Jordan is in New York! There’s more where this came from over the next few days on Sprudge.com!
Off the G line train at the Greenpoint station, past blocks of Polish bakeries and “Pyza” joints, across the wide-lane hustle of McGuiness Boulevard, GPS in hand, a blatant tourist but past the option of caring…and it sits like a little snowflake beacon at the end of a sleepy neighborhood block: the original Cafe Grumpy.
The much loved baby of owners Caroline Bell and Chris Timbrell, Cafe Grumpy has been open in Greenpoint for around 5 years, and now includes locations in Park Slope and Chelsea. Greenpoint is the original, and these days, it’s where the magic happens that helps Grumpy stand out in the NYC coffee scene. Yes, that’s a 12 kilo Probat in the back of the former gallery space. Yes, those are boxes and boxes (and boxes) of green. They’re really doing it; they’re a world-class working roaster right in the heart of Brooklyn.
Every unique visit to a cafe is a snapshot in space and time. With Grumpy, perhaps it’s more like a sonogram: you can see past the comfortable cafe space, past the pour over bar, straight through to the roast works, barely one year old, where Liam Singer is doing careful, measured work with some truly fine product. When I visited, the Grumpy menu included:
*El Salvador Finca El Aguila
*Costa Rica Los Angeles
*Kenya Fairview Peaberry
*Honduras COE Fernandez El Cielto
And their very own Heartbreaker Espresso blend, currently an all-washed 3 bean plural marriage of Colombia Tolima, Colombia Huila, and the aforementioned Costa Rica Los Angeles. My shot of espresso, pulled by longtime employee Brian, breathes sweetly floral in the nose, and comes across perfectly aquatic and neutral on the palate…til the last long, endless, sweet sip registers, and lingers, and stays, and starts paying rent for crashing on your couch. I also take a pour over of the Costa Rica Los Angeles, sourced by Atlas, and it cools brown sugar sweet throughout the cup. An instruction manual on 2010 Costa Rican washed coffees could cite this pour in the footnotes, and from start to finish I’m with my Los Angeles for plenty long enough to enjoy the soft, breathy tenor jazz on in the cafe. Lovely.
I’m lucky enough to have 20 minutes or so to chat with Colleen Duhamel, Grumpy’s green buyer, who is kindly walks me through sourcing questions and cues me in on Grumpy’s plans for the future. They’re currently working with top-notch green sorcerers like Virmax and Atlas, but Colleen spends more and more time each year at origin (she raves to me about a recent trip to Brazil, and leaves for Colombia in just a few days). Grumpy’s next big step is to push towards a menu prominently featuring directly purchased coffees, a profoundly ambitious goal for a cafe that feels just like part of a neighborhood, and has only been roasting for a year. The whole space feels so comfortable…is that comfort a disconnect from the ambition clearly at work down the hall in the Grumpy roast lab? Or perhaps this is the new face of ambition: unassuming, sweet, and professionally getting it done as one of the better microroasters on the planet.
There’s no info on the uniquely minimalist Grumpy bean bag, but you have tons to learn at the Cafe Grumpy website. Better still, people like Brian and Colleen are generous with their time and knowledge, without a trace of New York gruffness, and they’re more than willing to share the story of their coffees with you. Go visit them at Grumpy Greenpoint (193 Meserole Ave, G Train Greenpoint stop), or check out the Grumpy Chelsea and Park Slope locations.