Ed Cashin never drank coffee. Not until he found himself laid up in bed, recuperating from surgery in 2018 without a television to pass the time. Searching for some stimulation—beyond the green tea he drank exclusively for years—Ed’s attention was piqued by an article about coffee, starting from farm and exploring the processes of roasting and extraction. With his mornings already packed with fitness training (Ed and business partner Jim Kennedy own and operate Truth Training in East Hampton), working as a barista didn’t appeal to him. But the science of roasting, developing flavor profiles by adjusting time and temperature, piqued his interest.
Cashin Coffee Roasters, which opened its (garage) doors in 2020, sits a few paces from Fort Pond in Montauk, in between weathered supply warehouses and a freshly polished Ruschmeyer’s hotel and restaurant. The location is a perfect metaphor for Ed and Jim’s business philosophy: all are welcome, but it might not be for everyone. While many speciality coffee businesses set out to educate would-be customers on why their product is superior to the dark roasted arabica coffee beans so many of us are accustomed to, Cashin simply wants to make a good project their friends, neighbors, and out-of-towners can all enjoy. And if they don’t? Ed and Jim will happily recommend another spot for coffee.
It might seem like a strange business plan, giving the customer what they want by suggesting another business. But it’s also so perfectly Montauk. Less brusk than the list of dos and don’ts at the entrance of The Dock, but in line with the mentality that aiming to please everyone is a fool’s errand.
After reading that first article, Ed ordered green coffee beans and a stovetop roaster and started roasting. And while small roasters are fun, Ed notes there’s no real nuance to them. “You turn it on and you listen and you wait and you hope for the best.” They lack the magic (and control) of larger roasters, on which you can adjust the gas, air, and rate of rise. Ed turned back to his computer, this time taking online roasting courses that he put into practice while borrowing time with a friend’s roaster in Bridgehampton.
Already partners in training, Jim came aboard the experiment that’s now Cashin Coffee Roasters. The pair shared their early roasts with clients at the gym, getting feedback they could bring to a weeklong course at Mill City Roasters in Minneapolis. They spent seven days sampling coffees in the morning, roasting in the evenings, and learning the art of brewing coffee in between. Their new passion blossomed at just the right time: Ed and Jim returned from Minneapolis in January 2020, not knowing that in two months their training business would be brought to a halt by the Covid-19 pandemic and the roaster they just purchased would not just fill the gaps in their schedules but grow into a new business.
Still riding the high of coffee college, Ed and Jim obsessed over niche coffees, like a naturally processed Ugandan that tastes like strawberries. “Maybe we went too far down the rabbit hole and we’re trying to back off a bit,” admits Jim. But they also understand that most people just want a cup of coffee—“a vehicle for dairy and sugar”—and that’s okay. “We’ve found this rhythm, knowing what the majority of people like but still roasting smaller batches for ‘people that are interested in expanding their coffee palette.’”
With their focus on the coffee, Ed and Jim didn’t put too much weight on being a Montauk-based company. “We grew up here. My three kids go to school here. It’s Montauk. I don’t look at it as anything more than what it is.” But some of their retailers disagreed, knowing that there’s a wide net of locavores on the East End who take special pride in supporting local businesses, so they relented, adding “Roasted in Montauk” to their labels. Beyond those three words, Ed and Jim don’t want to put on a show to sell their coffee, which is available at local farmer’s markets, Amber Waves in Amagansett, Provisions in Water Mill, Simply Sublime in East Hampton and both Jeni’s Kitchen and Fort Pond Native Plants in Montauk. You can also enjoy their coffee in the Porter beer they helped create with Montauk Brewing Company.
For now, they’re focused on creating a welcoming environment, starting with their roastery. Whenever Ed or Jim is there, the garage door is always open to anyone who passes by. Locals and visitors are invited to hang out, ask questions, or grab a bag of Dawn Patrol, their crowd-pleasing blend and ode to Montauk’s surf culture.