Penstock Coffee Roasters: Highland Park, Now Offering Groceries

Over the last several weeks, small businesses and large corporations alike have had to stay ahead of the curve to survive. Consumers have seen deep discounts, promotions, and even creative DIY kits like build-your-own pizza boxes from pizzerias. Just as quickly as the economy’s landscape rapidly evolved, Penstock Coffee Roasters in Highland Park, NJ, best known for their nationally award-winning coffees and devotion to direct sourcing practices, became a grocery store for their community virtually overnight.


In early March, the coffee shop had launched their new food program called Penstock Kitchen to serve food in line with their practice to source and serve beans as closely from the farmer to cup as possible. Then in mid-March, owners Ben and Jessica Schellack realized the developing challenges around COVID-19 not only as business owners but also as parents. The two most immediately felt challenges were that their staff team were relying on the coffee shop for wages and that reliable access to healthy and fresh foods for families were quickly becoming limited.


They then considered what resources they had available, one of which was their recently established relationships with additional distributors who would provide ingredients that were local, organic, and heirloom for Penstock Kitchen. Families everywhere already had freezers that were stocked to the brim, but having healthy, fresh produce on hand meant either making endangered trips to the grocery store where inventory was never guaranteed or fighting to sign up for a slot for deliveries from grocery
companies like Peapod and Instacart.

On March 21, Penstock Coffee announced the launch of their grocery program, Penstock Grocery, a CSA-style subscription. Along with it was a letter they sent out online where they explained that they
were making available to the community the same local, organic, and sustainable ingredients that the shop had available to them. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, which is a subscription-like program to purchase locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables. Similarly, with Penstock Grocery, customers pay one-time up front and continue to receive groceries every week until the end of September, either by pickup or delivery within 10 minutes of their shop. “Veggie Essentials”, which started it all, is available in three sizes: small, medium and large. For folks who are looking for a one-time grocery order, Penstock will fulfill a limited quantity each week. In addition to fruits and veggies, the shop
offers fridge and pantry essentials such as toilet paper, fruit, grains, milk, eggs and more. In order to receive groceries by Friday, customers must place their order by Wednesday at 12 PM through their website www.penstockcoffee.com/grocery.


The baristas adapted from full-time coffee making and cafe service to sorting, bagging, and delivering groceries. Furthermore, to help provide even more relief for the community, Penstock Coffee began a sponsorship program in which customers can send masks, coffee, and treats to Saint Peters Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. Baristas with sewing experience are given paid hours to sew handmade masks using guidelines released by Saint Peters Health. The masks will be worn by healthcare professionals on top of N95 and surgical masks to help preserve them during the current global shortage of PPE.


The baristas adapted from full-time coffee making and cafe service to sorting, bagging, and delivering groceries. Furthermore, to help provide even more relief for the community, Penstock Coffee began a sponsorship program in which customers can send masks, coffee, and treats to Saint Peters Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. Baristas with sewing experience are given paid hours to sew handmade masks using guidelines released by Saint Peters Health. The masks will be worn by healthcare professionals on top of N95 and surgical masks to help preserve them during the current global shortage of PPE.

Though there are certainly many difficulties and tragedies with the outbreak of the coronavirus, Penstock Coffee Roasters is wanting to inspire other restaurants and cafes to be innovative, hopeful, and resolute as a pillar for their local communities.

Anyone looking to sign up for Penstock Grocery can visit www.penstockcoffee.com/grocery. To sponsor Penstock in providing Saint Peters Hospital with needed masks or delicious coffee and treats, visit www.penstockcoffee.com/shop-gifts. To contact Penstock with questions or inquiries, email info@penstockcoffee.com.

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