G&B Coffee officially opened last week at Grand Central Market, a sizable stand that greets you if you enter from the Hill Street side of the market, maybe fresh off a ride down Angels Flight, maybe on your way to a courthouse to fulfill your duties as a juror, or, arguably worse, a lawyer. In either case, at least you now have a pretty great place to stop by for coffee. Because we could always use a little more caffeine.
If you missed their introduction during their pop-up at SQIRL, the “G” is Kyle Glanville and the “B” is Charles Babinski, both former Intelligentsia employees, both with impressive credentials: Glanville was the 2008 United States Barista Champion, and Babinksi placed second this year in the same competition. The Grand Central Market location is G&B Coffee's first; assuming all goes as planned, a second spot on Larchmont Boulevard will open later this month.
G&B Coffee at Grand Central Market is dominated by a large standing counter, which eventually will wrap around the entire space. If this setup reminds you more of a bar and less a traditional coffee shop, well, that's sort of the point.
“The bar style gives people a choice to be part of the bar or to grab a drink and go,” Babinski says. “Ideally, we would just love to have a space that invited people naturally to just belly up to the bar.” Thus you can walk up to the counter, put in your order, hang out and, in all likelihood, find yourself having a nice conversation with folks right next to you at the counter, just as you might at a bar. Alternatively, you can slide your drink over and quietly nurse it for a bit while you consider developments in queuing theory. As you might at a bar.
Coffee from Ritual Coffee Roasters and 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters were featured recently, though the coffees will rotate as often as Glanville and Babsinki find ones they like. On any given day, you'll have your pick of pour-over coffee, plus espresso-based drinks — including terrific milkshakes — with shots pulled from the La Marzocco. One nice touch: Espressos currently are served with a sparkling white tea that functions both as primer and cleanser.
“We do bright, clean espressos that have a little more acidity,” Babinski says, “So complementing it with flavors will prepare people for the experience, to get people out of the zone out of what they might expect out of an espresso.”
Croissants and other pastries come courtesy of Pete the Baker, whose breads were previously found at the now-closed Storefront Deli. Teas are from Red Blossom and Kilogram, and Babinski says a selection of excellent chocolate bars, as well as hot chocolates and mochas, are coming soon. Also coming soon: Public cuppings and brewing classes.
As for the Larchmont location, it may or may not look and feel like the Grand Central Market one, depending on a lot of things: How that space interacts with the neighborhood, how customers take to the coffee.
Regardless, their goal at both locations is to make coffee “joyful,” to borrow from Babinski, and to make all of their offerings, from coffees to teas to chocolates, “immediately appreciable.” Show, rather than tell, in other words. In which case, just drink their milkshake. You'll appreciate it. Immediately.
G&B Coffee at Grand Central Market is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. And follow the author on Twitter, too.