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Caffe Vita Went to NYC’s Governor’s Ball

| June 17, 2014

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.


Caffe Vita (Somehow) Survived the 2014 Sasquatch Music Festival

| May 30, 2014

The Caffe Vita team. From L-R: (Shawn Jennings, Nick Dimengo, Ross Beamish, Erin Bednarz, Wendy, Max McLoughlin, Pearl Nelson).

We’d be lying if we said there weren’t some serious perks about working at Caffe Vita.

Sure, getting free coffee every morning, working at a prime location in the heart of Capitol Hill and having people ask us about the lifestyle that Vita has is great and all, but it’s even better when we get a chance to share that with thousands of strangers who quickly become our best friends for a few days.

And, for any of those who saw us or visited the Vita tent at Sasquatch! Music Festival last weekend, you know we did just that.

Since we like to be one with the people, seven Vita employees from different departments packed up two vans, bought over $800 worth of food, set up three pop-up tents and handed out hundreds of cups of cold brew and Georgetown Brewing Company’s beer for those in the general admission camping area.

What happened next? As you’d probably imagine, absolute madness—which is why we’re letting you relive it all right here.


The Vita tent and campsite prior to the madness.

After making the three-hour trip from Seattle to The Gorge Amphitheater, we did our best to claim as much space as possible in order to have the most bitchin’ spot for fans to visit.

Thankfully, event security didn’t notice us throwing some serious elbows to fight for the little extra feet to make sure we could accommodate those stopping by over the course of the weekend.

Setting things up, our Vita camp got right to the cold brew and Georgetown beer, playing various games of cornhole against other campers and blasting music to get the attention of those around us.


A classic photobomb from Vita’s Ross Beamish on some Caffe Vita fans.

Of course, it didn’t take long for people to notice where the party was going to be all weekend, as the crew instantly met our neighbors, handing out a few hats and stickers as a thank you for letting us do our thing—so major props to Tyler and Shaun for their kindness.

The first night consisted of a fairly low-key, hang session which included some tunes and team building amongst us Vita folks. Let’s face it, music festivals are marathons and not sprints, so we were just pacing ourselves for the main event.


From L-R: (Vita’s Erin Bednarz and Ross Beamish cooking breakfast, the finished product and Wendy chowing on the grub).

Waking up Friday morning, Vita training supervisor Ross Beamish made our team and visitors to the tent breakfast, blasting music to get their attention and instantly seeing one cold brew keg disappear in less than an hour.

Quickly realizing we had to pace ourselves with the generosity of cold brew, we decided that pulling a 9-12 schedule for coffee was the way to go, but still focused on hanging out and getting to know people as they stopped by the tent, handing out stickers and snapping a few stranger selfies with them in order to make them famous—all for a Vita hat.

When it came time to head into the festival, the Vita crew found themselves at the main, Sasquatch stage, rocking out to Crystal Fighters as they brought the energy to the crowd.

It was still early in the event—with some people not even arriving at that point—and the place was completely flooded with fans dancing and singing the lyrics. If we thought differently before that point, we all knew it was going to be a good weekend after that.


From L-R: (De La Soul’s Pos, Monk Wordsmith of The Physics and De La Soul’s tour manager showing their love for Caffe Vita).

As we split from one another, a few of us stayed to watch old school hip-hop clan, De La Soul, on the main stage, even getting the chance to sneak backstage to meet the band—who proudly showed-off how much they like us, too—while a few others went to see Night Beats on the smaller Narwahl stage.

Over the course of the day, Vita was well-represented at Cage the Elephant, Chance the Rapper, Phantogram, Raz Simone, Yelle and, of course, Outkast.

To say that the duo of Andre 3000 and Big Boi put on one of the most memorable performances of the festival would be an understatement.

Blending some of their classic songs together with a few of their own solo hits, the two showed everyone why they headlined the first night—because they know how to fucking perform.

The night concluded with 20-30 people marching back to the Vita tent for the first of many afterparties, where guests took photos with Vita, drank beer and rocked out with, well, you know.


A group of festivalgoers enjoy cold brew and shade in the Vita tent.

Running on just a few hours of sleep, Vita quickly found out that guests really wanted some coffee, with a few even stopping by the tent before the 9a start time for serving.

With all of us fighting some grogginess, we served up coffee and engaged with those who stopped by for the few hours before realizing we needed to, again, save some coffee for the remaining days.


Benjamin Verdoes of the band Iska Dhaaf performs a solo set in the Vita tent during Saturday afternoon.

Having some time to kill, Vita arranged a special, private performance by Benjamin Verdoes of the group Iska Dhaaf, who had played the day prior at the festival.

Bringing his personal sound to the tent, 10-15 fans laid back and let Verdoes serenade them with his lyrics and soft tunes.

With more than a few bands on the slate that Vita wanted to see, we marched into the festival to bands like The Growlers—who, yes, we tried to give a growler to—Violent Femmes, Band of Skulls, The Grizzled Mighty, Panda Bear and M.I.A.


From L-R: (De La Soul’s Maseo holding his Vita coffee, Vita’s Nick Dimengo with The Grizzled Mighty lead singer, Ryan Granger, Blake Anderson of the TV show “Workoholics” seems to like Vita’s sticker and Dimengo with singer Shelby Earl).

Each performance had extraordinary moments, with a few of them standing out more than others as the best of the weekend.

Finishing the night by seeing Tyler, the Creator, Vita—and other campers—were anxious to get back to the tent and blow it out with another afterparty.

No joke, the second we all got back to the tent, sweatshirts were changed into and sleeping bags were pulled over our heads, because we were all beat to shit from the previous two days and nights.

Miraculously, after a smoked salmon dinner by Ross, we thankfully all got a second wind, as more guests stopped by the tent to take part in the best party of the weekend.


A late-night party got a bit out of hand, as this photo of fans wearing Vita bean bags shows.

Cutting up coffee bean bags, Vita made it a priority for everyone who stopped by to slip one on for pictures, creating a pseudo photo booth for fans to pose for in front of our black and white sheet.

Looking around, it looked as if we were all at a Halloween party of people wearing the exact same outfit, drinking beer and talking about some of our favorite performances from the weekend to that point.

Vita’s own Pearl Nelson got on the mic and rapped for fans to dance to, with insanity ensuing until passed 4a—even after security came over and told us to keep it quiet once before.

As difficult as it was to wake up Saturday, the coffee gods were with us Sunday morning, as Vita pushed through the hangovers and lack of sleep to get some caffeine in them from cold brew to serve.


Caffe Vita’s Queen Anne barista, Sean serves the cold brew to a line of people at the Vita tent.

With a line forming as we were organizing things, guests happily talked about the night prior—which ended just a few hours earlier—as well as posing for pictures and hanging out with our crew for a few hours.

After some time to steady ourselves, we made our way to performances by Shelby Earl, Lucius, Cold War Kids, comedian Demetri Martin—which included a personal escort from backstage security after sneaking back—Banks, Rodriguez, Fly Moon Royalty, Kid Cudi, Parquet Courts, Portugal. The Man, Queens of the Stone Age and closing act, Major Lazer—who a few Vita folks were able to meet backstage and hand some coffee to.


The wild women of Lucius pose next to their favorite bag of Vita coffee.

Yes, you read that correctly, as hungover and completely low-functioning as all of us were, we found a way to make it to all of those shows.

With the word out that our fiestas from previous nights were better than a college house party, it went down till the wee hours the last night.

Going from 15 people to 25. Then from 25 to 40. And, finally, 40 to about 50, the Vita tent was overflowed with people who wanted to dance their asses off and send the festival out in good fashion.


A few visitors going wild in front of the Vita sign at the tent.

That all seemed to change when security came the first time…and then the second time…and, finally, the third time, while refusing to ever shut the party down except for a reminder to keep the music down.

With a few Vita fans feeling like family at this point in the weekend, a handful of friends stayed in the tent and hung out until 5:30a, with the sun providing the necessary light to see each other’s faces and keep us awake—which was probably a bad idea.


Caffe Vita—Last. Van. Standing.

A few hours after finally calling it a night, the Vita crew packed things up, gave out a few hugs and high-fives and, somehow, made the trek back to Seattle.

12 hours of sleep in four days, using the front seat of a van as a bed and then getting stuck in a three-hour traffic jam might not sound like a great weekend to some. But those are people who didn’t come to Sasquatch with Vita, because it was fucking killer as we definitely left our mark for all the festival to see and hear.

To see even more craziness from the #VitaSasquatch trip, check out our Tagboard which features TONS of content—and make sure to tag yourself and us if you have some to add.