Empire Coffee Company / Waterfront Roasters is a family owned and operated four-generation old business which consists of fathers and sons who are passionate about coffee. At the turn of the 20th century Leo Richter could be found on the streets of Manhattan selling fresh roasted coffee from the back of his horse-drawn wagon. Leo’s son Howard would build upon his father’s success and begin roasting, grinding and packaging his own brand of coffee. Howard brought his son Robert (Bob) into the family business throughout the 1960’s and 70’s. Bob and his business partner Steve Dunefsky would go on to create Empire Coffee Co. in 1984 just outside of Manhattan.
Their mission was to support the growing private label coffee business, and supply only the best, fresh roasted coffees to distributors throughout the New York Metropolitan area. As their reputation grew so did the business, and in 1996 Empire Coffee Co. moved to their current facility in Port Chester, NY where they continue to roast, grind and package superior coffees for dozens of the largest coffee distributors and private label brands throughout the country. Empire Coffee Co. roasts approximately 4 million pounds of coffee each year and is one of the largest private label coffee roasters in the NY Metro Area. In 2004 Bob and Steve launched Waterfront Roasters, a gourmet coffee division that provides select single origin, blended, and flavored coffees directly to retail and wholesale customers. In 2012 Jason Richter, a fourth generation coffee man joined his father Bob in the family business. As a true coffeephile, Jason’s goal is to grow and bring Empire and Waterfront into new markets with an eye
Today, the topic of coffee is just as scrutinized as food – from the sourcing and quality of the beans to the roasting and flavor profiles, and ultimately, the accessibility. The reputation of the final product is a song and dance that continues to play out between producers and end users who are passionate about their coffee. The story begins with the planting, harvesting, dry and wet processing, and then the hulling, polishing, grading and sorting of the beans (fruit) before exporting. Roasting transforms green coffee and is what develops the flavor and aroma. The proper grind is crucial to getting the most flavors out of a brewed cup of coffee. The tasting process involves “cupping”, basically getting a good nose full of the aroma, and then “slurping”, adding air to the sip of coffee, which assists in blanketing the taste buds. This is effective in analyzing the inherent characteristics, flaws and the positive attributes of the coffee. Now, imagine what a century’s worth of experience has on the art of producing coffee.