When Arsalan Pourmand, an aspiring architect, turned his San Francisco-based cold-brew company into a specialty coffee shop based in Farmingdale, New York, last February, he had barely $70 in his bank account. Eleven months later, the urban-industrial shop’s transformative atmosphere attracts a loyal and diverse customer base.
Flux is a five-minute drive from SUNY Farmingdale’s campus, but its location rarely reflects its customer base.
On a busy Sunday afternoon, Matina Douzenis, a 26-year-old Plainview resident, was approaching her fourth hour tucked away in a corner finishing up work on her laptop. A piece of artwork by a Brooklyn-based artist, Caleb Freese, hung above the outlet she had plugged her charger into, the wires tangled in a series of pipes that made up the table’s legs.
“Recently I’ve been coming in every other day,” Douzenis said, sipping a chai with oat milk out of the shop’s signature blue mug showcasing the company logo in white paint. “I typically spend a lot of time at Starbucks, so it was a nice surprise when this opened.”
Douzenis has been a regular since the store’s opening and is one of the few Farmingdale students who frequents the cafe.
“When I was in school in Buffalo, we had places like this and students wouldn’t go,” Douzenis said. “People just like the comfort of being on campus because of easy accessibility.”
Furthermore, Flux Barista Ivana Toic believes the shop’s high prices are a deal-breaker for most students.
“As an 18-, 20-year-old dorming, you don’t have much money,” Toic said. “It would be hard to want to come unless you’re getting a regular cup of Mexican coffee.”
When Toic is not at work crafting her regularly Instagrammed lattes, the 26-year-old is studying human biology at Stony Brook University. Her journey as a barista began in a Starbucks six months before she met Pourmand.
“I started coming in February and met Arsalan,” Toic said. “He’s a social butterfly and talks to all his customers. He sat down with my girlfriend and me at the time and sparked up an entire conversation. Ever since then, we became friends, and I started coming here for my coffee. Then when I wanted to leave Starbucks, he asked if I wanted to work here.”
Toic, who grew to be an avid coffee lover, proudly labels Flux as one of the very few places on the island serving quality coffee — the only comparison, she says, is Southdown in Huntington.
Robert Pawlowski, a 26-year-old Hicksville resident who calls Yelp his bible and comes in a couple of times a month for Flux’s signature cold brew, thinks otherwise.
“I like Jencle Brew in Long Beach better, but it’s too far,” Pawlowski said while seated on a couch facing the storefront and reading a magazine.
Flux also offers “hip and fancy” donuts, receiving shipments from New York City every morning. Pourmand switched over from Dough to Underwest Donuts after receiving negative feedback and inconsistencies with Dough’s services, including a photo captioned “old/stale” by Mala L, an elite Yelper.
Customers like Douzenis and Carlos Mercado, a 49-year-old who works in the area, say that they enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, but they would also like to see a wider variety of food offered.
Despite this, Pourmand takes the most pride in his coffee and is intent on living up to the meaning of “flux,” which is continuous change.
“There’s always ongoing coffee research, so as soon as we learn how to enhance our coffee, we adapt to give you the best cup of coffee possible,” he said.