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Coffee Talk with Thom Gastelum of Kinfolk Studios

There are some New York coffee shops that you'll go to once and instantly feel like you're at home. It'll become your go-to place when you're in the neighborhood, filling the summer months with iced coffees and an escape from the heat. And if you're really lucky, that same space will double as a bar. 

And if you're really really lucky, that coffee shop-bar will become your third place, where you walk in and everybody knows your name (que Cheers theme song). 

Kinfolk Studios is one of those places, where you walk in and feel like you've been coming there for ages, even if it is only your first visit.

I sat down with Kinfolk's coffee director, Thom Gastelum, to chat coffee, design and tattoos. 

Name, Location, Occupation

Thom Gastelum; 90 Whythe Ave., Coffee Director, Kinfolk Studios

Tell us a little bit about Kinfolk. What’s it all about?

We’re a design studio first off. We design bike frames. We started in Tokyo, Japan. We started with a design studio upstairs, then built out the bar, got a liquor license, had a coffee program put in, and about a year after we opened we did a popup restaurant, did another popup restaurant, just to showcase a creative chef. Then they brought me on as a coffee director when the permanent restaurant came in. I went through a couple different coffee roasters and found one that’s amazing.

So Kinfolk—we just opened our retail shop next door—Kinfolk Store. We have a lounge bar that’s opening in the back. We’re opening up a bar in Downtown LA. So we’re expanding a lot pretty quickly.

When you’re not pouring coffee, you’re a tattoo artist. Tell us about this aspect of your life.

It goes hand-in-hand with coffee. I feel like especially in Brooklyn. Everyone that works in coffee has tattoos, beards…I think it’s pretty much the norm now. It’s accepted. I came to Williamsburg at the right time. I can do what I have a passion for, which is coffee, and what want to do and love to do for the rest of my life, which is tattooing.

[Editors note: check out Thom's work on his Instagram page, here!]

What are your simplest daily pleasures?

I’m starting to do a lot more painting. I would love to get more into the design aspect of Kinfolk—I love making the coffee, but eventually I want to do more creative stuff with Kinfolk. That’s where my passion is—oh, I love playing soccer. [laughs] I grew up playing soccer. I joined a league.

My brother lives here, so we hang out a lot. We walk around, drink a lot of coffee. Meet new friends, new people. And I think that’s what’s amazing about New York—having the ability to do that. I appreciate New York for that.

What’s your coffee order?

If they have a pour over option…I definitely order pour over. Woodnecks—it uses a cloth filter and you get this amazing silky, oily body. Woodnecks are my jam. Pour overs are definitely my go-to order.

How can we reach you for tattoo or design work?

The best way? Come to Kinfolk and hangout.

[Editors note: you can also find Thom on Instagram, or email thom[@]kinfolklife[.]com]

Thom Gastelum was photographed at Kinfolk Studios on April 1, 2014. 

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