Toby’s Estate Williamsburg

Intense coffee knowledge in a casual environment at a new cafe in Brooklyn

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The Third Wave Coffee movement is all about taking the bean and beverage to new levels of consideration, placing huge importance on sourcing, roasting and then brewing. As we could see on a tour of their soon-to-open Brooklyn location, Australian outfit Toby’s Estate Coffee seems to be fully on board, but founder Toby Smith is serious about keeping pure enjoyment at the forefront.

Smith’s laid-back attitude may feel slightly out of place in an industry cranking out caffeine-fueled drinks, but his casual approach allows customers to truly relax, and learn about the blend or bean origin. The teachers are professional baristas who might be pouring hot water into a ceramic double dripper from a Hario kettle, or pulling a carefully calibrated shot of espresso from one of only two La Marzocco Strada machines found stateside. Smith and head roaster Deaton Pigot aim to create a comfortable atmosphere, encouraging guests to remain at the bar and chat with the skilled barista while their drink of choice is being made.

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A man who originally got into the craft by roasting beans in his parents’ garage over a decade ago—and who subsequently offered tastings in their garden—Smith keeps this art form alive with a massive Probat roaster and cupping room (equipped with a La Marzocco GB/5) on-site. This is not only where serious consumers can take one of Toby Estate’s highly in-depth courses, but it also serves as a place where Pigot and the team can taste each batch for quality assurance and make adjustments to the roasting and brewing processes.

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Besides the extremely high-tech and relatively exclusive espresso machine, one of the other aspects that sets Toby’s Estate apart from other Williamsburg cafes is Smith’s fervent interest in sourcing the beans. Whether stalking small batches online until they’re up for auction, scouring the globe himself or keeping in close contact with his men on the ground in countries known for harvesting beans, Smith adamantly ensures that Toby Estate locations have some of the world’s most distinctive beans on tap.


Toby’s Estate marks a refreshing addition to the Williamsburg cafe scene with its enlightened staff and sun-drenched space, inviting customers to loosen up while learning about a complex beverage at the same time. The Brooklyn shop and roastery open to the public 9 January 2012, where you can expect an exciting menu of seasonal offerings to enjoy there or brew at home.