Quoted by Plato once—and by everyone on the Internet a million times over—Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus once said, “The only constant is change.” Other translations of his ancient text have included that “everything flows and nothing stays” and “all is flux, nothing stays still.”
Although roastmaster and Flux Coffee owner Arsalan Pourmand kind of stumbled upon the name (“It sounded cool and the website wasn’t taken—done!”), it couldn’t be a better fit for this new and much-needed concept in Farmingdale’s village. Here, coffee flows and doesn’t stay; a rotating menu of small-batch, single-origin beans come and go each week. It’s all a flux with specials that don’t sit still; anything from matcha or chili-infused hot honey lattes, cascara tea, Erwin Bogart—a mocktail-like refresher of espresso, tonic, muddled orange peel and orange garnish served over ice—might appear or disappear at any given time.
However, there is at least one thing that stays constantly: quality.
You see it in every little detail in this understatedly sophisticated shop—not least the coffee. Custom-crafted tables made by Pourmand himself (“About the most use of my architectural design education I’ve gotten,” he says with a rueful smile), outfitted ingeniously with beautiful curved piping and topped with good advice written out in tile (“Enjoy Flux Coffee”); warm, soothing Edison bulbs suspended gently overhead; and glistening subway tile accented by straw-gold wood make downtown F-dale feel more like Billyburg, Brooklyn—with breathing room.
When this much thought goes into where you sit, you can only imagine how much goes into what you sip.
Trained in the art of roasting in California, Plainview-raised Pourmand is picky about what he serves. Single-farm beans are lightly roasted to his exacting instructions, from temperature to time. “Minute details are what create nuances in the roast,” he explains. “During my apprenticeship, I spent a lot of time learning what tiny changes can do to flavor profiles. I put that into practice when creating the formulas for every batch of beans we bring into the shop.”
He’s also particular about how he serves it, treating coffee making as a science. Traditional drinkware designed expressly for certain beverages are the only sizes available. Timers, scales and beaker-reminiscent Chemex pour-over coffee makers line up like soldiers behind the glass-shielded counter.
“I see every new batch as an experiment,” he says softly, his calm energy at odds with the caffeine he plies. “We calibrate the grinders throughout the day to make sure everything brews the right way. Environment affects taste; for example, humidity levels changes how the coffee gets brewed, so we adjust.”
This precision-based approach carries through to every single shot. “Not only do we weigh the amount of ground coffee we use for each drink, we also weigh the espresso while brewing.”
This meticulous process with brewed-to-order cups results in drinks that extract subtle tasting notes that can turn tea drinkers into coffee converts and persuade latte-lovers to cross over to the simply-dark side.
How? Well, Pourmand approaches his coffee selection as a winemaker would. Flux’s selections tend to rotate between sweet, fruity, floral or “unusual.” For instance, a Balinese pour-over offering blueberries and kiwi undertones and a chocolate finish; we thought this rather tasted like the memory of coffee with the fascinating mouthfeel of tea. The Costa Rican started with deep pomegranate and ended more lightly with a hint of cacao nibs and had a richer, more velvety body. The week’s Mexican coffee is more familiar—nutty and bold. But no matter the variety, “our coffee doesn’t have that harsh bitterness,” he says proudly. Meant to be drunk unaltered, Pourmand advises, “give it a sip first, before adding milk and sugar. Many find you don’t even need to!”
With so much care put into the regular coffee, it’s no surprise that even having espresso—Flux’s signature—is a tasting experience.
“The seltzer is your bookend,” Pourmand explained as he laid out a rustic wooden board. “A little bit of orange peel helps it cleanse your palate so you can really taste the espresso. You then drink the espresso halfway through, and eat the orange slice, which will alter the way you taste the rest of it. The seltzer refreshes your palate again when you’re done.”
As with all the espresso drinks, double-shots are the standard, and all are served at their traditional sizes to ensure proper ratios. The only ways the team veers off-canon is in the Gibraltar—a West Coast cortado: equal parts milk and espresso—and in offering oat or macadamia milk as dairy substitutes, the winners out of a rigorous 20-milk test for flavor, texture and ability to stand up to pretty latte art.
“We do a lot of experimentation to make sure everything is as good as it can be,” Pourmand grins. This includes making their own vanilla syrup from bean paste and mocha ganache in-house—a topping excellent on their expanding waffle menu.
Why waffles? This is perhaps the only question process-driven Pourmand has an easy answer for.
“Because they’re delicious!” he laughs.
With high quality being the main constant at Flux Coffee, we certainly can’t argue with that reasoning.