We strolled down 19th St. to Gotham Coffee Roasters to meet with barista Kieran Dennis and get his take on cafe culture in New York City.
What brought you in to the world of coffee?
A girl actually. She had been working in coffee for a time herself and when I asked her about work I might be able to look for, she suggested a cafe.
What do you look for when you go in to a new place?
If I want to find out I'll do an espresso. You want to taste that sweetness, and also you want to watch how they make it, because you can tell immediately if they're doing something right or wrong. There's also a lot of audio cues; like hearing how they steam their milk.
The facility we're in is beautiful. It was used for coffee originally, and then it was used for bootlegging alcohol during prohibition, and then finally back to coffee.
How do you feel about Latte Art? How long did it take you to master it?
Latte art as far as I know it came into being as a way to prove that you were steaming your milk right. The design and art of it that followed is a nice side effect of that.
What's special about Gotham, that's different from other cafes?
It's a single flagship store in the middle of Manhattan and everybody I work with is a geek for coffee. We have some fun signature drinks, and we like to inspire our customers on coffee types and brew methods.
What do you love most about cafes? What makes them so unique?
I always love the chance to let my mind wander and wonder about anything. It's a good chance to people watch and glimpse into everybody else's day.
Is there anything that customers ask that pisses you off?
No, I got over that. Sometimes you get people who try and order like they're in a different place, and you can either choose to guide them or be an asshole about it. My goal is to give you the best coffee.
So you guys do all your green bean roasting in a private facility in Red Hook?
Yes, I'm currently learning to roast from Chris Calkins (owner) right now. He's amazing, he has 30 years of experience, so everything he says I'm listening to very carefully. The facility we're in is beautiful. It was used for coffee originally, and then it was used for bootlegging alcohol during prohibition, and then finally back to coffee. We do sample roasting, and we cup every week; it's a great experience.
How would you describe the cafe scene here in New York right now. Has it changed much in the last few years?
I haven't been here long enough to give you an accurate answer on that. What is obvious though, is that there is constant growth. People love their coffee!
What is the secret to great taste?
The secret is you. There are so many different options available to brew and change small parts of a flavor profile that it becomes about you. Aeropress, pour over, espresso, chemex.. and more!
Gotham Coffee Roasters is located in 23 West 19th St, New York, NY.