Sunday, November 12, 2006

   from Nick

Podcast #55 - NYC Got You SERVED

A shorter-than-normal show, but a definite eye-opener... and I certainly don't mean the political and tabloid jibber-jabber at the beginning. The highlight of this show is an illuminating call with Ken Nye, of Ninth Street Espresso in New York City, on the NY coffee scene, real estate, Martha Stewart, and the most bad-ass, ass-backwards way to grow a coffee business. FYI, I almost called this show "Our penises are small."

1 hour 14 minutes and 28 seconds - MP3 format, 34.1 MB

See the sidebar to the right for more information and how to subscribe or download.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

awesome! yeah...kenny's kickin' it hardcore. which is why i keep trekking out there week after week (and, yes, it's a trek...rather, pilgrimage). he's been saying it all along and i never thought the day would come. i've got photo evidence of the fact (although, seven items might not be quite accurate). check out the pirate t-shirts in two colors. shout out to the NSE crew...kenny, bob, edmond, brian, jess and aaron. thanks, also, to the Cho for recommending this place to my friend (actually around this time last year) ... i've been hooked ever since.

11/13/2006 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger MikeEFresh said...

This podcast blew my mine! No, not because Jay & Nick sampled my (unfortunately stale) Cuban coffee on the air. Ken Nye is my hero! My mind cannot wrap its head around the fact that he is in the most expensive city in North America, selling only 7 menu ietms, and still making enough money to stay in business!! This should be a wake-up call to everyone in the industry. We talked about doing it, we dreamt about, and Ken is actually doing it! Now, if I could only figure out how I can do it......

11/14/2006 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger AndyS said...

So very very cool, guys. I can't wait to visit 9th St again when I visit New Yawk again.

11/14/2006 08:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks again to Nick & Jay... the interview was a rip.
Hey Erwin, thanks for the correction. We actually have seven coffee items and three non coffee items on the menu. I forgot about the tea and steamed milk... hmmm, I wonder why I would have forgotten about that?
Rock on.

11/15/2006 04:44:00 AM  
Anonymous RichW said...

Great show... was doing numbers in my head while Ken was talking about midtown chains & was thinking more like, "wow, they need a $3K day almost every day..." and they Ken drops that some shops have done $5K mornings. That's just sick.

So, given their new friendship, how long before we see Martha Stewart branded coffee from Counter Culture?

Btw, I didn't read who was on the show at first. So when Nick picked up the phone and said simply, "Ken?", my first thought was, "He's calling Ken Fox out of the blue?? Wow, now THIS will be a killer show!!"

Would still like to hear that exchange ;-)

11/15/2006 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Richard Hartnell said...

A fricken mazing. Listened to this podcast while closing shop tonight and was practically cheering.

11/17/2006 11:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Alistair said...

We also have 7 coffee drinks on our menu, no sizes.

11/20/2006 01:06:00 AM  
Blogger S.Crane said...

yeah, i think some people at PF need to do a little research before they express so much disbelief. Vivace espresso has had dedicated drinks sizes and nothing larger than 12oz and no drip for, what, 20 years, i think.

Also, since it opened one year ago, Cafe Grumpy in NY has only ever had 8 and 12oz drinks (and 6oz capps) and has only ever had ten coffee items. And now, with the new Chelsea store, no drip and Clover coffee and an even smaller espresso menu to boot. So how about a shout out!

I commend ken for what he is doing and think he is headed in the right direction, but to act like he's the only guy in the whole industry, let alone NY, that is doing this discredits all of us.

Disappointing episode of PF.

11/25/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger onocoffee said...

As with any talent filled industry, there are plenty of egos (with their consummate chest puffing) to go around. In our industry, I see a plethora of dedicated craftsmen pushing this Third Wave Thing Of Ours to new heights on a daily basis. New and innovative approaches to coffee. This is a very exciting time to be in coffee.

Seems to me that those who are taking offense to 55 are doing so because of their egos. How can we say one moment that it's "all about the coffee" but the next whine about "how come my hardcore shop wasn't mentioned?" Suddenly, it becomes a "me and my shop" thing and the focus on coffee is lost.

What Ken and company are doing at Ninth Street Espresso is something that 99% of shops across cannot even fathom. The challenges of doing business in Manhattan are unlike anywhere else in North America. This is something to be celebrated and to post like petulant children because your ego was bruised because your coffee menu wasn't mentioned doesn't push us forward, it drags us down. It is the proverbial "crab mentality" rearing its' head.

And to say that PF doesn't give Cafe Grumpy a "shout out" is just sheer calumniation. Cafe Grumpy was recently "shouted out to" in PF51.

But I'll tell you what I am interested about:

I'd like to know how rocking twin Clovers (in place of drip) has been going at the Chelsea store.

- yes, a little industry bird told me because people are talking about what cool and innovative things shops are doing in our industry and it's definitely something I wanted to cover in a future podcast.

However, I will be straightforward with you: I am now reluctant to discuss that in the next podcast because the integrity of what we do may be at stake. is about celebrating coffee, the industry and, most importantly, the people of our industry.

We don't give "coverage" because of advertising or merely because people are "our friends." Nick and I do what we do because we genuinely enjoy interacting with passionate people. We discuss the things that most interest us and, hopefully, our listeners. We don't give "coverage" merely because someone complained about what they didn't like or because they "didn't get a shout out."

And now that you've whined that Grumpy didn't get a shout out (when it has in the past) diminishes what, legitimately, is something to discuss and celebrate (the twin Clovers in place of drip).

11/26/2006 06:12:00 AM  
Blogger S.Crane said...

well, i don't represent Cafe Grumpy, so what i say is only my opinion and not that of the Grumps.

I have two points and perhaps i didn't separate them well.

(1) I feel like Ken (not the PF crew) is neglecting acknowledgment of some of the other shops in NYC. Again, that is my own feeling, not Cafe Grumpy's. I can't speak for them. This is just how i feel about it. I certainly feel that Nick has done a lot for the people at Cafe Grumpy.

(2) I was put off by what i felt was an over-zealous reaction of the PF crew to Ken's pronouncement of dedicated drink sizes and reduced drink menu. It's not that i think that the excitement of that sort of thing is misplaced but rather that, given the context, 9th Street fits very well into the larger picture of specialty coffee. And to say that he's going places that Stumptown and Intelli aren't just sounds ridiculous to me. Sorry, that's just how i feel about it. My own personal opinion. Finally, when you say that "NY got served" but neglect to acknowledge that there is a shop in NY that already has dedicated drink sizes and a reduced menu, then clearly something was missed. You said, "nobody is bringing it as hard as that" I can see that others are--Vivace, Grumpy, Elysian, and others in other ways.

Just my own opinion as an ex-barista that has been in the biz for 10 years. Again, i don't speak for Grumpy. These are just my own thoughts. Cheers to Ken and Bob and the tight shop they run over there.

11/26/2006 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Dear Sam Crane,

Please don't listen to the podcast ever again.

Make your own podcast, with "shout outs" to all your peeps and homies... since we apparently failed to accomodate your personal whims... and your personal agenda.

To the doubters out there, remember two very important points:
#1. Jay and I both own shops. We are not just some coffee fan-boys. To acknowledge Ninth Street has nothing to do with being a shill, nor providing P.R.
#2. Nothing can be taken out of its context, lest its meaning or meaningfulness change. Ninth Street's menu or how they present themselves are relevant and noteworthy because of their context: being in Manhattan, NYC, and having the sales volume that they do. If they were serving 50 customers a day... well, they'd certainly have our support, but Podcast 55 wouldn't have gone the way it did.

And Sam, personally, methinks that neither Chris nor Caroline would particularly appreciate your apparent desire to create public contention and discord between shops. I most certainly don't, and wouldn't if I were them.

11/26/2006 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger onocoffee said...

S. Crane-
This will be my final commentary on this subject.

While you now claim that you "don't represent Cafe Grumpy," the fact that you are listed as the first contributor on Cafe Grumpy's blog ( tells otherwise. Perhaps you're too obsessed with your "own opinion" and how you "feel" about things to realize that you do indeed speak for and represent Grumpy.

Like it or not, you have spoken on behalf of Cafe Grumpy. Your diatribe about "your opinion" diminishes the hard work of great baristas like m'lissa and the others who have been making a name for Grumpy.

I'm amused at how convenient it is for you to sit back and make smug comments like: "Sorry, that's just how I feel about it. My own personal opinion" - as though you have no responsibility on what you have written.

Perhaps when you're ready to be a member of the industry and take responsibility for what you have written can we discuss the finer points of why Ken Nye and Ninth Street Espresso are leading our industry.

Hint: it has something to do with checking their egos at the door, sourcing great coffee and focusing on their customers.

11/27/2006 04:36:00 AM  
Blogger drew said...

ehhh... Northampton coffee has been doing only 8 and 12 oz lattes for 3 years now, Amherst for over a year...still, very wonderful to hear, that is exactly the type of attitude that needs to be replicated

1/08/2007 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

ahem, if we can briefly veer off in another direction, I was wondering if the fact that Ken was able to reduce his menu in this particularly difficult part of the market was because he had already established a presence and only then was able to narrow the scope of his business. As if he had cast a wide net but then somehow shrank it down to pick out only the "choice" fish. If he had started with the reduced menu could he have grown in the same way?

I just started listening. Good stuff on podcast, Nick.

3/08/2007 05:58:00 PM  
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