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Washington Heights Coffee Shop Aims to Bring Community Feel Uptown

By Nigel Chiwaya | January 23, 2013 8:50am

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Haitem Weslati is a self-proclaimed coffee snob, and he's noticed a problem: there are no cafes between 155th and 168th Streets.

"I've been here six years and there's not one place," said Weslati, who lives on 158th Street.  "I have to go ten blocks up or ten blocks down. That's twenty blocks just to get a cup of coffee."

Rather than waiting for someone else to solve the coffee conundrum, Weslati is taking matters into his own hands; he's opening  Taszo, a new espresso bar located at 5 Edward Morgan Pl. between 157th and 158th Streets.

"Taszo" is a combination of the Spanish, Italian and Arabic words for cup, and Weslati says that's where the focus will be, as the cafe will serve high-quality espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes, with Brooklyn's Crop To Cup providing the coffee.

"It's not old conventional fluffy, milky coffee," said Weslati, a photographer who has shot the likes of Mayor Bloomberg, Beyonce and Kanye West. "It's high end coffee. We never want to be satisfied with the quality."

The cafe, which is expected to have a soft opening in early February, will seat around 30 people, with standing tables for those on the go, a large communal table for computer work, and couches and tables for conversation.

However, keyboard warriors shouldn't expect to be able to spend the workday at the Taszo, as the cafe will only allow computers at the communal table. Weslati says the rule is necessary because he wants the cafe to be a place for conversation.

"The community needs it; they need a place to hang out."

Those interested in following along on Taszo's construction can visit taszo.com.