Espresso Train : Coffeed

Location: 590 Avenue of the Americas.

While most of my espresso adventures have had me traversing around the island of Manhattan, I have been fortunate to have a very good café a stone’s throw from my house in Coffeed‘s flagship store, located on the south edge of Astoria and Long Island City. A very charity-focused organization, Coffeed has slowly been gaining traction since opening in 2012, growing from a tiny roaster in the middle of nowhere, into a collection of locally-sourced café/wine bar/restaurants around the New York area.

I have been going there every couple of weeks or so to get a latte or cold brew fix (depending on the season) whenever I didn’t have a chance to get into the city itself. Knowing the consistently good product these guys are able to turn out, I was thrilled when I heard that they were opening up another location in the middle of Chelsea, right in the thick of a huge swath of new customers that would be able to try their wares for the first time. The most recent time I asked about when it would open, I received the best answer I could possibly get: It had opened that day.

Well, the resulting course of action was pretty clear after that.

A bunch of decorative Kyoto drip coffee makers – Might not be functional, but that twisty glassware is great for ambiance.

There was an energy brimming from the place that can only come from people who really care about what they’re doing.

Lilspirations and I (as well as our respective significant others) had the opportunity to visit the new Chelsea location during their initial soft opening, less than an hour after opening their doors. We were greeted with a level of enthusiasm that speaks volumes about the quality of the coffee, the food, and the people working there – There was an energy brimming from the place that can only come from people who really care about what they’re doing. Part of that energy may have had to do with the fact that the head barista of the Coffeed franchise, as well as one of the overall general managers, were overseeing the kickoff of this new store, but it was clear that these people were all here because they genuinely wanted the store to succeed.

The new Chelsea location shares a lot of the same stylistic cues as its Queens sister, though perhaps with a somewhat less axe-murder-y outside environment due to not being right on Northern Boulevard in a largely industrial neighborhood.

Coffeed’s mission statement reads a little bit different from many other café’s that I’ve been to, with an emphasis slightly beyond that of the usual (though entirely admirable) desire to produce That Ultimate Cup of Coffee. There is an emphasis not only on fostering a sense of community but on the sustainability of community – everything that can be done by people in-house is done by people in-house, from the preparation of roasted beans and baked goods to the support of local artists and musicians to provide ambiance to their locations.  They even grow their own food on the roof of one of their buildings, not many places can really claim that. (More on that when I eventually talk about their flagship in detail.) Because of this, everyone there appears as if they are taking part in something bigger than any of them individually. It’s a refreshing change from many of the espresso bars, even high end ones, where the baristas are focused on their own personal crafts or (at worst) their next paychecks.

Managers teaching new baristas how to create latte art? Executive chefs chatting with people? That's a mentality I can get behind.
Managers teaching new baristas how to create latte art? Executive chefs chatting with people? That’s a mentality I can get behind.

It’s great to see a sense of community being fostered in a place like this, and I feel that the efforts taken to make this happen are what separate good or okay cafés from amazing ones. Coffee stores need not just be dispensaries for caffeine and pastries, they can also be meeting grounds, a “regular” place for lunch, or simply a venue to unload and relax. Coffeed takes full advantage of the space and opportunities they are given in this sense, creating a warm and welcoming environment right off the bat. All while delivering some really nice goods.