Sunday afternoon next to a Grumpy Man at Café Grumpy

In a small Café hidden on 22nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue, a grumpy man sat with his son and wife.  “If it’s not known, it’s unknown!” he exclaimed.  His son and wife hardly responded to his epiphany and continued to read the Sunday paper.  The man, who used a dark wooden cane to walk, was sitting next to me in of the new artisanal coffee shops to open up in Manhattan over the past year or so.  Café Grumpy, which has one location in Manhattan and two in Brooklyn, roasts its own beans and is growing in popularity.

Walking on 22nd street, the Café itself is barely recognizable on the outside as a place to get coffee.  Grumpy cartoon faces on the shop windows let those who recognize the branding that coffee is served here.  When I visited Café Grumpy earlier today, there was a consistent stream of traffic flowing which led me to believe that despite its unrecognizable exterior that the word has indeed gotten out.  I waited on line for a short amount of time and perused the usual array of croissants, scones, muffins, and $10 cookies in the shape of coffee cups (made by Sugarbuilt).  Yes $10.  As beautiful as the cookies looked, I thought: 1) its hard icy coating would shatter my teeth and 2) the taste would not justify the expense but again, it did look beautiful.

Another beautiful thing was my latte.  However, I did learn later the espresso beans were not made in company’s Greenpoint Roastery but purchased from elsewhere.  The Barista assured me that Café Grumpy espresso is soon on its way.  Despite the music that was playing (I could have personally done without Björk playing at 12:30 in the afternoon) and one very loud Barista, the coffee shop seemed to be a throwback to what coffee bars could have looked like before Starbucks infiltrated everyone’s coffee cups.  There were no couches or used books or beat up board games missing essentials pieces, just some really good coffee in a hidden spot between two busy avenues.  The question is now if this new breed of Cafés can withstand the traffic of NYC coffee drinkers especially if it’s no longer “unknown.”

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