In the poppin’-off world of pop-up shops, there are many shades of gray. There are the pseudo-pop-ups roosting for years at a time in shared, sympathetic spaces. There are splashy seasonal toe-dips into other markets. There are fully built-out bars wedged into the escalator nooks of glassy office towers.
And then there’s two guys with a couple Bonavita kettles and a plywood counter that breaks down into a double-parked van every morning at 11am, making way for patrons of the scuzz-chic East Village sandwich shop they squat in during breakfast hours. Those people are Stand Coffee.
The portable brainchild of friends Daniel Zettner and Bryan Hasho, Stand Coffee has been operating in the back of chef Eddie Huang’s revered 14th Street Baohaus since early February. Hasho, a veteran of Blue Bottle Coffee and Lavazza, found himself stumbling into Baohaus at 2am enough times that watching the sun rise from within seemed natural. The pair approached Huang, who gave them the go-ahead to install a minimal, temporary coffee bar in the way-back of the shop during morning downtime. (Bao service doesn’t start til 11:30am.)
And Stand’s stand is indeed minimal. Straining your eyes past the galley kitchen you’ll make out the all-black bar, stocked with a skeleton lineup of one Hario V60 pour-over station, the aforementioned two electric Bonavita kettles, an air pot, and a grinder. Next to their Square point-of-sale setup—maybe the fanciest part of the operation—is a short but sweet menu, offering one blend and one single origin from Brooklyn roaster Café Grumpy, along with a cold brew and two custom drinks (and a small bin of really cute T-shirts screened by Zettner’s sister in Detroit).
“We’re a New York brand, so I wanted to use a brand not just roasting in New York but from New York,” says Hasho of Café Grumpy. “I’ve always been a fan of their coffees,” he continued, “they’re underutilized.”
Though Zettner, like Hasho, is a Blue Bottle alum, that’s not where the two met. (“I did work for Blue Bottle for a minute…but, delivering their coffee,” Zettner says.) Rather, the pair connected while working for New York bakery chain Financier, for whom Hasho still consults. “It’s great for us,” says Zettner of his partner’s second gig, “because he’s employed!”
Stand’s lo-fi portability has made them a good fit at Baohaus, and garnered them entree into the coffee-drinking New York City art world. They recently provided coffee service for Art on Paper, InstaCamp, and the Affordable Art Fair. They’re also booked to brew at Art Market this April in San Francisco—surely a city that needs a portable coffee stand flown in from across the country.
“It’s easy for us to set up in almost any environment,” says Zettner, who points out that they can obviously bring however much equipment need dictates—though you’ll note there’s no espresso on the menu.
“At first, I don’t think it’s necessary,” says Hasho. “We kind of build a new shop for everything that we do. We do the really cool manual fill tanks which are essentially pool pumps,” he continues. “We’ve gotten a shocking amount of restaurants wanting to work with us, but we’re trying to find the right one and not go too fast, we want to experiment. It’s been five weeks, and the amount that we’ve grown in terms of people and interest is kind of crazy.”
Moreover, not worrying about espresso has enabled Stand to refine what they’re doing a bit more creatively, both in terms of where they brew and what. “We didn’t believe espresso was a requirement,” says Hasho about building interesting drinks in a minimalist environment. “Everything about this is an experiment, and that’s how we like it!”
Two of those experiments are on the menu: the Almond Palmer, a cold-brew-based drink enlivened with vanilla extract and lemon mixed with almond milk, and the Stormy Weather, based on Café Grumpy’s Heartbreaker blend along with cardamom, molasses, and grass-fed butter. Say what you will about trends, but putting a butter coffee on a five-drink-only menu is a bold move.
“There’s a lot of people who want delicious coffee and there’s a lot of people who wanted butter in their coffee, and those people weren’t the same,” says Hasho. With aims to help both the good-coffee people and the butter-coffee people reach across the aisle, Stand worked with Café Grumpy’s Nate Long on composing a drink delicious enough to serve everyone.
Moreover, Hasho sees the Stand experiment as part of a way to build a bridge between specialty coffee and new audiences, not just specialty’s existing audience.
“One of the things that frustrated me about specialty coffee is that it seemed like everyone in [it] was working so hard to get their piece of a pie that wasn’t particularly large in the greater scope of coffee. I’m much more interested in expanding the pie fully.”
Hasho adds that he looks to business models like those of Joyride Coffee, which delivers specialty coffee to workplace settings, for inspiration. “I have a lot of respect for guys like Joyride,” he says, “who are pushing stuff forward in terms of adoption.”
For now? The pair and their crew of friends just want to serve great coffee, Hasho says.
“We are committed to two, three years of not having a lot of money and just having a good time and making a name for ourselves.”
Liz Clayton is the Associate Editor at Sprudge.com, and our NYC Bureau Chief. Read more Liz Clayton on Sprudge.