The Value of Third Spaces
Carthaigh Coffee Caffeinates Community Action
Compiled by Jodi La Marco
Carthaigh Coffee in Stone Ridge does coffee differently. We spoke with owner Andrew McCarthy to find out what sets his business apart from the rest.
What made you want to open Carthaigh Coffee?
We unofficially opened on Memorial Day last year. I’ve been wanting to open up a coffee shop for seven or eight years now. I started by working at the Student Co-op that I helped coordinate and manage at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. I didn’t really know much about coffee when I began, but the cooperative model and the horizontal leadership was really powerful for me. There’s also the concept of a third space outside of personal and professional space. When we talk about how people lead their lives as dictated by capital, you’re either at work or you’re at home. I want a very intentionally space for common discourse where people come to engage with one another; I don’t want the café to just be a new kind of office. I want it to be attached to community interests.
What makes your business unique from other coffee shops?
My ingredients. I use higher quality products than most other places. The way my space is designed, the way my menu is designed, and the way I prepare my drinks reflects a strong commitment to quality over quantity and to precision over speed. I try to run it more like a bar; that’s why I say “espresso bar” and not “coffee shop.” I also believe in sustainability, resiliency, and local economy. I want to build worker-owned cooperatives.
What measures do you take in your business to support the local economy?
My retail goods are all sourced locally from the Hudson Valley. Even though my coffee isn’t explicitly local, it’s roasted in New York State. The vast majority of green coffee that’s imported into the United States — at least on the east coast — comes through warehouses in New York and Newark. When you’re looking at the carbon footprint, the difference between whether to roast coffee five miles away or seventy five miles away is less important when we’re in the Hudson Valley corridor. I want to use local roasters just to keep the money cycling in our community.
What other community efforts have you been involved with?
We’re really excited to be working with Rise Up Kingston in various capacities, including bringing coffee and treats to events like the Black Women’s March. As we do business in the region, we hope to develop our collective with the leadership of grassroots organizing. We hope not only to support their organizing efforts materially, but to resonate with and inform a model of equitable business growth and sustainability. We’ve also held a couple of fundraisers for various social justice causes like the J20 defense fund.
Why did you decide to start using and accepting Hudson Valley Currents? Why do you think it’s important to use a local currency here in the Hudson Valley?
I’ve been interested in local exchange systems since I first started studying permaculture 10 years ago. It seems like an appropriate tool in terms of shifting the power back to local communities. I’ve always been really intrigued in local currencies’ power to decentralize a lot of the forces of commerce. They’re not just replacing how we do business with a different dollar, they’re actually changing the interactions. So far, the people I’m exchanging Currents with are all people who offer local services.
Where do you spend the Currents that flow through your business?
There’s a couple of my customers who are service-oriented people in terms of professional healthcare; massage therapists, chiropractors, things like that. I exchange a little bit in that capacity. I’d like to work with our vendors to build the purchasing power to help get others to use Currents as well. When I pay people in Currents or use them myself, the money stays here in the community.