At Hudson Yards, Coffee Sellers Will Grind It Out – Wall Street Journal

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At Hudson Yards, Coffee Sellers Will Grind It Out - Wall Street Journal

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An employee of the Blue Bottle coffee shop trains on Wednesday before the retail complex opens at 20 Hudson Yards on Friday.

An employee of the Blue Bottle coffee shop trains on Wednesday before the retail complex opens at 20 Hudson Yards on Friday.


Photo:

Byron Smith for The Wall Street Journal

In hyper-caffeinated New York City, coffee drinkers never have to venture far for a cup. But at Hudson Yards—the mega development on Manhattan’s far West Side that opens Friday—they may be overwhelmed by the possibilities.

Think coffee in every possible iteration, from drip to pour-over, single-origin to exclusive blends. And it comes courtesy of not just java specialists, but also stores that focus on apparel or other items. Even a fish market has a barista on hand.

In all, the $25 billion mixed-use complex will feature at least 20 places to grab a cup of joe, with many clustered in the vertical shopping center that is seen as one of Hudson Yards’ main draws.

The sellers range from coffee-centric chains such as Blue Bottle Coffee and Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee to bakeries that put almost as much emphasis on their coffee as their pies and pastries.

Other retailers joining the java bandwagon include some unlikely ones. Muji, the Japan-based chain that sells clothing household goods and apparel, will be serving coffee. And so will Citarella, the gourmet market especially known for fish.

The interior of the Queensyard coffee shop.

The interior of the Queensyard coffee shop.

Even Van Leeuwen, the ice-cream specialist, plans to offer a shake made with cold-brew coffee sourced from Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters, a Brooklyn-based company.

The coffee confluence reflects the reality of life in New York City, where the beverage, in all its many iterations, isn’t just expected. It is practically demanded, Hudson Yards officials say. “We wanted to make sure there were a multitude of choices, just like you would find in any neighborhood,” said Kevin Stuessi, vice president at Related Cos., one of Hudson Yards’s developers.

In New York City, shops specializing in coffee—and to a lesser extent, tea—are flourishing. In 2018, the city counted 3,430 such shops, according to a study from the personal-finance website WalletHub, based on data derived from

Yelp
.

That is an increase of nearly 400 shops since 2016, WalletHub said.

The Vessel, a climbable 15-story sculpture, can be seen from the interior of 20 Hudson Yards on Wednesday.

The Vessel, a climbable 15-story sculpture, can be seen from the interior of 20 Hudson Yards on Wednesday.

The idea of having so many coffee offerings in one shopping location goes against the traditional retail logic, experts say. Typically, merchants aim for a degree of exclusivity to boost their chances for success.

The coffee purveyors at Hudson Yards say they can distinguish themselves from each other by virtue of their different offerings or brewing techniques.

In the case of Jack’s Stir Brew, that means java made with its proprietary “stir” method, where grounds are agitated in a way that removes the acidity some coffee drinkers don’t like, according to Rob Friedlander, the chain’s chief marketing officer. Jack’s also tries to separate itself from the pack with its food offerings—namely a focus on vegan baked goods, he said.

“We aren’t terribly concerned” about the competition, Mr. Friedlander added.

Several sellers at Hudson Yards are playing up harder-to-find coffees, often with distinctive flavors. At Bouchon Bakery, the chain created by chef Thomas Keller, a coffee from Peru is being served. It is billed as a “medium-light roast with notes of marzipan and dried apricot.”

For all the choices at Hudson Yards, there is one thing that coffee drinkers won’t find: a

Starbucks

location.

Pastries available at the Queensyard coffee shop.

Pastries available at the Queensyard coffee shop.

The Seattle-based chain that helped put high-end coffee on the map already is represented in the area surrounding Hudson Yards, Mr. Stuessi noted. “It was about differentiating ourselves,” he said.

Starbucks didn’t respond to a request for comment about Hudson Yards.

Write to Charles Passy at cpassy@wsj.com

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