Cafe Grumpy: Nolita Coffee
6 words or less: Blend of Whimsy & Coffee Science
Location: 177 Mott Street (NoLita)
Hours: Weekdays 7am-7:30pm, Weekends 7:30am-7:30pm
Open Since: (This location) June 2016/ (Original Grumpy in Greenpoint, Brooklyn) 2005
Amenities: bathroom, no wifi, laptop plug-ins, seating for 20 (2 seater tables, long bar)
Must Try: Cortado with Espresso, Heartbreaker Blend
Roaster: They roast there own, See my tour of the roasters–HERE
Owner: Chris Timbrell and Caroline Bell
Walking into this little neighborhood spot, the reverence for coffee hits you alongside the smell of fresh coffee. The gleaming bright orange espresso machine, and the uniform rows of Grumpy’s coffee bags pull in you from the heat-box of the Chinese-Italian hybridity of the neighborhood. The lively current pulsing underneath the reverence for coffee’s science can be discovered in the details: the maneki-neko(Japanese lucky cat)’s slow-moving paw gleaming from the edge of a shelf, Grumpy’s bright orange accenting the displays, to-go cups carefully illustrated by idle baristas sitting on top of the coffee grinder and of course, the Cafe Grumpy logo of the curmudgeonly downturned mouth frown-greeting you. Cafe Grumpy, perhaps more than any other roaster/cafe in town, provides you will an ideal drip in balance with local whimsy. Coffee here takes itself seriously, but not so seriously that it won’t win over your heart after it wakes up your mind.
When I met with Joe Monett, the head coffee trainer for Cafe Grumpy, at the Nolita location of their local chain, we swapped stories of how we first were won over by Grumpy. The shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn was one of the first destinations for New York coffee geeks. In 2005, I visited just to see what it was all about. At that time, two Aussies Chris and Caroline were busy fusing together their Australian coffee-science side with caprice of Brooklyn. I loved the name and the coffee at the time, but the Grumpy hadn’t yet come into its own, hadn’t yet become the roasters they are now.
Joe had a similar love story. Before he became the trainer for the fleet of 40-45 baristas at the now 8 locations around the city, he fell in love with how the mix of how seriously Grumpy took its coffee and how much fun the staff was having behind the counter. While the shop invents delicious concoctions such as the summery Wise Sunrise (mango juice, ginger, espresso & ice), they are establishing relationships with coffee farmers and carefully roasting to develop the layers of aroma and flavor in each cup; they’re seriously third wave coffee minus the pretension.
The salted Chocolate Chip cookie (crafted by The Good Batch) and a simple small drip coffee made me wonder what else a person might want from an afternoon in lower Manhattan.