Farm Direct Artisan Espresso
Becoming enamoured with Devoción coffee starts the minute you enter the Williamsburg Roastery. Design wise, Devoción is a very exciting place to check out and we highly recommend it to anyone in New York. It's the type of coffee shop gem you can only hope to come by when looking for good espresso."Built out of a former warehouse, 69 Grand Street is an industrial brick-building dating back to the days when this neighborhood was a working waterfront district. We’ve retained a lot of the building’s history, reclaiming wood and showcasing the bare brick and steel beams of the original structure. But we’ve also made significant changes to give it new life and meaning as the best coffee shop in 21st century Williamsburg," their website states. To begin, you enter through large glass doors that lead you down a dimly lit, narrow corridor with broad factory windows showcasing their bean roaster at work. Once through, you are immediately hit by their expansive and impressive lush green wall while light floods over a large seating area from the gaping skylight above. The vertically climbing green wall roots over 150 coffee plants originating from Colombia as it reaches two storeys to the glass office above; all of which is framed with extoic wood panelling.
There's a casual and comfortable atmosphere with loads of seating from the rich mahogany leather sofas surrounded by studded trimmed ottomans, wood and cast-iron chests and a large Oriental area rug. You can also hangout at any of the numerous wooden bistro tables or along the industrial bar with overhanging vintage pendants. It's a refined industrial space with large black I-beams juxtaposed against a white finished ceiling. It feels clean without having to see all the dust and mechanical above like most industrial-inspired places.
Bright yellow splashes come from the posters framed on the wall or drinking mugs found all around the shop, reminding us of the vibrancy of the South American spirit. The intent is to give customers the experience of being guests at a 'country estancia' (landed estate). The coffee shop is also multifaceted, hosting cultural events including music shows and art installations.
Unlike nearly every other coffee shop in North America, patrons are stationed at tables or couches drinking their coffees in the yellow 'for-here' mugs: there are abnormally few paper cups in sight. This attitude is exemplary of the foundational beliefs Devoción is built on. Described as the world's only exclusively "Farm to Cup" bean roster, this through-and-through Colombiano enterprise is committed to maintaining the ecology of the land their beans come from and fortifying workers from their country who have endured decades of perilous (and notorious) conflict. The growing coffee enterprise has established social and environmental programs throughout the vast regions of Colombia, and the founders publish sustainability reports they encourage coffee consumers to read.
Devoción is where we first learned that the coffee "bean" is actually the pit (or seed) of a coffee tree cherry. Partners native to the Colombiano region personally seek out coffee tree farmers within the untamed areas of the Amazonian rainforest, including even the most inaccessible areas. They then purchase these red and yellow "coffee" berries at above Fair Trade prices. After a state known as parchment, the green seeds are dry milled and hand-sorted in Bogotá, then shipped directly to Williamsburg where you can watch them roast through the corridor's windows.
"Behind the roasting room is our laboratorio where we test-roast samples, cup and taste them, and create the specific guidelines for the roasts and blends that we’ll execute and package in the main roaster room." Devoción states.
While the coffee is certainly exceptional enough to single-handedly carry Devoción on its own (there are no superfluously flavoured lattes or gluttonous toppings), the urbanite café is also known for its fresh baked croissants. The coffee bar is made up of white shaker cabinets and vintage metal pulls. Glass cabinets house various shapes of empty brown bottles. A friend native to Brooklyn, orders the chocolate croissant every morning we stopped in, once even chasing down an employee carrying a fresh batch out from behind kitchen doors. There are also plenty other cookies, bars, breads, and muffins to pair with your morning coffee and yes, baked right in-house.
Akin to every other coffee shop in Williamsburg, Saturday and Sunday are religiously chaotic. The lines are long and heads bob up and over each other seeking a glimpse of what baked-goods are still available. But at this Colombian café, the staff remain calm. They are consistently jovial and informative, but concise and efficient: Devoción staff always seem willing and able to greet you with a collected smile despite the heavily populated line glaring up from behind you.
Once sitting down with your espresso, the café (perhaps intentionally) seems a world away. Devoción is the opposite of what New York is known for; it's a welcome oasis from the rat-race and concrete jungle that can be Manhattan. While they don't shut out those who need a calm place to do some work on their laptops, Devoción still remains tranquil. In a place where relaxation takes over, there feels no need to scroll through your phone for the umpteenth time. A welcome moment exists, reminding us to stop, sit down, chat with friends, or read a paper cover-to-cover.
A lasting highlight: hung each morning on the wall for coffee drinkers to share are three fresh copies of the day's New York Times. A charming reminder of where you sit, and that you haven't just yet escaped to beautiful Colombia -- although they do have another location there. Next up...Bogotá!