Welcome to Bluestone Lane
photos by Daniel Gabrielson
"it’s the way in which we serve our coffee which makes it uniquely Australian." - Aaron Cook, Bluestone Lane Collective
On summer afternoons in New York City, a gal can find herself strolling through the village, stopping only for quaint boutiques and even more charming coffee shops. Enter, Bluestone Lane Collective, the café that recently stole my heart, not only for its delicious take on Australian coffee, but for the décor that will most likely inspire my next apartment.
I sat down with general manager, Aaron Cook, to talk Australian coffee and sip on some of the best espresso the area has to offer.
Name, Location, Occupation
Aaron Cook; 55 Greenwich Avenue; General Manager, Bluestone Lane Collective Café
Tell us the story behind Bluestone Lane
The whole idea was based on the lack of premium coffee in New York, and we thought there was a niche in the market. Four years ago it was desolate. In the time that I’ve come back, the movement has gone more to the “ma and pa's” as Americans call it—a more premium boutique style of as opposed to the chains. Obviously the chains have a big presence but there’s been a massive uptake in the smaller quality-driven stores.
How does the customer experience differ from other locations?
This is full table service, and our other stores are more get and go. The experience at the other two stores—you’re immersed in darker wood, old vintage Australian memorabilia from sporting teams, maps—it’s basically a distraction from everyday life. You walk out of your office and into the coffee store and you’re just emerged in something different. You’ll experience great customer service from our predominately Australian servers, who are more than happy to tell you about a flat white, which is a fairly new concept over here.
[Editor’s note: the most popular drink at Bluestone Lane may be a flat white, but the most popular question is “what is a flat white?” Cook explains “it’s a double shot of espresso with a textured milk. You texture it in a way that it’s kind of a velvety, silky texture as opposed to say a latte, which is more foamy—and we use less milk than a latte.”]
Our take on coffee is obviously very reflective of what you’d get in Australia. Even things like, our cappuccinos come with a chocolate dusting in Australia. No one does that here. Again, so simple, but it’s a point of difference. When people say “well how if your coffee different?” It’s not. We use beans that are grown in Colombia, Ethiopia, where everyone gets there beans from, but it’s the way in which we serve our coffee which makes it uniquely Australian.
What inspired the décor at the 55 Greenwich location?
We brought in an Australian designer. We pitched the concept to her that we want this location to be really inviting, engaging, relaxing. The other stores are more reflective of what you’d get in Melbourne. There’s alleyways, blue stones—that’s where the name is from—and it’s kind of a darker aesthetic.
This [location], we wanted people to relax and feel more bright—more beachy. That’s why you’ve got the plants, that greenery. The cushions—it’s more what you’d expect at a beach shack. We still want the premium experience but for you to feel homely, in a sense.
[Editor’s note: Here’s an “insider” tip: If you head into Bluestone Lane’s Greenwich location, be sure to explore beyond the main room. There’s a back patio and a quaint seating room just waiting to be discovered.]
What is the best part of owning a coffee shop?
The interaction with people. That’s a pretty cool lifestyle, from my perspective anyway.
What is your coffee order?
I’ve been changing it up a bit recently. I used to go with a piccolo—which is like a cortado. After that it was a flat white. But I’ve moved on from that. Recently I’ve been drinking just espresso, because that’s where you get the nuances and delicacies from the roast. It’s sometimes good to strip it all back. Go back to the espresso and see how the coffee is performing.
[Psst! One last tip, and trust me, it’s a good one. Bluestone Lane does an “Australian Iced Latte,” ie, a traditional American iced latte WITH ice cream. Intrigued yet?]
As told to Ellie Eckert on July 21st, 2014.