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30 Days, 30 Coffee Shops: Roasting Plant

October 26, 2009

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Day 10

I’m visiting one new coffee shop every day for a month. Mainly because I broke my coffee pot. Check out the other reasons and guidelines here. And if you have any recommendations, please let me know!

Working for start-ups has a certain degree of…uh, let’s say…volatility. One of my clients recently ran out of money and capped my hours, so I’ve had a bit more free time to plan new projects, seek new writing engagements and, perhaps best of all, seek out coffee shops beyond the borders of what I consider an acceptaIMG_2723ble distance to carry my computer.

That is, more or less, how I came upon Roasting Plant. This Lower East Side joint is a grab-and-go type of place, which under normal circumstances, this blog would consider an enormous cafe faux paus. But I wasn’t even mad, because the space normally reserved for tables is taken up by a giant coffee bean vacuum called the Roasting Plant Javabot. You know you want it.

Owner Mike Caswell’s patented nerd machine sucks beans from an on-site roaster and into individual tubes, which hold the beans until you decide which brew you’d like. After you place your order (single roast or customized blend), the barista pushes a button to suck your beans out of the tube, through the grinder, and into your cup. It’s kind of like going through the drive through at the bank. But instead of money, you get what is, quite possibly, the freshest cup of coffee in New York. Just look at this crema. There’s no milk in there.

Roasting Plant has two locations–an original in the Lower East Side and a new, 24 hour location in the West Village–and coffee varies from $1.75 to $4. The location on the LES has no food to speak of. They offer free wireless, but no tables, and your chiropractor might be pissed if you sit in their backless benches for too long.

My visit to Roasting Plant marks the first time during this series that I’ve actually paid attention to what I was drinking. Yes, I’ve noticed if my coffee was bitter, watery or over-Splenda’d. But this coffee was a round, complex drink with layers and nuances that changed from first steam to last sip. If I’d had my computer, I wouldn’t have noticed any of this. So thank you, Roasting Plant, for not including tables in your design and allowing me to enjoy quality coffee.

And, you know what, I’m giving you credit for this cool graffiti I found in Alphabet City and this new pedestrian walk walk in the middle of Allan St. And also credit for ensuring that I didn’t have my computer when I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk and spilled coffee all over my arm. Can you imagine? Electronic disaster. Every now and then, it’s nice to unplug.

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