Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Tale of Two Coffee Shops

A few years ago I read an article about how the number and growth rate of coffee shops in a city were one of the best markers of how well that city was doing economically. If that's true, I'd say Jersey City is doing quite well indeed considering the recent openings of Harry Street Coffee and The Grind Shop, two new coffee shops with very different styles.

Harry Street Coffee is a small, almost underground coffee shop on the corner of Duncan Ave and Bergen Ave near McGinley Square where cozy coffee shop standards like a giant arm chair, vintage pieces, and frames abound. They're keeping things simple with the majority of the space dedicated to seating, but they do have a nice and abundant display which I've seen include a delicious-looking carrot cake, loaf cake, muffins, and croissants. They also have baskets of fruit on offer and have packaged snacks like granola and Sarabeth jam for purchase along with a wide variety of bottled drinks like Pellegrino, Izze, and more. They serve a variety of teas and the coffee is excitingly inexpensive ($1.25 for a small drip). While they don't have a full scale espresso machine (at least not one I saw) they seem able to make specialty drinks upon request. The vibe is decidedly social with groups of friends gathering to chat and while the business is very clearly quite new and in development, it already feels like it's becoming the new neighborhood hang-out spot.

The Grind Shop, located on the corner of Communipaw and Pacific Avenue in Bergen-Lafayette, is also relatively new having opened in December. It's a well-sized, bright space with a simple and modern aesthetic that is welcoming but also gives one the sense of efficiency. They've focused on providing high quality coffee (La Colombe) and sourcing well-known names for their food like Balthazar and the extremely popular Doughnut Plant, making The Grind Shop the only place in Jersey City and in fact, I think all of New Jersey to carry them. Prices are in line with most higher end coffee shops, around $3-$6 dollars, and the people behind the counter certainly know what they're doing. It's a relatively quiet environment although it can get a bit crowded in the mornings as the locals pile in for their morning fix. It's been well-supported by the local community and a lot of people seem to pop-in just for a quick hello, emphasizing the place The Grind Shop has already made for itself.

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