www.qns.com I LIC COURIER I MARCH 2020 37
Partners Sum and Teoh were both born
and raised in Malaysia and met while in
college in Minnesota. Although they ob-tained
degrees in psychology and IT, they
decided to leave that behind and embark
on their own “coffee dreams.”
“We always wanted to do something
together,” Sum said. “We chose coffee
because we really liked the culture and
the people. So having a coffee shop and
meeting other people who come and drink
coffee every day, it’s a lot more relaxing
than working at a desk.”
Sum comes from a family of coffee work-ers,
which made her a coffee lover from a
young age. She was first a homebrewer, but
after attending coffee expos, she realized
that she could pursue her passion for coffee
professionally — so she enrolled in barista
school in Portland, Oregon. Sum is also an
SCA instructor and Q Grader, meaning she’s
trained in the rigorous practice of scoring
and identifying individual coffees.
Teoh, who lived in Queens for almost
nine years before moving to Brooklyn with
Sum, was also always a coffee drinker, but
got trained on the job and is a certified
SCA instructor. She recently discovered
her own passion in coffee: roasting.
“It’s so data-driven in that every single
thing that you do is affecting the nature
of the beans itself, and it gives me a lot
of story from the supply chain,” Teoh said.
They began Coffee Project NY in
2015, when they opened their first loca-tion
in the East Village, where they gained
recognition for their unique variations
of deconstructed lattes and pour-overs.
They then introduced another location in
Downtown Brooklyn, what they called a
“playground for baristas.”
Then, the opportunity to open up a loca-tion
in Long Island City presented itself.
It might seem odd to have a training
campus in what feels like an industrial
neighborhood, but Sum and Teoh think
it’s actually reminiscent of Portland
and the West Coast’s coffee training
school, making it the best place to
have their camp.
That, and it’s only a 15-minute train
ride to Manhattan.
“This third location is up and running
mainly because we want to focus on roast-ing
and career development, therefore the
training lab,” Teoh said.
They traveled often to Long Island City
and were familiar with the coffee scene
there, as they used to roast their beans
at the Regalia Roasting Collective. Other
than giving them the chance to have their
own roasting facility, the new space also
gave them a place to create their own
coffee education center.
Teoh said that when getting SCA certi-fied,
the nearest place to enroll in classes
for the certification was in Florida. “We
figured that is ridiculous, this is New
York and I have to fly to Florida to get
trained?” Teoh said.
Now, people who are looking to be-come
SCA certified or undergo those
classes can travel to LIC.
Sum and Teoh also want to bring
awareness to the different crises in the
“It’s a really fun process and we
hope that people can come and learn,
and actually see coffee as more than
just a cup of coffee that they drink …
that cup of coffee passes through so
many people before it even gets to
you,” Teoh said.
For more information and to keep up
with Coffee Project NY’s programming,