From L-R: Shawn Jennings, Pearl Nelson, Nick Dimengo and Gretchen Hackler before taking off for Governor’s Ball.
When we got word that we would be headed cross-country from our Seattle home as one of the backstage sponsors at The Governor’s Ball, the first thing we did was smile mightily—seriously.
That’s because, being such big music fans, we knew the lineup for the three-day, weekend-long event included some of our favorite bands, and getting the chance to hang with them and supply them with their much needed caffeine each day would be a great experience.
With headliners like Outkast, Jack White, Vampire Weekend and The Strokes, among others, there was no shortage of talent on the four different stages around Randall’s Island just outside of New York City.
With an early morning flight the day before the festival started, Shawn Jennings, Gretchen Hackler, Pearl Nelson and Nick Dimengo from Vita packed up their bags and tried to make it through the weekend—all in a city that never sleeps.
Here’s how it went down.
The Caffe Vita located on Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side, New York City.
Upon landing at the airport in New York, Pearl turned to Nick and said, “Hey Nick…we’re in New York City,” which promptly set the stage for the entire weekend, as the fearsome foursome were about to have a wild ride around one of the biggest cities in the world.
After getting settled in, the four immediately checked-out one of New York’s staples, Katz’s Delicatessen, which conveniently sat just a few blocks from both the Lower East Side Caffe Vita and the Hotel on Rivington, where a few of the guys were staying.
Getting to know each other a little bit better by trying to identify the celebrity pictures on the wall, Pearl even got noticed by two guests as being the former barista in the Los Angeles Caffe Vita, proving the impact that Vita has.
With a night to spare, the four jumped around to a number of different Lower East Side bars, meeting locals and dancing the night away before calling it a night due to an early wake-up call on Friday.
The New York Vita team, from L-R: Seny, Gair and Steven getting caffeinated up before Governor’s Ball.
Meeting the rest of their team for the weekend at the Caffe Vita Ludlow location, the crew adopted the two store managers—Seny and Gair—along with a different barista each day for the festival.
Loading up and making their way to The Governor’s Ball, the team quickly assembled the Vita booth, getting hounded by everyone from event workers to roadies to artists who not only wanted, but needed, some cold brew to help get their day started.
Walking around the venue and making sure Vita was well-represented —yes, that includes handing out stickers to nearly every vendor—the team chatted up as many different people as possible, making multiple runs back and forth to hand out cold brew as the weather increased in temperature.
Members of The Little Comets stopped by for some Vita coffee and swag following their set at Governor’s Ball.
When they weren’t running around catering to people’s request, the group was checking out bands like Little Comets—who loaded up on coffee after their set—Janelle Monae, The 1975, Julian Casablancas+The Voidz, Phoenix and TV on the Radio, who, at various times throughout the first day, rocked the stage and brought serious energy for the fans.
As great as the entire day had already been, the highlight of the night may have come when the team was loading out for the day, and Andre 3000 of Outkast was within 20 feet, with his security guards getting handed a couple bags of Caffe Del Sol.
With Day Two ahead of them, the team made their way back to the hotel and grabbed a much needed, decompressing dinner to recover and get ready for another long day.
The morning started with a bang, as a line was already forming as the team rolled into the venue, with word spreading fast that there was free coffee to be had.
Nick Dimengo talking with Jess Wolfe from the band Lucius in front of the Vita booth.
With artists like Lucius, PAPA, Hunter Hunted, The Internet and Fitz and the Tantrums stopping by the booth for coffee, the artists not only coming back multiple times for servings, but also talking in-depth about how coffee has a big impact on their musical careers, it was cool to meet with each.
Ironically enough, Fitz and the Tantrums drummer, John Wicks, talked about how he was a barista at the Queen Anne café one of the first years that Vita was founded, and how it has truly impacted him and his career thereafter. The connection even led to a impromptu interview with lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick and Wicks in their trailer, giving Vita an even more all-access view and leaving an huge impression with one of the bigger acts at the festival.
Nick Dimengo interviewing John Wicks and Michael Fitzpatrick, drummer and lead singer from Fitz and the Tantrums.
Additionally, Michael Garner, lead singer of Hunter Hunted, also talked about how the Silverlake location in L.A. is his usual spot to get coffee each day, which meant he and his bandmates hanged around the Vita booth telling us about how much they all loved it—which was super cool to hear.
Members of the band Hunter Hunted showing off their love for Caffe Vita backstage at Governor’s Ball.
The night concluded with Jack White taking—and rocking—the main stage, as the team ended their night giving away multiple hats, sweatshirts and tees for concertgoers and artists to rep.
After a few exhausting days, the team got a second wind and headed to the House of Vans party in Brooklyn for the night, getting treated to music from Angel Haze at the skatepark before stopping by our friends at The Meatball Shop for some drinks and a quick appetizing tease of their food.
The night concluded with James Brown-like dancing and singing “Happy Birthday” on the street with a bunch of strangers before the cab ride home.
Day Three picked up where Day Two ended, with everyone at the festival—artists, crew, vendors and security guards—knowing a few of the Vita team by name, with Vita even getting a chance to sweet-talk their way onto the main stage to take pictures and video.
Yes, this was amazing.
Watching Bleachers from onstage during their set at Governor’s Ball.
With the opportunity to be onstage, Vita was seen taking photos with bands during and immediately after some of the biggest acts of the festival, handing out coffee and swag to make sure they were taken care of.
Members of The Bloody Beetroots proudly showing some of their swag from the Vita booth at Governor’s Ball.
Artists like Bleachers, Half Moon Run, Banks, The Bloody Beetroots, Tyler, the Creator and J. Cole are just a few of the acts that performed on the final day of the festival, with a few of the members of AlunaGeorge even taking a few Vita shirts to wear during a future set.
Wrapping up the weekend, artists were hooked up with both cold brew during the event and bags of our coffee in their trailers, proving that Vita is rolling with the in-crowd.
Head chef and owner of Black Tree on the Lower East Side, SandyDee Hall in front of his restaurant.
Sunday night concluded with a few drinks and dinner at Black Tree restaurant on the Lower East Side, which, not only serves Vita coffee and uses our grounds in a variety of their dishes, but also has some of the finest, most creative dishes we’ve ever tasted. If you ever get a chance to stop in, say hello to head chef and owner, Sandy Dee Hall—he’s a good dude to chat with.
Two of the Madman Espresso guys, with owner Mayer Sabag on the left.
The Bronte Burger at Ruby’s Cafe in SOHO.
Monday morning brought an opportunity for the Vita team to meet a few of the restaurants that either serve Vita or use our coffee in their recipes, with the team stopping by MadMan Espresso in Manhattan first, followed by a trip to Ruby’s Café around the Soho area of town—with a little quick trip to Maxim Magazine’s offices in-between to drop off some coffee.
The Vita team posing in front of some Maxim Magazine covers at the publication’s office in Manhattan.
The night concluded back at, surprise, surprise, Black Tree, where Sandy whipped up both dishes and drinks to cater to us during the restaurants Happy Hour before we all went our separate ways for the night.
With limited time before the flight out Tuesday, we had a few more chances to chat with interesting people around the city or associated with Caffe Vita—like world-renowned pastry chef, Pichet Ong and the good guys at Baby’s All Right in the Willamsburg section of Brooklyn, where you can read the interview here.
Nick Dimengo interviewing Baby’s All Right Executive Chef, Ronald Murray, during the Vita crew’s trip to the Williamsburg restaurant.
After a few hours of running around the city, taking in some sights and getting a sense of how Vita is represented all the way across the country, we made our way to the airport to call it a trip, thankful for the opportunity to show what we’re made of in the city that never sleeps.
Cheers to Governor’s Ball and the city of New York, you may have worn us out and beat us to hell, but we had a great time trying to keep up—thank goodness we had coffee to do so.