menu design and store structure have an effect on effectivity?

These parts are essential to our success every single day. We thoughtfully curate our menu to incorporate distinctive and one-of-a-kind gadgets however all the time by the lens of creating certain we aren’t rolling in an merchandise that can disrupt our workflow in a cloth means. We hearken to our staff to ensure after we replace a menu, there may be buy-in from all the oldsters concerned.

Equally, our shops have to be specified by a method to permit for queuing in addition to making it simple for order forward choose up. As an increasing number of of our Gregulars are ordering forward, we wish to be certain they’ve a fast and simple path to assemble their order and get on their means. We don’t get issues proper the primary time, each time, however we shall be damned if we don’t be taught from our errors and get higher with every construct. 

Clearly, staffing and retention are enormous points amongst companies of all types lately. How are you managing that?

This begins and ends with tradition. We goal to construct a tradition of fact, belief and inclusion. We take into consideration our folks as folks, not baristas, and goal to see them for who they’re and assist make an incredible setting for them to succeed. We regularly onboard new staff members by phrase of mouth or suggestions from present employees members.

What are your present progress plans?

We just lately opened a real specialty espresso drive through in Paramus, NJ. We couldn’t be happier with the outcomes and have been getting improbable suggestions from of us who simply can’t consider they now have entry to high quality espresso and meals like ours at a drive through. We goal to open many extra drive through areas sooner or later as part of our strong progress plans!

In espresso, the place do you see the traces drawn between fast-food (QSR) and specialty espresso retail? The place are the distinctions between the 2?

There’s a lot to find out about true QSR. There’s a motive they’re so in style! Comfort, velocity, accessibility are all issues that QSRs do an exceptional job at. Typically specialty espresso can really feel unique and that may be a drawback we goal to unravel. Specialty espresso doesn’t must be gradual and costly, we see espresso otherwise. We make high quality that’s accessible. 

As an undergraduate pupil, you majored in finance with a minor in philosophy. How did you land on these two?

I genuinely thought I’d pursue a profession in banking upon matriculating at Boston College. With that in thoughts, a focus in finance was the way in which to go. Alongside the way in which, I actually loved finding out philosophy, significantly the ancients, and determined to spend extra time doing so. 

You adopted that up with regulation college. Was there one thing about regulation college that made you wish to go into espresso?

There was not a direct correlation between regulation college and low. As a substitute, it was a realization that I’d moderately pursue a ardour versus pursuing a job… I used to be able to practising regulation, I simply didn’t love what I used to be doing. I like creating issues with my fingers, interacting with folks and making connections. Espresso has given me the power to do all of these issues every single day for the final 16 years.

Clearly, the espresso business has some urgent social, financial and environmental sustainability challenges. Because the enterprise has grown, and thereby ostensibly touched extra provide chain actors, how have your views in direction of sustainability in your personal provide chain advanced?

With the C-price of espresso shifting a lot, it all the time begs the query, “How does this impression these at origin?” Macro financial elements can have an enormous impression on the livelihoods of so many within the espresso business… One instance of one thing we did in 2019, was signing a multiyear settlement to buy espresso from Fazenda Lagoa in Brazil. We dedicated to purchasing espresso from them for a very long time, it doesn’t matter what the C was doing, and it gave them consolation and predictability of their enterprise. We have been comfortable to do it as a result of not solely can we love their espresso, however we love them!

Lastly, listed here are the three questions: 

Three Questions with Gregory Zamfotis

What excites you most about espresso?

The long run! It’s thrilling to see how specialty espresso has continued to develop, and now with the proliferation of chilly espresso, there are various new doorways we will open. We use espresso as an ingredient in making nice drinks. Whenever you begin with high quality espresso you may actually construct on prime of it with fascinating and distinctive creations that folks love. 

What troubles you most about espresso?

The stress at origin to proceed to enhance and regulate with out the assure prospects can pay the premium they should make these adjustments. If there was extra transparency and widespread consciousness of those challenges it may go an extended method to eradicate many of those norms which may, at occasions, be a blemish on our superb business. 

What would you be doing if it weren’t for espresso?

That is actually arduous to think about since I really love what I do. Nonetheless, if I had to decide on I’d most likely be working in health. I’ve a deep ardour for wellness and taking good care of your physique.

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