It wasn’t long ago when we decided to travel on a whim to the northern state of Illinois into the Windy City of Chicago with a few friends. The culture, architecture, and stories that we heard from our families and friends put the city near the top of our ‘places to visit’ list. We spent a weekend there in which we tried capturing all our moments through videography. See the full video below!
For this Sunday's Blog Post we shot a short film on a very interesting person who we can call a good friend. That person is Richie Roxas, though you may know him by his Instagram username, @newbalance365. Richie has been collecting New Balance sneakers (and other brands of sneakers) for 20+ years and has gathered quite an impressive collection of rarities and oddities. For our film we wanted to focus on some of the weirder sneakers, such as the "M's" - a sneaker designed to look like the New Balance 1300 that sports an "M" logo in the place that should have New Balance's "N" logo. We convinced ourselves that this unconventional approach to filming sneaker would be far more entertaining than just talking about the most expensive or the oldest pair in possession.
We also got the chance to graze the surfaces of two other big topics: Music and Movies! In our short film Richie goes on to talk about some of his favorite movies and the satisfaction that he gets from music. Get a chance to hang out with Richie!
Quality is to be expected when you visit Ox Coffee. Their service, atmosphere, coffee, interior design, and music all come together in unison to create this calm, light, and pleasant environment which is hard to find in our city. I didn't feel intimidated or uncomfortable when I wanted to ask about something, nor did I feel like an incompetent soul when I pronounced Gibraltar completely wrong. Will, Max, and the good team at Ox Coffee know exactly what they're doing, and they're doing it exceedingly well. A good future awaits them and we hope to see them grow so that more people can enjoy this satisfying experience. Thank you, Ox Coffee!
(Just a heads up too, there is no Wi-Fi at Ox Coffee. If you ever had plans to catch up with the interwebs there, you should dash to the closest garbage can and dispose of that idea as quickly as possible. This place is about enjoying the moment and the people around you. Be human. Socialize. Have a conversation with the person who just came in. Who knows, that could be your soulmate.)
Below you will find a short interview I had with co-owner, Will Gross, about what it was like to start Ox Coffee and what it means to produce quality coffee! Enjoy!
S: Starting something on your own that has meaning is mostly amazing, how did it feel to say: Hey, I’m going to start my own coffee shop here in Philadelphia? What was going through your mind at the time and has that changed?
W: It was an incredible feeling. When we first set out planning OX, the landscape of Philly's coffee scene was perfect for what we wanted to do. We found the right location, both relocated to Philly from NY and got the whole thing rolling. Being our very first project together there were certainly challenging moments, but every kink was worked out and we've been able to stay true to the vision we've had since the beginning. There is no question that we made the right choice by coming to Philly. The support of the community has been incredible for two years now and we look forward to the future.
S: Did you have a particular person that might have inspired you to get involved in coffee? Possibly a mentor or a family member that always drank coffee
W: I've always loved coffee, but working in coffee shops and as a coffee roaster is what really inspired me to explore my own path in coffee. Connecting with people in a shop setting, working alongside farmers and learning more about the process of coffee all contributed to this.
S: What does it mean to produce coffee of high standards? There’s a difference of taste I’m sure, though does it go beyond just that? Is it healthier compared to conventional coffee, or perhaps its more environmentally friendly to farm?
W: Coffee served at OX is scored on many levels. Our coffee supplier, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, only purchase coffees that score incredibly high. These coffees offer complex, sweet, clean and ultimately delicious qualities. By brewing these coffees correctly, our hope is to honestly communicate how beautiful these coffees are and do justice to the hard work that goes on from the farm level to the shop.
S: What is it about coffee that keeps you interested? / What’s your favorite thing about coffee?
W: Coffee is incredibly dynamic and from season to season flavors and cup profiles can change dramatically. These changes keep you on your toes and keep things incredibly interesting when it comes to preparing coffee. Whether it's coffee roasting in a roaster our it's espresso pouring through a porta filter, making adjustments is a huge part of the process and that keeps it very interesting to me. You're always trying to find that delicious sweet-spot.
S: What are all the steps involved to get to a cup of coffee to a customer?
W: At the farm level, coffee is planted, harvested, processed (typically) through 1 of 3 popular methods, bagged, shipped, roasted and then finally made into coffee beverages at the shop. It is an incredibly complex series of events and at any turn the process can get derailed.
S: I noticed a bunch of records when observing the front section of the shop. What music/bands have you guys been listening to recently? Any band that has really captured you and can’t stop listening to?
W: Jazz harp has been heavily played while i'm at the shop. We've got a couple of great records with Jazz Harp and it's been a really awesome vibe for the summer. We'll see what fall brings...
The experience of Shofuso Japanese House and Garden felt like an introduction to world unfamiliar and distant, though is located right here in our home of Philadelphia! We were welcomed by a calm and harmonious atmosphere that filled all of the air for a nice, warm welcome. The architect Junzo Yoshimura designed the housing using the style known as Shoin-zukuri that dates back to 16th century! Peering through the main living quarters, we noticed decorative sliding doors that were installed by Internationally-acclaimed ninon-ga painter, Hiroshi Senju, one of Japan’s most revered contemporary artists! Take a look at our trip below!
We had to finish the day off with a delicious bowl of ramen from the awesome Hiro Ramen, located at: 1102 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Saeed ordered the Hiro's Inch Of Heaven (Berkshire pork and homemade soy sauce broth, pork belly, egg, bean sprout, bamboo scallion and nori) and Sophorn went with the El Portofilio (named after everyone's favorite ramen master portfilio, premium chicken and berkshire broth, chili oil, pork belly, bean sprout, naruto, corn, lemon and crushed garlic and scallion).