The Story of Liquid Assets (Crooked Lake) Coffee

by | Dec 7, 2023

by Atsushi Akera
29 November 2023

We offer really selective, single origin dark roast coffees roasted locally by Liquid Assets Coffee Roasters in Averill Park. Liquid Assets was founded by Fred Cashmere, I believe, during the mid 1990s. Located then across from the Crooked Lake House in Sand Lake, NY, Fred retrofitted an old garage and outbuilding to become a demonstration roasting room and coffee shop. I had just started a job at RPI, and was working on my first book manuscript, spending hours in one of the seats by the front window. I got to know Fred and his approach to coffee while spending weeks on end at his cafe.

I used to refer to Fred’s coffee as the best coffee East of the Mississippi. During the 1980s and 90s Starbucks became big, building on a cafe culture that took hold amidst the heady affluence of the 1980s. That’s when young, upwardly mobile professionals–”yuppies” as they were called–started paying $3 bucks for a latte without batting an eye. There was also indy cafe culture that took hold alongside Starbucks’ popularity, and custom roasters across the country started producing specialty roasts based on supporting the tastes of discriminating coffee enthusiasts.

A latte with floral latte art in dusted cinnamon.
A latte with floral latte art in dusted cinnamon.

Fred specialized in roasting really dark beans. As Chris (Christine) Kuehn–who apprenticed under Fred since he was 16–would tell you, Fred would say that you “had to be brave, really brave,” in roasting each batch of beans right to the edge of their being burnt. He would say, in his reserved and mildly eclectic way, that if you backed off at all from taking the beans as far as they were supposed to go, that the flavor profile would be different, reducing the distinctiveness of the beans that were Liquid Assets Coffee.

There’s a story here as well. Fred used to complain about having a hard time getting a good night’s sleep. I had wondered why he had such difficulty sleeping, given that he seemed to work all the time on his roasters. But then one day, I saw the big waft of smoke emerging from the roaster the moment he opened the roasting chamber as the roasting cycle was finished, and yup, you guessed it, volatilized caffein spewed out all across the room. Dark roasts are known to have a little less caffeine than light roasts for a reason!

Multiple plastic bags of dark roast coffee beans are laying on a wooden bench,
Multiple plastic bags of dark roast coffee beans are laying on a wooden bench,

Coffee was a passion for Fred. I hesitate to tell this story, but think it’s the right thing to do. Fred delivered the first batch of coffee to Cafe Euphoria in late January of 2022, before we were officially open. In 2005, I had moved out to Grafton, NY, and Fred had meanwhile moved his shop out to Dunham Hollow further out on Route 43. As a result, I began stopping by less often, and eventually lost touch with him. When I decided to open Cafe Euphoria, I reached out to Fred to ask him, “are you still roasting your coffees?” Fred enthusiastically replied that he was so happy to hear that we were opening a cafe, and that he’d be honored if we carried his beans. I didn’t realize at the time that Fred was battling with cancer. He passed away within weeks of his visit.

Chris, who apprenticed under Fred, took over his roasting business. While she has her own shop, Gipfel Coffee, out in Sand Lake–they just recently moved to a new location at the corner of NY Route 66 and 43–she continues to roast the beans under the Liquid Assets label.

In reality, Liquid Assets offers beans in multiple roasts, Full City, Viennese, French, Italian, and Turkish, going from lightest to darkest. Even the Full City roast would be considered a darker medium roast, but it has a flavor profile that includes some of the flavor range of the lighter roasts that are currently popular. We continue to offer dark roast coffees to complement the great coffees you can find at Jacob Alejandro, Little Peck’s, Alias, and other shops in town, and to support all those who grew up loving “Seattle Style” coffee in the 80s and 90s. We’ll usually have a pot of French Roast and Full City roast going. We do also sell the beans by the pound, but will leave such details to another post. Today, I just wanted to share this story about Fred, and the beans that we carry.

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