Kitchn's My Superpowered Morning shows you how smart, interesting people use their morning routine to help them fuel their days and get it all done.
Kerry Diamond's latest mission is fueled by coffee. When she's not publishing the most gorgeous food magazine and elevating voices of kick-ass women as the editorial director of Cherry Bombe, or hosting the Radio Cherry Bombe podcast, you can find Kerry at Smith Canteen, her Carroll Gardens coffee shop, where she's plotting and scheming to make it the greenest coffee spot in Brooklyn.
Think about the last weekday morning that you physically sat in your local coffee shop and took the time to drink it out of an actual mug. (Before a few weeks ago, when I sat with Kerry on a bench outside of the Canteen sipping iced coffee out of a Mason jar, I can't remember.) These days, Kerry is working to make that a daily occurrence.
By January 2019, Smith Canteen will no longer offer single-use plastic cups — an entire year before Starbucks plans to switch to (thicker) plastic sippy lids to avoid plastic straws in January 2020. It's called the Green Canteen Project, and if there's anyone who's up for the challenge it's Kerry.
I got the chance to chat with Kerry; we talked about her favorite Insta-bakers, America's disposable culture, and why she's not a big fan of routines.
What's the first thing you do when you wake up?
I usually wake up at 6:30 a.m. and the first thing I probably do is feed my cat, Dusty, because she's hollering her head off. Then I'll shower, listen to WNYC (that's always a big part of my morning), and, gosh, I've been trying to meditate more. After I get out of the shower, I set a timer for 10 minutes to do that. Then I run out of the door pretty quickly and head out to Smith Canteen.
Do you have a breakfast that starts your day off right?
I go straight to coffee!
Oh right, you own a coffee shop!
You know what, though? I alternate. I wouldn't say that I have a signature drink. When it's hot out, I'll do an iced cortado or an iced matcha, and I drink a fair amount of green tea. I don't have a lot of routine — I always sort of fight "Groundhog Day-ness" of life because I don't love doing the same thing all of the time, or routine. I would say that my mornings are never the same.
What's the best way to keep your morning relaxed?
Since we started the Green Canteen Project, I've been trying to not be so rushed in the mornings, so I can at least sit on the bench outside, have my coffee in an actual mug, and be a good role model in that respect. We are trying to encourage people to have more relaxed relationships with their coffee shops, instead of rushing in, grabbing your to-go cup, and rushing out. The idea is to hang out for a few minutes, drink your coffee, sit outside, and have an espresso, you know? Just linger even for a few minutes if you can.
Ultimately what we're trying to do with the Green Canteen Project is to cut down on disposable culture. A lot of it has to do with how crazed our lives are right now, so if you can take a few minutes I think it will go a long way toward making everyone feel a little saner — and help the environment in the long run.
Why did you decide to create the greenest coffee shop in Brooklyn?
I thought I had always been living a green lifestyle, but it really became apparent to me that I was not. And even when you think you're being super mindful, you have to stop and think about what you're doing. We weren't at the forefront of this. We had the discount, but we weren't doing anything to be better than your average coffee shop. And now that's not enough.
We want to be the greenest coffee shop in Brooklyn, and to be a model for the industry. You would think there would be a coffee shop in New York, but New York's go, go, go culture doesn't sustain that.
What's hardest: Publishing Cherry Bombe, running a coffee shop, writing a cookbook, or hosting a podcast?
The coffee shop is the hardest, by far. I think it's because it's dependent on so many things that you can't control — like the weather.
The Green Canteen Project is hard. I didn't think it would be easy, but when you look at the number of people who use the BYOCup discount, it's pretty low. To make this work, you have to change behavior, and people don't always want to change their behavior. It's an exciting challenge, but some days it's a little daunting.
How do you prioritize your to-do list?
I'm really bad at that. But Christine Barone, the CEO of True Food Kitchen, was on the podcast recently. I asked her how she stays organized and she said she doesn't let her to-do list get out of control. I'm somebody who will scribble like a hundred things on a to-do list and be frustrated that nothing got done, so I'm learning to be more selective and really think about the things that are absolute musts.
There's a great book out there that's been kind of helpful: Everything in Its Place by Dan Charnas. It's about using mise en place techniques to organize your life overall. I'm not the most organized person in the world, but it's a good place to start.
Your mission at Cherry Bombe is to elevate the voices of women, especially inspiring women in food. Who inspires you?
Definitely Ruth Rogers and Alice Waters. They are really leaders in trying to run food establishments that are also really humane, where people can be paid well and have a good quality of life, and that's definitely something that I aspire to. The restaurant industry isn't known for that. I really admire both of them for what they've built, how they conduct themselves, and how much they care about people and the planet.
What up-and-coming women in food should be on our radar right now?
Yes, so many great ones. I love Sophia Roe. She's sort of like an influencer, blogger, Instagrammer. Her whole thing is about wellness inside and out and I really appreciate her message and think she's amazing. Lauren Singer who does Trash Is for Tossers. She has a package-free shop in Williamsburg and has been a huge influence on the Green Canteen Project. I love Molly Yeh — her enthusiasm is a big inspiration. She's just such a positive person which I appreciate. I would say those three right now really inspire me.
What do you listen to in the mornings?
I listen to a lot of podcasts! I love the GOOP podcast, Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman, and Malcolm Gladwell's podcast, Revisionist History. My friend Laura Brown from InStyle has a podcast, The Role Models, which I love. I also listen to the Tim Ferriss Show.
Favorite alternative milk?
We make our own almond milk at Smith Canteen pretty much every day. I love that because I used to make my own almond milk at home, but it's kind of a pain in the neck when you're just one person. It's a lot of effort and it goes bad quickly.
What's your definition of healthy?
It means a lot of different things: physical health, mental health, financial health. If you can fire on all three of those cylinders, you're a pretty lucky person. But I'm realizing that it's not just about your physical health anymore — it's about wellness in all areas.
What do you always have in your fridge?
I always have eggs, cheese, butter, kimchi, Hellman's mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard. Oh, and Hawa Hassan's Basbaas sauce – they're these Somali sauces she came up with and they're great. I also always have my cold water ready to go for my Soda Stream.
Do you have a favorite food Instagram?
There are a lot of bakers that I love. Amanda Faber in Atlanta is a great baker. I follow Lani Halliday from Brutus Bakeshop, Wandering Whisk down in Florida. Sweet Laurel Bakery in California. I do love seeing what all the baker gals are up to across the country.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Time travel, both backwards and forwards. I would love the ability to pop up where ever and whenever on the planet.
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Interview has been edited for clarity.