Though we'd trekked over 3-foot-high snowdrifts to get inside, one glance around Blue Bottle's Brooklyn outpost and we felt right at home. Multiple slow-dripper setup? Check. Chemistry-set iced coffee brewers? Of course. Bearded dude in tight Killers T-shirt and trucker hat? Well, that would have made us feel at home in 2005, but he was there so we'll count it. You get the idea: Blue Bottle East has a very West Coast vibe.
Bien Dobui (major S.F. street cred with a Lincoln High diploma) moved to New York for college and was glad to land a gig with her hometown coffee favorite. She told us that there are "lots" of former Bay Area Blue Bottle employees now at the Brooklyn operation, including head roaster Thomas Doyle, who moved out from Oakland. According to Dobui, Blue Bottle's 10-month-old facility here in Williamsburg is slowly ramping up production, currently roasting roughly 500 pounds of beans each week (compare that to the 6,000 pounds Blue Bottle roasts per week in Oakland).
Sarah Cox, yet another San Francisco expat (formerly of Dynamo Donut), helms a new in-house pastry operation. Her signature item is the Brooklyn Bootleg S'more, made with local moonshine from Kings County Distillery (okay, so we can't get that here). Cox is also developing biscuit sandwiches similar to the ones Dynamo has collaborated on with 24th Street neighbor Pal's Takeaway.
On a recent blustery Thursday afternoon, Blue Bottle East was packed with a mix of locals sipping Bella Donovan drip like it was already old hat, while a contingent of Italian tourists took photos of the vintage Probat roaster with the kind of elation usually reserved for the Statue of Liberty. Perhaps most telling about Blue Bottle's early Gotham success was the reaction we got from a barista at Gimme, a trendy coffee spot in Manhattan's überhip Nolita neighborhood. When we mentioned our visit to Blue Bottle, she raised her eyebrow and rolled her eyes like she was hearing about the new prom queen for the umpteenth time. Welcome to coffee cattiness New York.
Blue Bottle East: 160 Berry (at N. Fifth St.), Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-387-4160.