Since Sydney Taylor returned to her hometown from New York City to oversee Methodical Coffee’s food program a little over a year ago, the company has expanded to three locations in Greenville. These days, Sydney can be found at Methodical’s newest space at The Commons. For the millennial Culinary Institute of America–trained chef, it’s a big undertaking to oversee three shops—from cooking and menu planning to budgeting and buying—but one she takes in stride. “Honestly, it’s just been fun to roll with all the punches,” the chef says with a smile. It’s clear that Sydney handles any challenges with grace, as she reflects on her menu of delightful café fare.

How has your role evolved, now that you’re responsible for three separate locations of Methodical? “We have a bigger space now [at The Commons], and we have a bigger staff. That has its own pros and cons. Now I have to take an overarching look at things, and ask, ‘How does the food we bring to each shop affect Methodical?’ We try to create that same experience in all of the locations, but [also consider] how we differentiatethis place.”

How does The Commons shop differ from Methodical’s other two locations? “We try to keep the pastry menu the same across the board . . . but [at The Commons] we’re trying to hone in on that identity as a café because I think that’s something really valuable in Greenville—a place where you can sit down with a cup of coffee and a piece of quiche and a salad. [The Commons is the only Methodical location that serves lunch.] I think that has a different vibe than another lunch.”

You only had a year and a half of experience under your belt when you took this job. What have been your biggest challenges? “Definitely learning how to be a leader and a teacher. I’ve always liked guiding and teaching people, but when it’s your food and your vision and you’re trying to pass it on to people, I realized I needed to alter how I teach someone something because not everyone learns the same way. All while keeping a level head, too.”

Are there any particular spice combinations you’re favoring this season? “I go towards cardamom, five-spice [powder], and cinnamon—those warm flavors. And I usually mix in rosemary at some point, because why not? I also love everything-bagel spice, no matter the season.”

Do your personal tastes come into play here? “I always do the sweet and salty thing. I just love fruit with meat. Like a salami sandwich with apple, roast chicken with apricot jam, ham and peaches. Orange and rosemary is another one. And chocolate and rosemary. We have a shortbread now with chocolate, orange, and rosemary. It’s my favorite combination at the moment, especially for winter.”

How do you come up with all these tantalizing flavor combinations? “I don’t know where it comes from. Sometimes I might be looking at the spice rack and think ‘Oh, these would be good together.’ Or sometimes it’s like smelling a cup of coffee and thinking ‘Oh, this has notes of cherry; that would go really well with chocolate.’ And put a little smoked sea salt on that . . . It’s just an evolving stream-of-consciousness thing.”

How do you spend those spare moments when you’re not in the kitchen? “I like to read and play with my cat. I’m a pretty simple gal. I also like to go thrifting and fill my house with thrift goods. The Red Ribbon on Pendleton has amazing finds. I can always find a treasure there.”

What are your go-to dishes when cooking for yourself or for friends? “Pasta’s a go-to. Pasta with a cream sauce—it just makes everyone happy. Also, I never underestimate the power of a meat and cheese board for entertaining. For me personally, I’m probably eating rice and beans. I crave something really simple at the end of the day.”

Do you have a vision for Methodical at The Commons? “I’m really excited to see the new shop grow. There’s a lot of potential in this space and in our kitchen. Some days it feels like I’ve done so much work, but there’s even more to do. I feel like there will be collaboration among everyone at The Commons, and that will be exciting. There’s a lot of potential here for us all to come together.”

Methodical Coffee,

Photography by Paul Mehaffey