Getting to Know a Main Source of Montauk’s Morning Joe
Left Hand Coffee in Montauk has unique options—and a singular name as well—so Hamptons Monthly took a moment to get know more about its beans, its brews and why choose to identify as a southpaw from owner Yannis Papagiannis.
First, a question passersby have raised: why the name “Left Hand Coffee?”
Right Hand Coffee was already taken. Just joking.
Left-handed people were always considered outcasts in a world where words like normal, correct, and proper were and still are synonymous with being right or right-handed. Since it just happened that when we were opening the place the original crew happened to be left-handed, we thought it was a good omen to name it as such–sort of lifting the spell, if you will.
What’s the story behind Left Hand Coffee? Would you say this is born from a love of the brewed bean, or is it a strictly business venture, or maybe somewhere in between?
I would say it was a bit of both. Montauk had many things going on at the time, but a good cup of coffee was not of them. During my first summer as the food and beverage director at The Montauk Beach House, we developed an extensive coffee program there for our guests. But we immediately saw that a lot of non-hotel guests started coming in every morning to get coffee as well and they all had the same thing to say, which is that there was no place to get a decent espresso or a latte in town. When a location down the street became available, Larry Siedlick, who owns The Montauk Beach House, came to me and asked me if I wanted to partner up and open a proper coffee bar. He didn’t have to ask me twice.
What’s the background of the beans that you choose to use? Is there a particular one that you count on, or does LHC utilize a variety of beans from several places?
We primarily use our own blends, which are roasted in Queens according to our specifications until we launch our own roasting operation sometime in the next two years. We use a light roast blend (Lighthouse Blend) for our espresso and espresso-based beverages, and we o er two blends for our brewed coffee: a medium roast (Camp Hero Blend) and a dark roast called Sinister Blend. We also use a decaf blend (LightHouse Decaf). Our beans come from all over the world, from Ethiopia to Costa Rica, Guatemala and Colombia.
Montauk is a sunbathed, sandy spot. Are we best off ordering a cold brew?
Cold Brew is definitely a winner during the summer, but being a summer spot we have a diverse selection of drinks such as Iced Latte, Cappuccino Freddo (A Greek favorite), Iced Vietnamese Latte (with condensed milk), Iced Matcha Latte, and more.
Even a coffee lover will admit, sometimes we need a change of taste, but not so much that we skip on the buzz. What LHC drink would you recommend for someone looking for a twist on their morning joe?
If you’re like me and you like your coffee black and strong then I would say stick with it.
What I started doing lately is add a spoonful of concentrated coconut oil in my coffee in the morning, especially before I go for a run. It makes the coffee smoother and it is a great boost energy wise. If you have a preference for the more milky beverages, you should come in and try the Turmeric Latte; you will be coming back, I promise.
Your selection of teas are exotic to say the least, with ingredients seemingly sourced from around the globe. But the East End of Long Island has such a variety of agriculture. Do you ever find any locally grown items for use in your beverages?
I wish I had the same passion for tea as I do for coffee, but we did not want to be like most coffee bars that have three flavors of tea hidden somewhere in a cupboard. So we partnered up with the good people from Bellocq Tea in Brooklyn. Not only do they have amazing tea selections from around the world, their branding game is also on point, and branding is something we take very seriously.
Your baristas serve Montauk, from the surfers to the celebrities, the fisherman to the businessman, so let us in on a secret: which LHC drink is your best-kept secret? Is there something off-the-menu or rarely requested that we should know about?
We are working on some new recipes as we speak that will definitely blow people’s minds (and palates). We find that everyone has one drink that they really like, and it is usually very hard for them to change (morning coffee ritual). But if you are the matcha latte type, try it with some turmeric, cinnamon, and maple syrup. No espresso needed, but you will love it.
You have three types of coffee available for purchase: “Lighthouse,” “Camp Hero,” and “Sinister.” The first two have clear Montauk ties…but Sinister? What’s the story behind that name?
From Wikipedia: “The Latin adjective sinister means “left” as well as “unlucky.” and this double meaning survives in European derivatives of Latin, including the English word “sinister” (only when referring to the bearer’s left of a coat of arms).” Not very cheerful, but we thought it will make a good name for our dark blend.
You’ve expanded to a second location for the summer. Where do you see LHC going from here?
Yes, we are opening a second location near the Harbor area of Montauk to serve that part of town. I think NYC will be next, but we are planning on opening more locations in other cities in the next couple of years.