Happy 2012 my caffeine-addicted coffee crawlers! I know it’s been quite some time, (read: way too long) since my last java journey, but I’m finally back in action. It’s no excuse, but 2011 turned out to be an incredibly busy year for me, which temporarily pried me away from my duties at hand. Well enough of looking at the past, let’s get to the present and future. And what better way to do this than at Think Coffee in the West Village.
Located at 73 8th Avenue and 13th Street it’s practically in my backyard (if I didn’t live in New York City and actually had some grass and something more than the ‘concrete jungle’ to call a backyard). Some of you reading this, if you venture out to try this shop, may recognize its location. This building was the former nightclub Mansion. I myself never had the chance (opportunity?) to check it out, as it was much before my time as a New Yorker. Being who I am, however, I would much prefer a coffee shop to a nightclub in my neighborhood any day. Carrying on. It’s actually quite gorgeous here and I can still see the remnants of a nightclub atmosphere pervading the space: high railings where partiers would have placed their drinks as the people-watched, tall almost 13 foot ceilings, great acoustics, and massive. Yes, Think Coffee is probably three times the size of a normal city Starbucks location. The front 3rd of the coffee shop is dedicated to a small seating area complete with marble tabletops and beautiful leather sofas. The middle of the coffee shop is where the magic happens: espresso machines, coffee roasters, bean grinders and kitchen where food is prepared. Their pastries and muffins are shipped in but items such as oatmeal, granola and sandwiches are made in-house. The back of the coffee shop is another seating area. From my experience thus far, not many people venture back there as it’s a little oddly arranged with a lot of awkward open space. If this place is to succeed, something needs to go down back there because the crowd isn’t that large that’s eating here and it’s simply wasted space.
Unfortunately like too many coffee shops in the area, as soon as I walked in this morning I was greeted by blasting rock music and an unfriendly staff. I’m not sure why this atmosphere and attitude is prevalent at far too many businesses. It really does nothing to bring back customers in my opinion. I mean, I completely understand that pouring coffee to the West Village community is the last thing anyone would want to do at 8AM on a Saturday morning, but at least pretend to enjoy it. I don’t know, that’s just my opinion. Signs are scattered around the space which call out 2 main points, one the at I love and one that is quite frustrating: “10% of after-tax profits from this Think Coffee are donated to Hudson Guild, which runs a variety of educational and other programs for youth, teens and seniors in Chelsea and surrounding neighborhoods.” This is absolutely fantastic and a great business move. Supporting local initiatives and charities is one way that will keep a neighborhood “family” coming back to support. The second glaring sign reads “Welcome, WE DO NOT HAVE WIFI please enjoy your CONVERSATION.” Yes, the bolded areas here are actually bolded on the signs. I get that having WiFi will create people lingering and taking up space, but come on, even my park and the Starbucks across the street from my apartment offer WiFi.
The coffee here was decent: a very light roast, not too strong or overwhelming flavor. They do however claim to visit the farms where the beans are grown and say that the use only farms and farmers that are environmentally and socially responsible, another factor that will keep this neighborhood coming back for more. “Organic” and “sustainable” are two hot descriptors that coffee drinkers of today love to see. I tried their 7-grain muffin as well this morning and found it quite enjoyable actually. I was expecting, being as it’s the “healthy” muffin, that it would be dry, lacking in flavor and just all around bland. Much to my surprise it was the opposite of all of that: moist and freshly baked-tasting with a delicious light crumb topping. I may actually come back for this again.
All in all, I give Think Coffee a so-so rating. There are just so many things they could do with the space that they just haven’t thought through yet. It’s a shame really, because the business is not picking up and they’ve been open for about 3 months now. Despite my lackluster rating, I hate seeing businesses be slow. Hopefully it will pick up for them. But if you’re in the neighborhood, do stop in and see for yourself the former Mansion nightclub-turned-coffee-shop. I will stop in for my muffin, but you will most likely find me across the street at the Starbucks where I can actually blog live on WiFi and not save it to publish later.