LES Bites: Hester Street, Local Coffee, Starbucks Juice Plans

Orchard Street's original Roasting Plant.

A roundup of the neighborhood food news this week:

  • The Hester Street Fair is on hiatus this weekend due to the Sukkot holiday, but it returns Oct. 22 with the Grub Street Food Festival, which promises great vendors and more room than last year. (GrubStreet)
  • A detailed look at the city’s small-scale coffee shops, starring the LES’s Roasting Plant and Cafe Grumpy. (NYT)
  • Starbucks is moving into the pressed-juice business, and snatched up the long-time manager of  East Village pioneer Liquiteria to make it happen. (NYPost)
  • Wylie Dufresne of wd~50 gives a talk about “the new horizons in foodie culture and comics culture and where they often (and appetizingly) interconnect.” (NY ComicCon).

Roasting Plant Founder Saw Orchard Street as Incubator

After four years, one of the old kids on the block

One day way back in 2006, Mike Caswell spent several hours people-watching on the block of Orchard Street between Broome and Grand streets. The midtown real estate broker Caswell had hired to help him choose a site for the high-tech coffee shop he planned to open suggested a spot halfway down that block. At first, Caswell thought he was crazy.

“This street looked like a war zone,” Caswell says, sipping an Americano in a window seat of Roasting Plant, now in its fourth year. But his agent insisted that the Lower East Side was the place to find Caswell’s target demographic. So the industrial-engineer-turned-coffee-entrepreneur, who at that point had invested seven years developing his automated roasting and brewing system, agreed to check it out. From a table at 88 Orchard, one of the first new businesses to open on lower Orchard, he saw exactly the type of customers he believed would dig his 21st-century brewing system and premium product.

Good Morning!

Bring your rain gear with you this morning; showers will continue for the next few hours and then clear this afternoon with a high near 40℉. It will by gusty and cold this evening with a low of 14℉. Thanks to photographer Harvey Spears for sending along some more great shots from the Chinese Lunar New Year (and the photo above).  We’ll have more images to post later today. Also today, a profile of “industrial-engineer-turned-coffee-entrepreneur” Mike Caswell, who opened Roasting Plant coffee shop on Orchard in 2007.

Roasting Plant

A network of clear tubes instantaneously transplants raw beans to a roaster, resulting in a supremely fresh cup of java. A former Starbucks exec dreamed up the idea in his basement. The original store is on Orchard Street.

81 Orchard, near Broome

212-775-7755

Open Mon-Fri, 7am-6:30pm; Sat-Sun, 8am-6:30pm

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