Influx of Indie Coffee Shops in Astoria Giving New Flavor to Daily Grind

By Jeanmarie Evelly on August 7, 2014 8:40am | Updated on August 8, 2014 6:03pm

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 At least five coffee-focused cafes have opened recently, or are planning to open in the neighborhood soon.
Astoria Gets Batch of New Indie Coffee Shops
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ASTORIA — Java lovers, rejoice. Astoria is getting a major pick-me-up with a number of new coffee shops that have recently debuted or are set to open soon in the neighborhood.

In addition to major chains — a new Starbucks opened on Astoria Boulevard this summer and Korean coffee company Caffe Bene is planning two locations — there are at least five independent coffee shops that have opened their doors recently or are currently in the works.

"The proliferation of these places is really fast and furious," said Sue Yacka, an Astoria resident who chronicles the local food scene on her blog Tastoriaqueens.

The newcomers will join longtime local favorites that serve traditional Greek coffee, like Artropolis and Cafe Boulis.

"Astoria has been the land of frappes — we've had Greek coffee for a long time," said Meg Cotner, author of "Food Lover's Guide to Queens." For her, the The Coffee Pot on 23rd Avenue is among her favorite old-guard coffee spots.

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The new indie cafes — many of which take an artisanal approach to their coffee with beans from select roasters and high-end techniques in some cases — are a welcome addition, both said.

"Wherever I am, I'm happy if there's a coffee shop in the neighborhood," said Yacka.

Many of the new shops are labors of love opened by local residents, and each has something a little different to offer, Cotner added.

"I don't think we're yet at the saturation point," she said. "There are these different kinds of places that are opening, and I think places that can distinguish themselves can survive."

Below is a map and roundup of independent coffee shops and cafes that have opened or are soon to open in the neighborhood. Know one we missed? Let us know in the comments section.

Kinship Coffee Cooperative, 30-05 Steinway St.
Astoria residents and husband-and-wife team Stanley Rivera and Ashley Wood-Rivera opened Kinship Coffee Cooperative in April, where they serve drinks made with beans from Stumptown Coffee and other roasters, plus pastries from Balthazar and Mast Brothers chocolate bars.

"We're focused on coffee," said Rivera. "I'd say over 90 percent of our focus is coffee, and the remaining 10 percent is focused on high-quality things that go really well with coffee."

He has a history in the field: owning a coffee shop with his family in his native Iowa in the 90s, and he's spent his more recent years managing coffee programs at cafes here in the city.

Kinship plans to host monthly "community cupping" events where customers can taste and evaluate different coffees, and they also plan to offer brewing lessons for java aficionados.

To learn more about future events, you can sign up for their mailing list here.

60 Beans, 36-02 Ditmars Blvd.
Peter Voyiatzis and John Rocchio, the team behind the popular Astoria bagel shops Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company, are expected to open a coffee and tea house called 60 beans this month.

The owners told DNAinfo in July that the shop will serve brewed coffee and espresso drinks, with beans hailing from Massachusetts-based roaster George Howell Coffee, as well as a selection of teas and a simple menu of baked goods. They'll also serve craft beer and wine in the evenings.

On top of that, the shop will have free WiFi as well as outdoor seating, the owners said.

OK Cafe, 22-04 33rd St.
Giselle Grncarski and her husband Predrag Grncarski — who live in the neighborhood with their daughters — opened the doors of OK Cafe last week, fulfilling a longtime dream of theirs to run their own cafe.

The cafe serves organic coffee and organic tea — even their milk is organic — and coffee beans hail from Counter Culture, which helped train the OK Cafe barista staff.

"A person can spend a lot of money on the most expensive coffee in the world, but if they don’t know how ot brew it properly, it's just going be nothing more than mediocre," Grncarski said. "So we're really focusing on training."

Pastries hail from Brooklyn bakery Colson, and vegan and gluten-free goodies come from the Long Island City-based This Chick Bakes. Unique menu items include a New Orleans cold brew coffee that's infused with chicory or a Mexican-spiced mocha that has chilies in the chocolate.

The cafe also boasts a "Kyoto" cold brew coffee maker that takes 14 hours to make one pot.

"It oxidizes the coffee in a way that gives it a smoky flavor," Grncarski said. "Only the lucky few who get here early enough are allowed to have it — we don't even put it on the menu, because we will run out."

Astoria Coffee, 30-04 30th St.
Astoria couple Dennis Lee and Liz Wick are getting ready to open their long-awaited brick-and-mortar coffee shop, after having made a name for themselves in the neighborhood by starting a coffee bean delivery service last year.

The pair are hoping to open the doors to Astoria Coffee sometime this month, where they plan to serve beans from a changing roster of coffee roasters from around the country.

"We'd like to have one or two roasters in at any time and rotate those every month, every two months, whatever makes sense," Lee said. "We really like to highlight that variety that exists in coffee nowadays."

Tea will come from Teapigs, and pastries will come from Ceci Cela Patisserie, with plans to expand the food menu to include local purveyors like clients from the Entrepreneur Space and ice cream from flea market vendor Ice & Vice.

Astoria Coffee will have WiFi and also plans to host the works of local artists, Lee said.

Caffino, 29-18 Crescent St.
Husband-and-wife pair Sija and Husko Celic, who opened Caffino on May 1, both have a long history in the hospitality world — she's been a hairdresser for the last 20 years, while he had his own cafe and bar in Europe.

"We would hypothetically talk about opening up a business together," said Sija Celic, saying they decided to take the leap after seeing the Crescent Street shop space was up for rent.

All of Caffino's coffee comes from La Colombe beans, a roaster based in Philadelphia.

"They are top notch when it come to doing what they do," Celic said.

The shop serves loose teas from McNulty's on Christopher Street, and baked goods from Balthazar. A sandwich menu includes options like smoked turkey and avocado or buffalo mozzarella with tomato and basil, also served on bread from Balthazar.

"We don't have a large menu, but what we do have is really, really good quality," said Celic, adding that they get items delivered fresh every day. "We carry what we like and who we respect, because we respect their quality and reputation."

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