SIX DEPOT ROASTERY & CAFÉ
SIX DEPOT ROASTERY & CAFÉ is owned and operated by Lisa Landry and Flavio Lichtenthal. LOCATION: 6 Depot St, West Stockbridge, MA 01266/ (413) 232-0205 http://sixdepot.com/
SIX DEPOT CAFE is the work of Lisa Landry and Flavio Lichtenthal, who've created a destination for coffee, community and art. It's all come together beautifully.
INTERVIEW: How did you become interested in coffee roasting and opening No. Six Depot Café in West Stockbridge? We'd been interested in starting a coffee roastery for years. We spent 10 years at Gould Farm and wanted to bring coffee roasting as a work program there, however, the farm didn't want to take it on at the time, so we started saving to do it ourselves which took years. When the train station in West Stockbridge came on the market, we knew we had found our home for coffee--a historic place (the purported oldest train station in the Berkshires) in a beautiful, charming "semi-discovered" town, and room in the station to grow and expand. At first, we thought we'd just do the roastery, but soon realized that it's in our blood to have a cafe open to the public. It's such a great way to create community and to get real time feedback on how people like our coffee and new roasts. We love creating spaces and took a lot of care in creating the space, working with Adam Medina on all things custom and handmade -- from the tables to the lights, shelves, counter, etc. And Flavio had been working in restaurants for years in NYC, and then at Gould Farm as Food Manager. Serving people, cooking, hospitality is part of who he is. Now we can't imagine roasting in isolation, without having the direct connection of our customers on a daily basis.
Our passion for coffee has gone back a long ways. Flavio, living in Buenos Aires, used to skip school in middle school and go to the pool halls where they served espresso and men would talk politics and soccer and that was the beginning of his fascination. As for me, when living in Rome and working for the news, coffee was essential to us all, and I fell in love with the culture of espresso bars--zinc counters, clinking cups, baristas in ties, lever-pulled espressos and the jostling and closeness of it all. We both wanted to replicate this. We also have had a chance to travel for coffee -- separately and together -- from Africa, to Brazil to India to Central America -- and loved the places and communities where coffee is grown. Flavio started roasting at home and with other roasters around the country and we were hooked. We also love the history of coffee and how it has played an integral role in community, in art, in literature, in politics and, yes, in revolutions. (See book recommendation below). We also like that it's affordable and provides a home away from home for a short while for people -- and love the concept of the penny universities in England. We see all these things entertwined.
Your sons are in their teens. What's your favorite place to go in the Berkshires as a family? Where's the family's favorite place to travel outside of the Berkshires? We have two boys: Paolo, 15 and Sebastian, 17.We love to go to Allium for the burger and other fare together. We frequent the bar area at Rouge as it's always so lively and friendly. Prairie Whale is a favorite spot. SoCo for ice-cream… As the kids get older, they get busier so we don't do as many things together as we used to, but hiking is always a favorite; beach time (we lived at Lake Garfield when we lived in Monterey at Gould Farm); skiing, anything out doors. We love to travel but it's been harder to do since opening the cafe. We've had great trips together to France, to Turkey, to Central America, Argentina to visit Flavio's family. We love Montreal and Mexico as getaways too. Sebastian is taking a gap year next year to travel and work his way around the world, and we would like to meet him on his travels in either Europe or Australia. Maybe Bali to check out the coffee! We have a small place in Montauk in Long Island and try to get there as much as we can for quick getaways. We love it any time of year.
You've had several live music events at the Café. Can you describe some of the most popular? We had a BSO crossover band that was super-popular and a very memorable event. We had an improv hip-hop series that was pretty incredible with so many talented musicians of all ages. We had Quiet in the Head that was one of our favorites and had a packed room perfectly silent. We've had artists on tour from around the country and some wonderful bands from Brooklyn, like Anna/Kate, that also created one of the most special evenings. Paul deJong, formerly from The Books, had such an amazing concert there too with a room packed on a Sunday afternoon. Too many to mention as I'm leaving so many great ones out.
What's the most memorable event at the café so far? Will you be doing more events, similar to that? There have been a lot. But a couple: Indonesia night (organized by Iin Cox) which featured live Indonesian dancers in costume from NY, food for 100 people, an original film screening, the consul general from NYC, and a room filled with mostly Indonesians. There was Sabine Vollmer von Falken's artist reception for her tango photographs with tango demonstration and dancing-- all so beautiful, lively and sexy. There was Courtney Maum's book launch followed by the World Cup Final that had people tiered on step ladders outside to see through the windows for lack of room inside, Argentine flags waving, German face paint and such a great, passionate vibe. There was a pre-Valentine's soiree that included popups from many local vendors with oyster bar, ice cream bar, chocolate bar, Bra & Girl lingerie and a live lingerie fashion show.
One can only imagine how busy you must get at your coffee stand at Tanglewood in Lenox. What's the favorite choice of coffee? And, what are people saying? I think our cold brew is by far the favorite. Flavio makes a special blend of single-origin coffees that are very low in acidity and super rich. We "brew" the coffee in cold water for 18 hours and what results is a super rich, full bodied cold coffee. It is entirely different from iced coffee, and we've had such great feedback on it. This summer, in addition to the cafe at Tanglewood, we'll have a cold brew tricycle cart on the Tanglewood lawn right by the main entrance. It should be a lot of fun!
No. Six Depot Café has become extremely popular since you opened only a short time ago. What do you think is the draw for most people, and how are they finding out about the Café? We're not sure. We hope it's that we put out a great, honest product, provide an open and inspiring place for people to meet, and that we are friendly and welcoming. We truly love what we do and the people that come in--our lives our immeasurably richer as a result. We don't advertise as we just can't afford to right now. Lisa uses social media and a bi-monthly newsletter to let people know what's going on. Having events has done a lot to help bring new people into the space. We are so lucky to have the gallery space to showcase new art every six weeks, and host many events -- ranging from film series, to live music, theater, dance parties (from tango to club music), educational classes and lectures, cultural events. We've been lucky to have artists from all over the world, and partner with BIFF, WAM Theatre, Berkshire Playwrights Lab, musicians from Tanglewood, etc. to bring events to West Stockbridge. This has really helped in getting new people to find out about us and also to create a real community gathering place for our neighbors. The fact that we do wholesale also helps to draw people to the cafe as we tend to get people who have had our coffee elsewhere, loved it, and want to come to see us.
You're open for events in the evening sometimes for dinner or music. Will that grow? Our events keep getting more varied. We get approached by so many people with amazing ideas that it's hard to say no. They take a lot of energy to pull off, but we love them. We've had everything from live Indonesian dancers, to a huge tango dance party, to play readings of Ovid accompanied by classic friezes, to a lingerie fashion show, to poetry open mic and book launches, fundraisers, etc.. As for music, we go from classical, to klezmer to improv hip hop to gypsy to experimental. Varied, they are. We love both "high" and "low" art.
We tend to have most of our events in the Fall, Winter and early Spring--when people are looking for things to do and we really serve a purpose. Summer is such a busy time in the Berkshires and there are so many other things for people to do, we tend to go light on our events.
How did you and Flavio meet, and when did the family move to the Berkshires? On June 5th, Flavio and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Crazy! it was in the Berkshires that we decided to get married (while on a hike that turned into getting stuck in the woods overnight) and had our wedding party here as well. We always loved the Berkshires. We met in NYC in a restaurant. I had just moved back from Rome and took a job in a restaurant that Flavio was advising on. During the dry run evening, food wasn't coming out of the kitchen, so we ended up talking the whole night and we both knew that this was "it." We never looked back. We moved to the Berkshires in 2002 for many reasons. The biggest was that our oldest son had terrible asthma and the mama-bear in me came out and I just knew we had to leave and fast. We left with nothing -- no jobs or security -- but it was the best thing. After a month here, he was off all medication and has had no asthma since. He's an athlete now and is graduating high school next week. I am originally from MA and we had a history in the Berkshires but we never knew it was going to be as good to us as it has been. We're very grateful to be part of this community and to have brought up our children here. Living at Gould Farm for so many years was really special to us.
What's most popular at breakfast? Do you do your own baking?
People come from all around for our eggs and bacon. The eggs are cooked in a particular way, slightly crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and spritzed with sherry wine vinegar at the end. The bacon is thick cut and has somewhat of a cult following. The bread is Berkshire Mountain Bakery and a perfect compliment. We do all our own baking, and have many other offerings -- from waffles with fresh fruit, to Berle Farm yogurt and home made granola. Both of those are really popular too. Flavio and I went to Turkey a few years ago and loved the healthy breakfasts of tomato, cucumber, white cheese, hard-boiled egg, olives and bread. We call it Breakfast Antalya and we'll bring it back this summer again!
What sandwiches are most popular at the Café? How did the recipes originate? Flavio is from Argentina and I lived in Rome for years. We are both influenced by the food and the culture of these two places. Our porchetta sandwich is a classic "fast-slow food" recipe. Other sandwiches, like our Hosta Hill, are influenced by great local growers and producers. We didn't want to compete with the deli sandwiches offered at the Corner Market, so thought we would do more slow-roasted meats and chicken sandwiches, and more specialty offerings.
One rarely sees people behind a laptop at Six Depot - the mood is always engaging and lively. Why do you think that is? I'm not sure. We don't judge it though. During the week, we get more people who really enjoy the gallery as a quiet space to work, or to have a quiet meeting. The cafe is loud and bustling with music, grinders, espresso machines, and roasters all cranking; but the gallery is a quiet oasis during the week and we don't play music in that room. People love it to work and we don't mind that. In fact, we're happy to provide a place where people can get out of their houses. The weekends tend to see bigger groups and more people eating in the gallery and not a lot of laptops:).
Do you have a favorite book or magazine on coffee? On cooking?
We have so many books on coffee, it's hard to pick just one. We're fascinated with the history of coffee--it is long, rich, varied, thrilling. Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergrast is a good one to learn about the history. Truly, it's fascinating.
As for cooking, we don't use many recipe books, but I just love Alana Chernila's book, The Homemade Pantry. She's a good friend, a truly beautiful writer, and just makes me feel empowered that I can make my own ricotta cheese!
We've heard from the staff that people come from all over the region to have coffee at the Café. Is this all word-of-mouth? I think word of mouth is the best form of advertising and the highest compliment. As said, we'd like to advertise, but we just can't afford it as a growing business, and so are very grateful for word of mouth.
And now, ice cream! Starting mid-June, Six Depot is opening an ice cream, milkshake and smoothie window in the front of the train station. They'll be doing SoCo Creamery classics like Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry and 3 kinds of Coffee ice-cream using Six Depot coffee. They'll also be doing classic milkshakes (shot of espresso optional) and smoothies. Open Thurs-Sun 12pm-7pm.
And, SoCo is launching a new line of "single origin coffee ice creams" with Six Depot coffee, so you can get Bali Blue Moon coffee ice cream, Heart of Darkness coffee ice cream (Brazil Cerrado Oberon), or Notes from the Underground espresso ice cream. They all taste remarkably different and are amazing.