Today I worked what will be my last shift at Ost Café for a long time. I've never officially been an employee of Ost, but it feels like a place I can call home. I've done a lot of work in the coffee industry, but there are only actually four cafés I've ever been a regular barista at: Victrola, the now-defunct Lucky Dog in Seattle, Café Grumpy, and Jack's Coffee. But I feel like I should put Ost on that list, too.
I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. I only met the Osterizers because they had made the decision to use Intelligentsia coffee for their new store, and I was the man doing training for Intelligentsia. I did a training for them at Intelly's SoHo lab, and then another session on site at their 12th and Avenue A café.
I immediately took a liking to the folks who run this place. Alex, Aaron, Kat, and the people who work for them are all fantastic people. They are interesting, passionate, hard-working, and fun to be around. They know the perfect mixture of professionalism and friendliness that makes great coffee shops such wonderful things. And all the baristas I've worked with there — Steph, Dan, Michael, Anne, and the Jeffs — have been stellar.
I started pulling shifts at Ost on a lark, because I missed the honest hard work of pulling shots and doing dishes for 8 hours in a row (really!). I missed the cameraderie among the baristas, and the happy look on a customer's face when you give them a truly perfect cappuccino. After just a couple of shifts, I found myself going back just to see my friends. I always felt comfortable and welcome there.
I know the customers who frequent Ost must feel the same way, because the place has been an instant success. Not the kind of shop that relies on hype or internet chatter: it's the kind of place that people test out once and then immediately begin recommending to all their friends and neighbors.
Well, I'd like to generate my own little portion of hype and chatter for these folks. When people mention great cafés in New York City, there are a few that always get mentioned, and deservedly so. Café Grumpy, Ninth Street Espresso, Joe the Art of Coffee, and Gimme! Coffee are all wonderful and innovative companies that deserve to be right at the top of any discussion NYC coffee. I have friends and colleagues at all those stores. But I truly think that Ost needs to be included on that list of "first breath" places. The coffee is fantastic, the atmosphere is unique and lovely, and — and this is the most important part — the people are as nice as they come.
Thank you, Ost. It's been a pleasure to work with all of you. I'll be back someday soon to mess up your bar area while pulling shots and headbanging along to "Achilles' Last Stand," and then I will run across the street to Poppy's Deli for a turkey sandwich which I will then eat in the back room while looking at latfh.com.
Until then, the rest of you should check it out if you at all have the opportunity.