It’s sad but true: central Williamsburg is rapidly approaching Peak Coffee. There’s space for a few more cold-pressed juice bars and maybe three more over-the-top heritage menswear emporiums, but if you want to open a cutting-edge retail coffee concept, you’d best look further afield if you want to be competitive.
Take Búðin, an ambitious new Nordic-styled cafe, bar and design goods store that plans to bring coffees from roasters such as Tim Wendelboe in Norway and Koppi in Sweden to the rapidly changing Greenpoint neighborhood. Elliot Rayman, one of the proprietors, has worked at Variety Coffee’s Greenpoint outpost for a number of years, and Crystal Pei, another proprietor, lives in the neighborhood, so the location they found at 114 Greenpoint Ave is a logical fit in this post- Peak Williamsburg Coffee world. It’s also a logical fit because as many as ten 30-40 story luxury condo buildings will be going up on the Greenpoint waterfront in the next few years.
Talking to the team about their plans, Búðin definitely has the feeling of an (adopted) family affair. Rut Hermannsdóttir, the third proprietor, met Ms. Pei and bonded with her over a shared loved of the Nordic region while they were working on various film projects. Mr. Rayman shares that love with them, thanks to his experience as a musician touring the region. Ms. Hermannsdóttir lives in Oslo and is coordinating the sourcing aspects of the business over there, while Mr. Rayman and Ms. Pei are embedded in Greenpoint and bringing all its resources to bear on the project. The beer program is being curated by Lorcan Precious of Beer Street, the eclectic neighborhood draft and bottle shop. They’ve enlisted the help of some of their many (as yet unnamed) bartender friends in the area for the cocktail program.
Búðin means “the shop” in Icelandic, and the multi-focus shop they plan to create is certainly ambitious. They will be working with Tim Wendelboe and Koppi as their main roasters, and then plan to feature a rotating roster of other Nordic roasters as well, all prepared on a fancy Modbar system, paired with a Mazzer Robur-E and a Mahlkonig EK43 they will use for making “coffee shots“. (Mr. Rayman went to highschool with Ben Kaminsky, and it sounds like he’s definitely lent his thoughts to the endeavor). They will also offer V60s, Aeropresses and an as yet to be determined batch option.
On the food end, they plan to have a selection of more savory-focused small plates available, including Danish rye bread and some other more breakfast-focused fare. Their bar program sounds just as interesting. They plan on offering a house cocktail list focused on “aquavits, Nordic drinking bitters, Finnish moonshine, and many other amazing and exotic spirits”, and will also be offering a selection of beers from the region on tap and in bottles.
On the design end of things, they want to focus especially on Finnish design and offer all sorts of design goods, from sweaters and blankets to kitchenwares, lamps, books, and a selection of vinyl. They’ve worked with architect Kevin Oliver to create a design for the space that will skew more towards the “cozy” end of Nordic design than the more standard “clean and minimal” take.
If successful, Búðin will be the first shop in the US to consistently offer coffees from Nordic roasters. When asked if they were worried about potential shipping complications and the high costs, they were confident, saying that they consulted extensively with the roasters they plan to work with, in particular Tim Wendelboe who only six months ago added an international shipping option to his webshop, and they have Ms. Hermannsdóttir in Oslo to help coordinate logistics in the region. Búðin also plan to offer a whole-bean subscription service, offering these Nordic roasters to their customers to help offset the logistical challenges.
When asked about the potentially very high price of the coffees they plan to work with (a recent run of Drop Coffee from Sweden at the Joe Pro Shop was retailing for around $35/bag), Mr. Rayman said they were committed to making the prices “accessible yet fair”–which he said will probably mean about $8 a cup for many of their coffees, though they also plan to offer a cheaper “commuter cup” option.
Búðin certainly has a lot of interesting plans in the works, and it’ll be very exciting to see how well they can pull them all off. They’ve just started construction and are shooting for an opening “by the holidays”. How lovely does that sound? Doing your holiday shopping perusing Finnish lamps and kitchenwares in a cosy Nordic-styled shop, drinking an incredibly exclusive cup of coffee, in the heart of what may well become New York’s next coffee hot-spot.