Nigel Worth of Filter Espresso Makers in Brooklyn, NY: The Sprudge Interview
The success of Brooklyn’s Drip Coffee Makers is refreshingly familiar. Drip, a love work by Nigel Price, a more than ten year old veteran of the New York coffee scene, started life last year as a mobile cart that focused exclusively on hand-brewed pourable coffee and was featured here as part of our Build-Outs of Summer series. In a world where most cafes were moving away from manual brewing and towards automation, and multi-roaster cafes shrinking their offer sheet – albeit not entirely abandoning the concept of roasting yourself – Price and Drip beat him Electricity. It was a risky move in the highly competitive New York coffee scene, where high rental rates and a plethora of top notch coffee shops can make it difficult for any new business to make bets. But the move has paid off.
And now, just a short year after the car was parked in various locations in Brooklyn, the wheels are off. Drip Coffee Makers has a stationary home in Bushwick.
To learn more about the space, the move from mobile shopping carts to brick-and-mortar retail, and adding espresso to the shop’s menu, Sprudge employee Jeremy Hernandez visited the new Drip Coffee Makers to speak to Price.
This interview has been slightly edited and condensed for the sake of clarity.
Talk to me about your transition from a cart to a stationary business.
The car was originally only intended to be a tool for the proof of concept and to build up the brand a little. Once we were inundated with pop-up requests and catering chores, we had to quickly build a business model. But without the car, I would never have been able to generate the additional capital so quickly to start the conversation about opening a physical location.
How did you find this room?
As with so much drip, it was a coincidence! I was leaving an art studio in Bushwick and walking past the room when a realtor closed the room after showing it off. After a short conversation and brief instructions, I was convinced that this was my place.
How is the neighborhood
A beautiful microcosm of New York City. Literally every area of life comes through the doors every day and I can make them coffee and take a look through the lens where they see the world. And with all the turmoil and recovery our country is currently experiencing, I sometimes feel like I should pay them to have coffee with me.
Do you ever miss the car?
Every day! So much of my current business model was nurtured behind this car. In particular, to design the layout according to the customer experience, so that I can get involved with their needs and / or foresee them without interrupting the workflow. During a guest interaction, I never have to look away or turn my back on a guest. We are fully engaged from entering the store until it disappears.
What equipment do you work on in space?
My pourable bar consists of 4 Kinto Slow Coffee drippers on Hario scales and a Mahlkönig EK43S. On the espresso bar there is a matt black La Marzocco Strada AV / ABR (Auto-Volumetric / Auto Brew Ratio) and two matching Mahlkönig K30 grinders.
Why did you make these decisions?
The pour over bar is a complete rip off of some of the Japanese shops that I love. I thought it would be hard to sell, get people to slow down for that cup of coffee, which takes about the same time as making a latte, but it was amazing to see the diners evolve. Another rip-off was the espresso bar that I “borrowed” from my time at Partners Coffee last year, especially at the Bushwick location. I’ve leaned on a Slayer because they’re sexy as hell, but the Strada is for sure the best machine I’ve worked on in the past decade – and I’ve had coffee.
Are there any other things you would like to add in the coming months?
I am waiting for my cold tower of drops. The cold brew is good, but cold drop is illmatic!
Which roasters do you serve and why?
Black and white roasters are my anchor just because amazing types of coffee are constantly being introduced with different processes and just as important is the consistency from bag to bag, from cup to cup. But we’re essentially a multi-roaster shop, so I always have six to eight different roasters on the shelves and on the top.
What were some of your favorite coffees?
Brandywine (Delaware), Cooperative (NC), Methodical (SC), Monogram (Calgary), Little Wolf (MA), there are so many that I could easily add a dozen names to this list.
How has the community’s support felt for you as a black business owner over the past few weeks? Talk to us about this experience in your own words.
I have to be honest, at first I didn’t quite embrace the idea of being a “black” cafe when these lists first came into circulation. I didn’t want what I found to be charity, or worse, a place for people who want to buy a few cups of coffee to feel like they’ve done their part in fighting systemic racism in this country. What happened quickly, however, was that the shop became an even larger hub for dialogues and conversations and there was an opportunity to acquire new regular customers. Acquiring customers can be extremely costly, but getting guests in the door is a breeze (also definitely Google “cake plaster”) compared to giving them a reason to come back. Ultimately, we try to create a community that is about coffee, not the other way around, and that really resonates with people.
Jeremy Hernandez (@thejetboatadventurer) is a freelance journalist and photographer based out of Brooklyn. Read more about Jeremy Hernandez for Sprudge.
July 6, 2020