The Perfect Cup: Jack's Stir Brew Coffee
by jeffrey slonim
Coffee aficionados get their fix at Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee
|Jack Mazzola knows what makes a good cup of joe|
|Jack’s beans hail primarily from the Dominican Republic|
|The perfect pour|
When you walk into Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee on the square in Amagansett, as throngs of hip customers do, first-timers do a double take. Jack looks like movie star, and the store he designed like a movie set, with architectural details borrowed from a vintage boatyard.
If Jack’s Stir Brew, Organic Fairtrade Coffee and Food in Amagansett, has the right touch of nautical detritus, it is because Jack Mazzola, who at one time dealt modern furniture, knows how to serve up beachy charm. “To get the feel of the layout,” says Mazzola, “I lived in the store for seven weeks.” He sourced the vintage buoys, he mounted a monumental hunk of driftwood, and he found the organic juices and his aunt Rosie’s chocolate chip cookies.
A one-time actor, “What does a guy got to do to get a cup of coffee?” was Mazzola’s prescient line on Guiding Light. In between long stints of barely scraping by, Mazzola appeared occasionally on Diagnosis Murder. He quit acting “cold turkey” when he lost a part in Tears of the Sun (starring Bruce Willis). “I was at my wits’ end,” he says. “I needed stability.”
Coffee Is the Key
After much soul searching, darkroasted coffee presented itself. “Growing up in my traditional Italian family, my grandmother ended every meal with stove-top coffee,” he explains. In 2003, after spending time on a coffee farm in the Dominican Republic, Mazzola opened Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee in Manhattan’s West Village. Three months later, New York Magazine named his the best coffee in New York. He soon appeared on NBC’s Today. Meanwhile, Mazzola’s gorgeous girlfriend, designer Christina Lehr (Henry Lehr’s daughter), and her mother designed the hip boutique next door: Beach Stop by Henry Lehr.
At the original Jack’s, Mazzola befriended well-known regulars including Daniel Day-Lewis and Hilary Swank; here in Amagansett, Alec Baldwin has dropped by, as have Ed Burns and his brother Brian. Travel if you must, but according to Mazzola, you will rarely find better coffee. “I hated the coffee in Jamaica,” he says. “Even in Hawaii, it’s horrible. I went to live with a tribe along the Amazon, and I brought my own sock sack of coffee for the campfire.”
Mazzola’s beans primarily come from a farm in the Dominican Republic, although he sources from places like Sumatra, Mexico and Ethiopia as well. His company also has a relationship with a small boutique roasting facility in Vermont. “It’s a long and slow, dark, dark roast,” he says. (His iced coffee is cold-brewed using a machine he invented.) Mazzola’s third calling is photography. Some customers have liked his wall of nautical photos under Plexiglas so much they have commissioned similar displays. It seems he is, quite literally, a jack-of-all-trades. 146 Montauk Hwy., Amagansett, 267-5555
PHOTOGRAPHS ERIC STRIFFLER