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East Village Coffee Shop Hopes to Add Beer to Menu

Ken Nye outside his original Ninth Street Espresso store on the East Village.
Ken Nye outside his original Ninth Street Espresso store on the East Village.
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Ken Nye

EAST VILLAGE — Ninth Street Espresso has been serving up specialty coffee to the East Village for the past decade, and now it's hoping to add another rich brown brew to the menu — beer.

Coffee purveyor Ken Nye, 43, a pioneer in the city's artisanal coffee movement, hopes to fire up the taps at the soon-to-relocate East 10th Street and Ave. B outpost of the store, pending approval of his liquor license application by the local Community Board.

If all goes well, he said, he'll eventually try to come up with his own brand of brew.

"I love having a beautiful cup of coffee in the morning and at six o’clock I want to have an absolutely beautiful beer in the evening," said Nye, who's set to appear before the community board June 18. "I am sure there are other people out there who feel the same."

But Nye said there's no chance his new shop at 343 E. 10th St., which will replace the existing 341 E. 10th St. location, will turn into a typical East Village bar and lounge. The application lists an 11 p.m. closing time and Nye said he plans to limit the beer selection to a maximum of three beers on tap.

"We are really not trying to become a bar," said Nye, who owned the bar 9C on East 9th Street and Avenue C throughout the 1990s. "It is almost a place just to showcase beer."

He said he has no interest in returning to his life as a nightlife impresario.

"Its a hard business," said Nye, who is now a father and lives in the outer boroughs. "It is not the healthiest of lifestyles."

The East 10th Street location, which opened in 2007, is the  is the second of three outposts of the Ninth Street Espresso chain. The original store at ninth street and Avenue C opened in 2001. The store's third outpost opened in 2007 at the Chelsea Market.

Nye said he's planning to open the 343 E. 10th St. location, by the end of the summer, doubling the existing space with an enclosed backyard.

He's currently in talks with the Blind Bat Brewery in Long Island to be one of the suppliers for the Ninth Street Espresso brew.

"He is as passionate about beer as we are about coffee," said Nye, describing the Blind Bat's owner Paul Dlugokencky.

Nye said his beer approach will be minimalist, much like the coffee offering at the Ninth Street Espresso's recently scaled back menu — espresso with steamed milk in 3, 6, 9 or 12 ounce options and American brewed coffee.

While neighboring bars are a flood of Indian Pale Ales, Nye said he prefers old style ales, brown ales and porters. One of his favorites is the 21st Amendment Brewery from San Francisco.

"My personal preferences shift with time," he said, adding that his beer selection will change over the course of the year.

But he said no matter what beers are on tap, they'll be chosen with the same attention to detail as his coffee.

"The guy that drinks my coffee doesn't go and drink a Bud Light in the afternoon," said Nye.

"At least I hope he doesn't."