5 Life (and Coffee) Rules from the Birch Guys
The bike-about-town duo seeks out to influence coffee culture and wellness, one pour over at a time.
Their names are Paul Schlader (left) and Jeremy Lyman (right), but they’re known colloquially as the Birch guys. The two have grown their New York-based coffee business deliberately, with an eye on well-being. When the weather’s nice, you’ll find them riding bikes from Manhattan across the Queensboro Bridge to their roasting facility and around the island to check on their shops. They’ll be adding the Lower East Side to their route—the newest outpost just opened in the Gehry building. They’re even flexing their storytelling muscles with their video series Stay Regular (recent guest: Chelsea Clinton). You'll always get a good cuppa, but just as importantly, core tenants have guided a flurry of expansion and new ways of thinking about corporate wellness have begun to change coffee shop culture.
On creating a creative space
JL: Our coffee shop is a place where people come to take a break from their day-to-day as well as a place to share their stories, ideas and visions if they so choose [case-in-point: no Wifi]. This is how the concept of Stay Regular was created. We talk about some of the latest projects that our regulars are working on and how the coffee shop culture works its way into their lives.
On dividing up the labor
JL: It lets us focus on our strengths and passions. It’s a relationship just like any other and for it to be successful, there must be constant communication.
On what they need to maintain balance
PS: Playing and hanging out with my kiddos. I am also a HUUUUGE [sic] hockey and soccer fan. Working out at Equinox and the occasional yoga session. Riding Citi Bike when the weather permits.
JL: Eating right, getting enough sleep and taking personal time. I’ve got a bike, which I love riding. I’m a big dog person so just hanging out with my two pits, taking advantage of our season tickets to the Islanders and writing. I love to write.
On having the baristas’ backs
PS: We understand the physical demands of the job, so we offer weekly massages at each location—our staff needs the occasional rubdown. We also provide gym memberships, yoga classes and a monthly stipend for activities.
On how they take their coffee
PS: Ah well, it’s going to change depending on the day! Sometimes hot, sometimes cold. At home, I use a French press or a Chemex.
JL: Black drip if it’s below freezing outside. Cold brew with a touch of cream all other days.