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Menu Talk with Pat and Bret

Café Grumpy co-founder Caroline Bell traces her path to becoming a coffee expert

Retail trade kept the business afloat as the pandemic closed coffeehouses


Caroline Bell co-founded Café Grumpy in 2005 in the Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood of Greenpoint, partly because she was an office worker who was having trouble finding a decent cup of coffee nearby.

“I’m like, how hard can it be to make a good cup of coffee?” she said.

One cup of coffee, or a decent pot of coffee, might not be that hard, but Bell soon found herself immersed in a world of roasting techniques and green coffee examination, managing supply chain issues and keeping employees happy.

And she ended up being a pioneer, offering some of the first single-origin coffees in New York, continuously serving some of the best coffee in the city, and developing a robust retail business that has helped see the company through the pandemic.

There are now 10 Café Grumpy locations with their signature frowning coffee bean logo, in Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as one location in Coral Gables, Fla, and another in the Whole Foods Market in Weehawken, N.J.

Bell recently discussed her journey over coffee in the recently reopened Café Grumpy location in the Market Line, the underground section of the Essex Market food hall on New York City’s Lower East Side.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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