It’s a reciprocal love, New York and Denmark. Chic Americans—like the many who scrape together the money to live a “New York lifestyle”—tend to appreciate, even yearn for, the modern, clean style and soft tones of Danish design. It’s a soothing counterbalance to the rat-strewn streets of our crowded boroughs. And yet—for whatever reason—the Danes love us back.
When Danish roaster La Cabra opened calmly on 2nd Avenue in 2021, it was only a matter of time before founder Esben Piper would fall in long-term love with the city (and, well, with a New York girlfriend) and move here himself. Besides its Danish roots (in Aarhus and Copenhagen), La Cabra boasts two locations in Bangkok, and this weekend opens its second NYC location in Soho. It would no longer be fair to call the NYC cafes “outposts”, however—the company will begin roasting in Bushwick, Brooklyn later this year, making a North American headquarters the new reality for La Cabra.
The new space in a 100-year-old historic Soho building (boasting $5,000,000+ apartments above) aims for beautiful, comfortable exploration of design La Cabra fans are familiar with, but with a greater focus on rare and interesting coffees and lots, says Piper. The thoughtful curation of both the environment and the intended experience within go hand in hand. “For me, it’s just when you walk into like a space that is well designed and put together, I’m always looking—not like consciously—but I want there to be a few… not necessarily mistakes, but I want there to be something that is not perfect, some things that just feel more organic and feel less designed so you can explore the space a little bit more calmly,” explains Piper. “It’s the same thing with our coffee program. We don’t want to lay out everything. We want our guests to feel they can explore themselves and get an idea of it, see what they feel when they enter that layout: they should explore the experience themselves and feel free to do so.”
Coffees guests will be able to explore at the store’s opening this spring include filter coffee at a range of price points, espresso flights and a variety of teas from Inari Tea. Piper says that a program of focused tastings will be developed to highlight certain producing partners, along with special pastries, will be part of the cafe’s experience. “I’ve been inspired by some of our trips to Japan and Korea,” whose thoughtful coffee service Piper cites as inspiration. “I think they’re a bit ahead of us.”
The shop will naturally offer select pastries—including seasonal offers alongside cardamom buns and the cafe’s cult sourdough, which are for the time being still baked at their nearby East Village location.
True La Cabra fans are here for the design deets as much as the coffee highlights, of course. The bar—which will catch your eye immediately if it’s not too obscured by a huge line—is part of the La Cabra signature look. The picturesque tiles come from KH Wurtz in Aarhus, which Piper and his team enlisted first for their East Village store—”every single tile is handmade and unique”—then this one as well. (And yes, there will be matching cups.)
“For this location here,” says Piper, “it feels very organic and special, and together with some very famous Nordic Scandinavian design classics and some Scandinavian art as well, we’re going to try and balance it out, bringing a lot of organic coziness to the field.”
The cafe’s sleek, U-shaped center bar brings together this organic coziness along with the latest in unobtrusive coffee tech. Streamlined taps for cold drinks, tea preparation, and two undercounter Mavam espresso groups line the south bar, while the north leaves plenty of space for pastry-ogling and more experiential coffee service like V60 brews. And there’s bona fide seating in the shop as well—tables to share bread and coffee moments with friends at, a couple of cute solo window perches. It’s a veritable palace of to-stay choices compared to the E.V. shop.
How this expression of the La Cabra brand will mesh into the hefty retail mix of this swath of Broadway-Lafayette Soho will be an interesting unfolding. This New York doesn’t feel like a neighborhood in the traditional sense, but a retail runway—La Cabra names among its immediate neighbors the Carhartt “Work in Progress” boutique, Onitsuka Tiger, and even a La Colombe just a few doors down (which should prove confusing to many first dates). Will the shoppers on this promenade soon count a boutique Aarhus brand among their favorite labels? New York coffee-watchers can’t wait to see.
Liz Clayton is the associate editor at Sprudge Media Network. Read more Liz Clayton on Sprudge.