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Inside Blue Bottle’s Brand New Brooklyn Cafe

Inside Blue Bottle’s Brand New Brooklyn Cafe

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Blue Bottle Coffee soft-opened its fifth New York City coffee shop this weekend in Brooklyn—and with it, brought a little sunshine.

The box-sized cafe on Dean Street just off of Smith sits in the heart of the bustling, baby-booming Boerum Hill, an upscale neighborhood desperately underserved by great coffee. (Nearby, esteemed Bien Cuit bakery and Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream each offer a legit coffee experience, but it’s incredible that it took until 2014 for this neighborhood to draw a full-time fancy cafe.) And as evidenced by this weekend’s lines out the door, there’s always, always room for more great coffee in New York.

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The space—really not much bigger than a room—is warm and inviting on its own, but a huge front window that lets the outside in is the crowning glory of this cafe, expanding its space into Dean Street and infinity, and evoking the open-air feel and street-gathering vibe of Blue Bottle’s Linden Street kiosk in San Francisco.

Working with incredibly small spaces is part of the thrill of opening cafes in New York, but this time, Blue Bottle looked to a loftier conceit: what might this small rectangle be best imagined as, the design team mused? Apparently, the answer to this is: Marcel Proust’s cork-lined Parisian bedroom—though, mysteriously, madeleines did not make the cut for the shop’s baked goods offerings.

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Though Blue Bottle’s designers originally did look into cork as a wall covering, it was deemed to be too delicate, and African teak was selected in its stead. The room is just large enough for about four to crowd behind the bar, and six to ten to snuggle up inside, either resting their drinks on the standing bar/windowsill or jockeying for cream. Like most of the city’s Blue Bottle locations (with the exception of Blue Bottle Chelsea’s full-service back bar) there’s nowhere here to sit, but tree benches will be installed on Dean Street imminently for the nature set. (Speaking of seats, there’s amazingly also a microbathroom in here—a generous concession to their customers.)

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Perched high atop the cafe’s shelves is the sound system: Joey Roth speakers with subwoofer and amp, a perfect fit for this petitely proportioned Proustian parlor. (For those not in the know, Roth is an LA-based designer who, according to his company website, “likes long-distance skateboarding, reading and cooking with kale.”)

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Coffee-wise, the setup will ring familiar to Blue Bottle aficionados. By-the-cup offerings are hand-poured on a Bonmac dripper bar, and espresso selections include one blend, one single origin, and a decaf.

In tandem with the cafe’s debut, Blue Bottle Dean Street also sees the launch of the roaster’s newest espresso blend, House of Good, created by DFA Records/LCD Soundsystem guy James Murphy, who has been working for months to balance the perfect balance of dance and party in the cup. The offering—an intense, part-bitter, fruit-wrapped-in-a-punch shot of syrupy body, is a blend of 50% a longer-roasted Ethiopian, with 25% Guatemalan, and 25% Congolese coffees. When asked for comment on the construction of his long-awaited coffee blend, Murphy replied only, “Boom!”

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Blue Bottle Dean Street opens officially to the public on Tuesday, February 25th. It is located at 85 Dean Street, Brooklyn, New York, between Smith and Hoyt.

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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