The roaster itself is strangely compact at Roasting Plant Coffee

When I was in California’s Silicon Valley not too long ago, I couldn’t help but notice that many of the coffee bars had their own roasters – blackened and ancient looking apparati whose flues snaked across ceilings. And, without getting too analytical, I’d have to say the coffee tasted much better as a result.

Why not roast coffee on the same premises on which it is brewed? Local coffee bar owners have been talking about it for some time now, but few have moved to effectuate the idea. The usual reason offered is simply that there’s no room for hulking roasters in the tiny coffee bars of Manhattan. But they all realize that adding roasting to their repertoire of techniques couldn’t help but enhance their reputations and improve their coffee.

The awesome Bodum coffee mug

Now along comes Roasting Plant Coffee, a new Manhattan coffee bar that eschews the woody, cushioned, counter-culture ambiance of most coffee bars. In fact, the premises looks downright corporate and slick, as if the place had been transplanted from the Mall of America. Long glass cylinders plastered on one wall display beans from ten international sources (Ethiopia, Sumatra, Kenya, India, Colombia, etc.) in their roasted and unroasted state. Inset in the circular counter, inside which the coffee is brewed, are glass cases that display pastries and chocolates.

The brewed coffee is on the expensive side, but then you’re paying for the gimmick. Coffee is served for on-premises consumption in clear Bodum mugs that insulate your hands from the heat in a space-age fashion with a cushion of air between the layers of the cup. Clearly, the interior designer was thinking of a coffee bar in a space station, rather the venerable institutions frequented by Boswell and Dr. Johnson. Hey, the coffee’s good. But will this roasting thing catch on? 75 Greenwich Avenue, 212-775-7755 


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