Parlor Coffee

A simple blackboard with "Parlor Coffee | Serving Daily | Back of Barber-shop" written in white block capitals.Walking along Brooklyn’s Havemeyer Street, on my way from Northerly Coffee to Gimme! Coffee, something caught my eye at the street’s northern end. It looked like an old-fashioned barbershop, but a sign in the window, plus an A-board outside, proclaimed it to be the home of Parlor Coffee. A little bell rang in the back of my mind. Hadn’t my friend, Greg, of CoffeeGuru App fame, told me about somewhere in the back of a barbershop? Intrigued, I headed inside.

Persons of Interest is the name of the barbershop in question and Parlor Coffee is indeed a lovely little coffee shop, tucked away at the back in what may have been an old storeroom. There’s room enough for a one-group Kees van der Westen Speedster espresso machine (plus a single grinder), serving single-origin coffee roasted in-house by Parlor. An unexpected bonus is that your coffee comes in a proper cup!

May 2017: I have just learned that Parlor Coffee has closed its location in Persons of Interest. With thanks to Nick for the heads up.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Walking along Brooklyn's Havemeyer Street, this caught my eye.
  • The concise and to-the-point A-board is to be commended.
  • However, the sign in the window aside, it doesn't look very promising. But hey, let's go in!
  • What's the worst that can happen? A random haircut, I guess! So, here we are at the back...
  • ... and look what we're found. This is definitely what we came for: coffee!
  • As coffee shops go, it's fairly small. This is the view from just inside the door...
  • ... while this is the view from the other side.
  • Despite the lack of size, there's still room for a retail shelf, selling Parlor's beans and some kit.
  • The menu is at the back, as concise as the coffee shop is small.
  • There is a solitary stool (out of shot) but otherwise, it's standing-room only at this little bar.
  • The centrepiece is this one-group Kees van der Westen Speedster, Vanessa at the helm.
  • Step one, weigh the beans. We're looking for 18.3 or 18.4 grams. Spot on!
  • Step two, tamp.
  • Step three, attach to the group head, and off we go! Placement of the cup is all important.
  • I love watching espresso extract, especially with a bottomless portafilter.
  • Things start off with three streams, but soon they look to coalesce..
  • ... into two...
  • ... which is how things stay for the 31 seconds of the extraction, timed by the stopwatch.
  • All done.
  • And here it is, my espresso in a classic black cup.
Walking along Brooklyn's Havemeyer Street, this caught my eye.1 The concise and to-the-point A-board is to be commended.2 However, the sign in the window aside, it doesn't look very promising. But hey, let's go in!3 What's the worst that can happen? A random haircut, I guess! So, here we are at the back...4 ... and look what we're found. This is definitely what we came for: coffee!5 As coffee shops go, it's fairly small. This is the view from just inside the door...6 ... while this is the view from the other side.7 Despite the lack of size, there's still room for a retail shelf, selling Parlor's beans and some kit.8 The menu is at the back, as concise as the coffee shop is small.9 There is a solitary stool (out of shot) but otherwise, it's standing-room only at this little bar.10 The centrepiece is this one-group Kees van der Westen Speedster, Vanessa at the helm.11 Step one, weigh the beans. We're looking for 18.3 or 18.4 grams. Spot on!12 Step two, tamp.13 Step three, attach to the group head, and off we go! Placement of the cup is all important.14 I love watching espresso extract, especially with a bottomless portafilter.15 Things start off with three streams, but soon they look to coalesce..16 ... into two...17 ... which is how things stay for the 31 seconds of the extraction, timed by the stopwatch.18 All done.19 And here it is, my espresso in a classic black cup.20
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From the outside, the Persons of Interest barbershop really doesn’t look like a speciality coffee shop and, had it not been for Parlor Coffee’s prominent A-board, I might have missed completely. This is because Parlor really is right at the back, unlike, for example, London’s Sharps Coffee Bar, which sits at the front of its barbershop, relegating the snipping to the back!

However, have faith, walk inside and head straight for the back, where a door in a glass partition leads into Parlor Coffee. It’s a small room, but surprisingly spacious, Parlor wisely forgoing any seating other than a solitary stool which you can borrow from the barista (although you can sit outside on the bench at the front of the barbershop if you like). Stool notwithstanding, it’s standing-room only in Parlor, a narrow bar occupying the right-hand wall opposite the counter, which is tucked away in the left-hand corner at the back. This, in turn, has just enough space for a striking Kees van der Westen Speedster, a make of espresso machine that’s extremely rare in the US (although Underline Coffee [coming soon to the Coffee Spot] in New York also has one).

Parlor roasts all its own coffee, the owner, Dillon Edwards, opening both coffee shop and roastery at the same time almost four years ago. If you’d like to visit the roastery, it’s over on Flushing Avenue, near the Brooklyn Roasting Company, and is open on Sundays and Mondays (12:00 – 16:00). The Kees van der Western, by the way, is also down to Dillon, who fell in love with their looks when he came across them in Berlin.

I was told all this by Vanessa, my barista, who hails from Chicago, although she’s been in New York for five years. It’s the sort of place where you really can’t help but talk with the barista, by the way. Parlor roasts a single single-origin at a time, changing when the lot runs out, usually every month or two, depending on its size. Retail bags are available to buy, or you can order them from Parlor’s website, where you can also see what Parlor’s roasting at the moment.

While I was there, a Honduran Nueva Esperanza was just coming to an end. At the time, I’d never had Honduran coffee, so I tried it as an espresso, although with hindsight, I would probably have preferred it in milk, finding it not quite to my taste. It was, however, very well made and was a very fruity coffee, which perhaps explains why I didn’t like it as much as I could have done. Not that this dampened the enjoyment of my visit & I’ll be sure to return to Parlor the next time I’m in Williamsburg.

84 HAVEMEYER STREET • BROOKLYN • NY 11211 • USA
http://parlorcoffee.com +1 718-218-9100
Monday 12:00 – 18:00 Roaster Parlor Coffee (espresso only)
Tuesday 12:00 – 18:00 Seating One stool (inside), Bench (outside)
Wednesday 12:00 – 18:00 Food No
Thursday 12:00 – 18:00 Service Counter
Friday 12:00 – 18:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 11:00 – 17:00 Wifi No
Sunday 11:00 – 17:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 9th February 2016

Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to New York City & Brooklyn for more great Coffee Spots. You can also see what my friend, Greg, of CoffeeGuru App, made of Parlor Coffee when he visited back in 2013.


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