Hot Coffee and Vintage Bikes
As part of our Flint and Tinder fall campaign, we headed east to profile inspiring people carving out new lives for themselves in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. Check out the other articles — musician Jonathon Linaberry of The Bones of J.R. Jones, Alex Wilson of Wayside Cider, and Sohail Zandi of Brushland Eating House — for stories that just might spark your own move into the mountains.
When you pull up to Mark Foster’s farmhouse in Bovina, New York, the first thing you notice is the hearty smell of FosterBuilt coffee roasting while plumes of rich smoke billow out of the drum. And the second thing you notice is an old barn-turned-workshop with vintage bicycles hanging from the ceiling (more than we could count), at least four motorcycles, and a few old cars for good measure. These rusty, old bikes are Mark’s pride and joy and, in a way, are what got him to where he is now.
“You have time to invent and dream and figure stuff out without hemorrhaging cash for rent on a place with huge overhead. You can mess up here, and it’s okay. You try again. There's breathing room.”
The story of Mark’s move up to the Catskills started years ago in New York City, where he worked in advertising and documentary films. He was always an avid cyclist and, as a side project, started outfitting old ‘30s and ‘40s bicycles for urban use — keeping the old frames and adding mountain bike wheels and suspension. He started calling them “FosterBuilt” and inevitably wound up building a brand around his custom bikes.
Weekend trips up to the Catskills to visit friends became more and more frequent, and, before long, he stumbled onto the farmhouse and barn that’s now his home and workshop. After packing up his city life and setting up shop in the new digs, he realized the local coffee scene was somewhat lacking, and, as the kind of guy who happens upon a problem and quickly builds a solution, he took the need for a solid cup of joe into his own hands and started roasting himself. Just like that, FosterBuilt bikes became FosterBuilt coffee.
Living in the Catskills provides time and space that Mark looks at as fuel for his creative endeavors, which he’s been able to parlay into careers. “You have time to invent and dream, and figure stuff out without hemorrhaging cash for rent on a place with huge overhead,” Mark says, “You can mess up here, and it’s okay. You try again. There’s breathing room.”
“Trust your gut and do what you love. Stay different and just go. That’s it, really.”
Now, on top of his coffee business, he's adding another gig to his roster as Brand Director for Bollinger Motors, makers of the first-ever all-electric SUV. And once you know Mark, adding this new role onto his fully loaded plate isn’t surprising at all. His story is one of hustle, dedication, and hard work. He’s also proving true the idea that if you keep doing what you love, it’ll sometimes turn itself into a career. “Trust your gut and do what you love,” Mark says. “Stay different and just go. That’s it, really.”
Follow Mark on Instagram @fosterbuiltcoffee.