Communing with a coffee space there’s always the chance of a cultural bellwether. Let me explain. Before one actually receives in hand a coffee from an establishment; be it from a coffee within the boroughs of New York City, the streets of Los Angeles, or the rues of Paris, the embellishments of a surrounding can make the actual imbibing of an environment rise to the status of a cultural event. In Midtown, Ground Central is such, and as such, inspires with a primal ethos voiced by its owner, Etienne Wiik, “We are not selling coffee, we are selling an experience.”
The street takes on becoming apart of the interior design thanks to Australian artist Heesco. His hand drawn scenes are a physical and cultural porter.
Within Ground Central the horizontal walls actually lead you through the space and a closer look at the scenes, pictorially orientate you to an iconic character – New York City.
While waiting for the double service of food and coffee, I felt music. A closer tuning in to the sound, I hear music. James’ Brown, ‘The Payback’ was playing.
Instantly, I felt like the soul of that double album was a bellwether of a full cultural experience, which later led to other rock god cameos: The Rolling Stones and The Black Keys.
It feels like rock-and-roll because it is rock-and-roll. In the back, a black room with black leather couches and floor lamps that are human tall are all mitigated by wallpaper with the kind of stenciling whose target is your heart.
This is a room that brings back one of the historic functions of a coffee shop – to linger, to be, to get lost during the quintessential essence of an idyllic coffee break.
“The idea was to create an experience that was unique to the coffee culture… a little rock and roll, a little downtown, but comfortable,” said Josh Held, Ground Central’s designer.
Spoiler Alert! Start with a cortado, and close the night with a coffee mojito.
Here, my cortado arrived minus the exterior detail of a handle. Surprisingly, this slight difference made the nuance of a ritualistic habit feel like a new pleasure, all because its experienced was perceived with the warming of both my hands staying off an evening chill.
Little did I know that the onset of a [mint] down was about to occur on my senses, as I experienced the iced mint coffee mojito, a level of cool in glass and style, fit for an after hours dial-in of affordable luxury.
Paired with coffee, food finds a most suitable partner here. An evening with this thoughtful menu of sweet and savory items was wedded bliss in the after dusk hours. From the French donut, which I soon devoured and you will too after tasting a first bite into its decadent existence, to the tapas style treats including marinated anchovies which this vegetarian had to try – there was nothing left to be desired.
And, all this, with La Colombe’s Classic coffee and Workshop Blends chauffeuring us through additional coffee methods: cold brew, pour over, and even Bee House prepared by manager, Artha Blaiz.
Cue the happy ending, because Midtown’s coffee culture is on its way to it.