Shuteye Coffee in Harlem on 116th Street between Lenox & Adam Clayton Powell opened in April 2018, but was an idea for the shop was born years before while the owners were touring through Europe. Joseph and Guy, who run the shop and can almost always be found behind the espresso machine, fell in love with Madrid’s coffee scene. The shops they encountered there were warm, unassuming, full of connection and featured amazing drinks.
When they met East One coffee roaster, Selena who lives in Harlem but roasts in Brooklyn, they knew they had a chance to bring a bit of the connection they saw flourishing in Madrid to the streets of Harlem.
Joseph and Guy met as kids growing up up outside of Yosemite, playing music and hiking in another world from NYC. Both their lives were intertwined with playing and producing music–every time I visited Shuteye there was great jazz playing and a stack of vinyl leaned against the wall adjacent to the espresso machine. Shuteye was the name of a nearby mountain peak in Yosemite.
Joseph mentioned that they wanted their shop to feel less like a commercial space and more like a community one. They designed the shop themselves. After spending three mornings there, I noted how each time I opened the door and stepped over the concrete threshold with the Shuteye logo etched across it, a small buzz of chatter spilled out onto the sidewalk. The place is decorated with cross-stitch, plants, exposed brick and a handful of cool NYC books. One Sunday, a father and child sat against the high bar to the left, munching on doughnuts from Underwest. A group of students who seemed to be in graduate school sat in the two window-side tables discussing their coursework while drinking cappuccinos and Brioche toast from Bien Cuit–an award-winning bakery in Brooklyn which Shut Eye sources fresh each day. Peeking into the bakery display case was a local woman who worked for a health care non-profit buying a cup of drip on her way to an extra shift at work. Another older man walked in, ordered an espresso and downed it right at the counter before thanking Joseph and walking out. With each of these customers Joseph and Guy seemed to know a bit about each of them; it was a crowd of regulars who seemed to only share the commonality of being a regular.
Though Shuteye had only been open 8 months when I found them, already they’d created a space meant for (in Joseph’s words) “no one in particular” except for people particular about their coffee. The coffee here was the best I’ve had in Harlem yet. Welcome to the neighborhood, Shuteye.
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