First Look: Box Kite Coffee NYC

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It’s been a long time coming, but despite hell and high water, Cora Lambert and Erik Becker’s full-fledged Box Kite cafe opened softly this weekend in New York’s East Village. The cafe replaces the pop-up Lambert and Becker popped up for the better part of 2013 at TriBeCa wine bar Maslow 6, which is now closed.

Now located at 115 St. Marks Place (a highly convenient one-door distance from Crif Dog/PDT), Box Kite’s petite, modern space opened Saturday with coffee from Tim Wendelboe, an example of the exceptional coffees the pair will continue to offer (look for Ritual and MadCap as mainstays, with rotating international guests).

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There will be four grinders aboard: one for milk-based drinks, one for guest espressos, one for straight espressos, and one decaf. Expect to see Coffee Collective beans guesting in some of these hoppers in early January.

Espresso drinks will be prepared on “the prettiest machine in the world,” according to Lambert. The shop’s Synesso Hydra is powder coated navy blue with custom wood fixtures by Reg Barber. Filter brewed coffees will be prepared via Kalita Wave (the wee little mini ones), and Fetco.

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The coffee bar is small (though not for New York), with the only seats at the front windows (which will open up to the street in fair weather) and alongside the counter. Lambert says she was inspired by diner counters, and hopes the space will naturally encourage more bar interaction. “We’ve got some sick soda fountain stools that aren’t here yet,” she promises.

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The space will offer not only coffee but beer, a quality wine list, Amari, and a selection of low-ABV cocktails (including coffee flights, and a “Sherryback” or “Amaroback” you can sidecar with your coffee, inspired, apparently, by the Pickleback). Two kegs will rotate beers, one each of hoppy and malty, whatever’s your pleasure.

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A chef will be coming aboard to do small plates amenable to both booze and coffee, like a local fluke crudo with apple and pea shoots, or a Croque Madame made with pear, Tallegio, and egg. While the food program gets fully underway, look for treats baked by Intelligentsia, Cafe Grumpy and Southside alum Amber Sather to continue the comforting, superdelicious baking she started at the Box Kite pop-up (peanut butter thumbprint cookies: check!) Sather’s deep expertise in coffee has allowed her to taste her creations alongside the coffees Lambert will be serving, and offer pastry that works in harmony with Box Kite’s brewed offerings.

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Above all, Lambert’s thrilled to see the long-growing dream of her own cafe finally take shape in the heart of Manhattan’s eating and drinking community. From her first serious coffee stint at the defunct, magically strange The Mercury Dime, only two blocks away, through her tenure at (the even stranger) RBC NYC and regular work-abroad trips to Montreal’s Cafe Myriad (“Between Anthony and Scott Rao, they undid my mind about everything I knew about coffee,” says Lambert) — Lambert’s finally poised to take the city on herself. So from the coffee snobs citywide to the stumbling drunks of St. Marks — you’re on official alert. Box Kite is ready for you.

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Liz Clayton is the author of “Nice Coffee Time“, a regular columnist for Serious Eats: Drinks, and New York City chief at Sprudge.com. She lives in Brooklyn. Read more Liz Clayton here.


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