Wouldn’t be caught dead with a “latte” from Starbucks or a Coolata from Dunkin Donuts? Well, you haven’t reached the summit of coffee snobbery until you’ve had the self-proclaimed “ultimate” cup of coffee, expertly prepared by computers and pneumatic tubes at the Lower East Side’s Roasting Plant. Since opening last spring, business has been hopping at the sleek Orchard Street café; coffee aficionados are drawn back as much for the fresh coffee as for the experience of seeing it made.
And here, fresh means fresh; at Roasting Plant, each cup is brewed on demand. Upon placing your order – perhaps a medium “Red Eye” with Ethiopian Harrar Longberry with a shot of Sumatra Mandheling – the precise amount of beans are suctioned up through overhead pipes to be brewed on demand. At no time are the beans handled by filthy, clumsy human hands. And during the day, beans are periodically vacuumed out of bins and whisked through the pipes to the in-store roaster; about 15 minutes later they’re sent to the bins to await their future in your refined palate.
Roasting Plant was started by Mike Caswell, an industrial engineer who adapted the machinery from a Swiss model. A choice of six single-origin beans can be blended to order; you can also splurge on a “flight” of different brews, each one designated by a labeled napkin and accompanied by a cup of water to cleanse the palate between sips. Have you tasted the Roasting Plant’s fresh brew yet? Is it really ultimate? (Watch a video of the process here.)