Gorilla Coffee

October 14, 2009 | By | COMMENTS

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The big question, when we finally decided not to renew our lease here in Park Slope, was not: “How will we afford to move?” “How are we going to find an apartment as nice as this one in Manhattan?” “Will we get our security deposit back now that the apartment is caked in cat hair?”

No, those were certainly questions we asked, but the big question–the major hurdle to jump–was this: “How will we live without Gorilla Coffee?”

It happened rather gradually, at least for me.

A long-time devotee of Joe The Art of Coffee on Waverly in the West Village, I moved to Park Slope wary of the coffee shop on my street. Yes, at this point–with little more than 12 hours before we leave the Slope for good–I can disclose that we live on 5th Ave. just steps away from Gorilla. In the winter, living so close to such a stellar coffee shop proved a godsend: Craig would bundle up and go out for lattes while I’d scramble the eggs. It was a major convenience.

And though, at first, I found the interior of Gorilla to be industrial and drab–graying walls with maps of the world on them, long rows of desks that reminded me of the scene in Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” where kids at their school desks are dumped into a meat grinder–over time, I warmed up to the place. Yes, sometimes the music they play is ear-splittingly noxious (though it’s gotten better over time; and sometimes, it’s downright good), and sometimes you go to the bathroom and there are families of flies buzzing around your head, but that’s part of the charm.

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As you can see by that picture, patrons of Gorilla coffee are a techno-savvy bunch. My first week here in Brooklyn, I walked into Gorilla coffee one morning with my laptop thinking, as often happened in Manhattan, that the place would be pretty empty, but for the few stray bloggers. Wrong. Brooklyn is BUILT on bloggers and Gorilla coffee is where most of them (at least the ones in Park Slope) go. Tables are often mobbed and people fight over outlets.

But Gorilla coffee’s owners are smart enough to know who their clients are: they provide free wireless (ask a barista for the password) and change the daily coffee special to something weird and ironic.

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Not that Gorilla is just a haven for hipsters. Lurking in your midst, there at Gorilla, you may see Maggie Gyllenhall or her brother Jake and his girlfriend Reese (I’ve seen them there a few times); or, there might be an illustrator for The New Yorker. Check out this New Yorker cover they have hanging in their window:

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The baristas at Gorilla range from the super friendly (the guy in the hat in the picture below–actually, they’re all wearing hats in the picture below–but the one closest to where I’m standing gave me a free coffee as a farewell gift) to the extremely hostile (one grouchy guy, who no longer works there, never smiled. Never!) My favorite Gorilla barista, Summer, moved on from Gorilla and now works at Everyman Espresso on 13th Street. If you ever go there, tell her I say hi.

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The coffee at Gorilla may ruin you for all other coffee. It is so F-ing strong (forgive my language, it’s the only way to describe it) that you’ll either have a seizure or an instant bowel movement the first time you try it. (“That’s kind of gross,” says Craig. “I know,” I reply, “but it’s true!”)

I’m drinking the remnants of an iced latte right now. I bought it three hours ago–the ice has since melted and you’d think it’d be watery and mellow, but you’d be wrong. It’s as potent as the coffee you made this morning. This is intense, powerful coffee:

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And it’s really, really good. And we will miss it. I will miss going to Gorilla every day and blogging from those red tables while the guy across from me reads Nabokov’s “Pale Fire” and the guy next to me builds a blueprint for some futuristic building on his laptop. I will miss the cranberry orange scones–which have giant flecks of orange zest all along the top–and the cherry muffins I’d have as an afternoon snack. Mostly, though, I’ll miss having a coffee shop as an extension of my apartment.

We’re going to miss you, Gorilla Coffee. Thanks for a great three years.

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