03/04/14
Special To The Jewish Week
A Place To Worship Good Coffee

Kava Shteeble comes to Bed-Stuy.

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If you live in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and you’ve been jonesing for some quality brew, then your wait will soon come to an end: Kava Shteeble, which its owners describe as “a small, cozy coffee house,” will open on Ralph Avenue by mid-March. If the java turns out to be as good as its owners assert, the café would make a great addition to a neighborhood that’s underserved when it comes to coffee: currently, the most convenient spot to fuel up is a Dunkin’ Donuts.

“I’ve worked in this area for years, and I always wondered why there was no good coffee shop around,” said Yidi Brier, who is opening Kava Shteeble with business partner Shragie Schwartz. “So finally I thought: Why don’t we just open up our own?”

Kava Shteeble is yet another business in the line of recently opened hip Brooklyn Jewish establishments like the restaurant Mason & Mug and the gourmet sandwich pop-up Hassid + Hipster. Yiddish for “little coffee house,” the café’s owners are religious but hope to attract a wide slice of the neighborhood. Just to be safe, though, they’ll provide kosher milk for those who might want it. 

The shop will serve Crop to Cup beans, which it buys from the shop of the same name in Gowanus, and little else, Brier said. “We really want the focus to be on great coffee.”

A joe-lover himself, Brier said he didn’t discover good coffee until he became friendly with Taylor Mork, one of the owners of Crop to Cup; that shop sources its beans in developing nations where it ensures that all of the workers involved in harvesting and processing the coffee are paid a fair wage.

“There is a huge difference between high-quality, fresh-brewed coffee and just the normal stuff you find all over the place,” Brier said.

In addition to its emphasis on great coffee, Kava Shteeble hopes to distinguish itself through its tailor-made, custom-designed interior that the team built almost entirely out of salvaged materials. Brier and Schwartz are in real estate — they work for Brooklyn-based Pacific Management — and as such, they’re often around when neighborhood buildings get renovated before sale. A building renovation means a lot of wood going into the trash, most of it perfectly usable, Brier said.

“We took almost all the wood used in the coffee shop out of dumpsters,” he said. “This wood looks good and it would be a total waste to throw it out.”

Kava Shteeble is indeed handsome, its tan-and-brown hardwood floors and walls giving off a sort of rustic appeal that’s echoed by an original, refinished tin ceiling and one wall of warm red exposed brick. There’s not a ton of room inside, but Brier said he hopes the space will foster a sense of comfort.

“We want you to come here, hang out, do some work on your computer,” he said. “We want everybody to feel welcome.”

Nach Waxman, the founder of the legendary food and drink bookstore Kitchen Arts & Letters, has announced quietly that he’ll be transitioning from working for the store nearly full-time to focusing on selling the out-of-print books that have long been a kind of “off the menu” specialty.

Waxman has already transferred majority ownership of the Carnegie Hill store to its longtime manager, and he’s begun paying closer attention to customer requests for out-of-print titles.

“I started this store 30 years ago,” Waxman, 77, explained. “So it was a little bit of ‘been there, done that.’”

The Upper West Side is now home to By the Way, a bakery whose every offering is gluten-free, pareve and certified kosher.

The store, at Broadway and 90th street, is the second of owner Helene Godin’s two locations, the first of which she opened in Hastings-on-Hudson in 2011. Prior to becoming a full-time baker, Godin, 51, worked a high-profile job in media law. But a few years ago, she decided she’d had enough.

“I wanted to do something completely different,” said Godin of her decision to quit law.

She succeeded: Make sure to try By the Way’s moist, towering layer cakes in flavors such as raspberry-vanilla and coconut; its crispy chocolate chip cookies; its individual, perfect-with-a-cup-of-tea mini-cakes, available in apple, double-chocolate and chocolate chip and many more comforting, homey items.

editor@jewishweek.org

Last Update:

03/12/2014 - 17:51

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