97 Fifth Ave
Look at a bag of Gorilla Coffee. Isn’t that just swell? We could even call it striking. In fact, I think we will.
This distinctive packaging is echoed in the company’s Park Slope coffeehouse. Strings of glowing red bulbs hang over the large front windows and door. The walls are red, too, with giant topographical maps pinned up. The motif is carried through to the tables as well: shiny red tops complimented by sturdy black, plastic chairs. One almost expects the White Stripes to be playing non-stop, but since they’re from Detroit instead of Brooklyn, they’re probably disqualified.
Thankfully, that’s where the motif ends. There are no red-and-black uniforms, and the bright white of all the Steve Jobs present at any given time provides a pleasant contrast to the dramatic color scheme.
The menu had all the usual espresso suspects. Since I was in a straight-up coffee mood, however, I decided to go with what they had brewed. Gorilla currently offers auto-drip coffee, but will soon be adding pour-overs to the menu. The barista who helped me (who was both knowledgeable and a clear indication that the shop’s management believes in the Cute Barista Principle) said that they were awaiting a “special bean.” I was tempted to ask if she was aware that a special bean was not required for a pour-over coffee, but I was so enthralled by the idea of a special bean that I let it go. What will this bean be? Why is it a secret? Will I call every day to see if it’s in yet? (Yes.) Did people go to extraordinary lengths to obtain these beans? Were lives lost? Are these blood beans? Is a pour-over better if blood beans are used? Can a blood bean be Fair Trade? (Maybe it depends on how yummy it is.) Or should it be called Fear Trade? (Ho ho that’s not funny at all. My apologies.)
Anyway, I was served a cup of Sumatran coffee, aka Gorilla Coffee’s KBQB. The tasting notes that the roaster provides are:
“New Leather, Fresh Tobacco, Cedar, Earth, Chocolate, White Grapefruit as it cools”
Fresh tobacco and cedar? Yeaaaah….not really.
The nose of it (with only about 20 seconds of cooling) was nonexistent. The flavor was a hoppy bitterness (with emphasis on the bitter) and touch of lemon-sour. After a couple minutes, it hadn’t changed much. I found myself wanting to add cream.
I stuck it out, though, and once it had cooled a couple more minutes, some complexity emerged. There was a mild, nutty nose now. The bitterness I had tasted before was now nowhere to be found. Instead the flavor was bright and smooth. The lemony sourness mellowed and notes of black licorice emerged. (I suppose this could be also called grapefruit, although I found the flavor a little more multi-faceted than that.) A hint of burnt caramel also found its way into the mix. I suspect that this roast would benefit from a French press treatment; it might yield a more concentrated and complex brew.
Altogether, good service, delicious-looking baked goods, decent atmosphere, and a good (not great) cup of coffee.
It definitely warrants a second visit. The espresso has to be tasted still, and the chocolate chip cookies looked absolutely decadent. I’ll just be sure to bring my laptop, so I don’t feel so out of place.