COFFEED, a new coffee shop located at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and 38th Street in Long Island City is doing everything right. It is located in the behemoth Standard Motor Products building that catches the eye and lures curious Astorians down 38th Street, amidst the traffic, car dealerships and scant retail establishments of Northern Boulevard. The 300,000 square foot, six story building dates back to 1919 and in the last few years has become home to some highly regarded tenants, most notably the rooftop Brooklyn Grange. If COFFEED’s location seems a bit remote at first, consider the way the building both anchors this new business to the neighborhood’s industrial past and expands the type of retail, commerce and innovation occurring at its edges. If you’re still not convinced, the 36th Street M/R stop is a mere block away, and COFFEED is short walking distance from the UA Kaufman Studios Cinema, Museum of the Moving Image, and Studio Square.
COFFEED is about connectivity, collaborations and building community. Enormous windows draw you from the outside into a bright and airy space that feels both industrial and homey. Even before you see the coffee counter, a big red wall highlights COFFEED’s relationship with the Brooklyn Grange and sells food items made locally in and around Long Island City.** Impressively, 10% of COFFEED’s coffee and drink sales and 5% of their food sales go directly to charity, including City Growers whose mission is to connect urban communities with agriculture, food and environment through farm education and advocacy in order to foster a culture of health and sustainability. The reasonably priced, delicious-looking food menu at COFFEED also reflects the collaborative spirit of the place including items made both on premises or by local vendors. This is the first of what the partners involved with COFFEED hope will be a model replicated throughout the city, where they will become similarly entrenched in, and supportive of, every community where they open a location.
Within this lively general store atmosphere of local goods, overflowing with good will, the coffee at COFFEED does not disappoint. Their rare single origin roasts, prepared using the Pour Over technique, are intricately flavored and delicious. They also have the usual roster of espresso-based beverages, and I had an absolutely outstanding latte when I visited. As of now, the beans are roasted off site, however this month, they will begin roasting the beans in house. Within the next six weeks, COFFEED will also be adding local beers and wines to the menu, making an already exceptional place an even greater draw.
It’s worth noting that COFFEED reflects its location in the neighborhood in a truly authentic way. During the week, the new shop fills a much needed food and drink void in the area, enjoying lots of foot traffic and patronage from the employees of the local car dealerships, auto parts vendors, lighting and tile shops. Students and freelancers who need a nice place to work during the day are finding their way there, as are the intrepid seekers-out of good food and drink in the neighborhood. COFFEED also mercifully steers clear of gimmicks and adorableness that rule the day at too many coffee joints around New York City. These places take a stab at what matters to us (aesthetics, environmental ethics) but miss the mark, unable to contextualize themselves within the all important forest (neighborhood, city, world), lost amid weird little trees (baristas who look like apothecaries from the 1850’s, espresso bars made of wood from Michael Pollan’s grandmother’s house, latte foam velociraptors).
In contrast, COFFEED is a seriously good place: transparently charitable and generous to its neighbors, wide open and welcoming, large and multitudinous. COFFEED eschews the trend toward more obscure branding to put its mission and goals right into its name. This sort of straightforwardness, and heart-on-its sleeve engagement with the neighborhood around it, this depth and breadth of vision, should be rewarded with a visit. So give COFFEED a try, Astoria, and you’ll be rewarded right back.
**COFFEED is currently looking for additional locally made food items to carry as well as local artists who can feature their work on COFFEED’s high, brightly lit walls. Interested folks can contact the manager, Gene, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.