In the heart of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, a new cafe called BKSpeed is built upon the slow, steady growth of a loyal customer base.
Before recently opening on the ground floor of the new boutique hotel 42 Hotel, BKSpeed Coffee gained traction over the years inside the Williamsburg neighborhood haunt Fiction, a cafe and bar formerly known as the Flat in its more raucous days.
Current Fiction partner and BKSpeed Coffee Founder Michael Greenwald first introduced coffee to the Fiction space in 2015. The shop initially used beans from Brooklyn Roasting Company before Greenwald began roasting his own through the (now defunct) Regalia Roasting Collective, working with Reuben Villagomez of fellow Brooklyn business Paloma Craft Coffee.
Greenwald now maintains a toll-roasting relationship with Ithaca, New York-based Forty Weight Coffee Roasters for a variety of beans to fill the BKSpeed bags and hoppers inside Fiction, and in the new 42 Hotel digs.
Whereas Fiction offers a more lived-in feel — rumor has it that the bar’s 2011 2-group Synesso Cyncra is the oldest in operation in New York — the new BKSpeed hotel bar offers a decidedly more modern, sleeker vibe.
Adjacent to the hotel restaurant and an inviting lounge space, The BKSpeed bar features a white powder-coated La Marzocco Linea Classic S EE espresso machine that is complemented by a Mahlkonig E65S grinder for espresso, a Mahlkönig GH2 grinder for drip coffees and a Baratza Forte AP grinder for decaf.
“Both locations now serve BKSpeed Coffee, which tends toward that classic dark-chocolate flavor, rather than some of the fruitier, lighter, more modern takes on third wave that have emerged over the years,” Greenwald recently told Daily Coffee News.
With a recent rebranding, BKSpeed coffees are now packaged inside bags with artwork referencing a mural that has been popular with the Instagram crowd outside of Fiction for years.
Meanwhile, both through its marketing and in its approach to service, BKSpeed intends to focus squarely on its customers, which on any given day may include celebrities or prominent politicians alongside regular coffee drinkers.
“Its the every day customers that may be the most interesting,” Greenwald said. “Tech startup founders, drag performers, writers, teachers and even a convicted January 6th rioter are among the regular BKSpeed Coffee drinkers.”
With no immediate plans for more cafes or a dedicated wholesale roasting program, BKSpeed is building relationshisp with customers directly across the coffee bars and online.
Said Greenwald, “The focus for BKSpeed Coffee, from all branding and presentation viewpoints, is actually quite unique in the coffee world: It’s on the customer, not the product, and on what our customers are inspired to achieve once they’ve had their BKSpeed.”
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Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine.