The Hub Cool News

Cool Coffee

New York’s arrival as "a serious coffee" town is evident in the number of artisanal-style shops opening in Midtown, reports Oliver Strand in The New York Times (5/7/14). "I was not looking at Midtown at all," says Ken Nye, founder of Ninth Street Espresso. "There are parts of New York that are off the radar, places you don’t want to be seen in because they’re not cool. Some are parts where the numbers don’t crunch. Midtown falls into both categories." Ken now has a Midtown shop on East 56th Street.

The change is perhaps partly because "the zealotry behind the counter has softened" and the patience among customers has improved. "We never thought that bankers in ties would wait in line for drinks that are a culinary product, instead of an injection of caffeine," says Jonathan Rubinstein, founder of a coffee company called Joe, which now has "eight shops in New York," and is negotiating for additional leases in all parts of the city. Landlords are encouraging the trend with favorable terms, particularly within office buildings and hotels.

"Midtown is not so artisanal, or not thought of that way," says Michael Phillips, a developer, who sees the shops as an attractive point-of-difference for his properties. "It is a great opportunity to shift the dialogue," he says. Meeting customer expectations does require new skills, however, which is why Counter Culture Coffee has opened "a 3,600 square foot" facility "for lectures, demonstrations, classes and training." (link) All told, NYC had 1,830 coffee shops as of March, and, on average adds one new shop "every three days."