A thin, bright slice of a café near the edge of Little Italy, Happy Bones (394 Broome Street; 212-673-3754) is the by-default New Zealand entrant of the New York coffee scene. Happy Bones was founded by two artistic types (see a theme here?): New Zealander Luke Harwood, who previously co-founded Stolen Girlfriends Club, a boutique fashion brand; and artist Jason Woodside. The pair originally launched their shop in 2012 from the back of a Bond Street retail boutique. Now, along with New Zealand power IT couple Craig Nevill-Manning (Google’s engineering director in New York) and wife Kirsten (previously of Facebook and Google), they bring you this joyous Bones.
The baked goods are from Ovenly, the tea is from Bellocq (to save you a trip to Greenpoint), which might give you an idea of the quality of the coffee.
Better yet, stop by, as we did, and ask a few questions….
What’s the origin of the name Happy Bones?
Inspiration is fundamental — we want to give you what you need for your day. And a great cup of coffee makes you happy, right to your bones.
How did you get started in the coffee industry?
Luke and Jason met through surfing, which they still do on a regular basis. They met Kirsten and Craig through the small but active New Zealand community in New York. While we knew what we wanted to achieve, we needed help with the details of beans, roasting, and training. We’re very lucky that Counter Culture has their training center on the next block, and Park Brannen, who just won the Big Eastern Barista Championship, has been a critical part of getting to a high standard and staying there.
Tell us about the concept for the shop and your long-term goals.
We love great coffee — not just because it tastes good, but because it inspires us to be more creative. New York is a place where creativity thrives, and we want to contribute to that — with the quality of the coffee, the design of the store, the art on the walls, the books and magazines. We want you to be excited about your day and leave with the germ of a great new idea to bring to life in the city.
There has been a minor coffee wave from Australia in NYC recently, but not so much from New Zealand. What is unique about the coffee culture in New Zealand?
Actually, three of us (Luke, Kirsten and Craig) are New Zealanders, and Jason’s wife Amy is a New Zealander. In New Zealand, making a great espresso or flat white is a prized skill, and baristas are dedicated and admired. But great New Zealand cafés are about more than coffee — they’re places to get inspired and energized, with magazines you haven’t seen before, and challenging art on the walls. We wanted to bring that same inspiration to New York City, as a place to recharge your creativity before heading back out on the street.
How would you compare the New Zealand coffee drinker to those of the U.S.?
New Zealanders are picky when it comes to coffee. We like our coffee in real cups, and we like to drink it on the spot, chatting to the barista. You might think, “That’s all very well in a laid-back South Pacific country like New Zealand, but it doesn’t work in mile-a-minute New York.” But we believe coffee is worth pausing for — to let your mind wander briefly before plunging back into Manhattan. If you don’t have time to drink your coffee in the store, we have artwork on our cups so you can take the inspiration with you.
Anything you’d like to add?
Coffee mavens in New York are beginning to get familiar with the “flat white,” but it probably bears explaining. Invented in New Zealand and Australia, we think it’s the perfect balance of textured milk (not fluffy foam) and a ristretto [less water, so more concentrated] espresso shot.
It’s smaller than a latte, which means you really taste the espresso. The best way to understand a flat white, though, is to come in, and we’ll make you one!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 3, 2014