Spent an hour or so tonight at the newly opened Aroma Coffee Bar, at the corner of Houston and Greene. One pre-opening piece in the press described this as the Starbucks of Israel, but that really does this place a disservice -- it could not be more un-Starbucks-like. The decor is bright and modern, with an emphasis on black and red. The menu includes a full complement of coffee drinks, but also freshly prepared meals -- mostly sandwiches and other light offerings -- 24 hours a day.
I started with a frozen coffee drink, which was a mistake: I guess it was good for what it was, but it was in the frappucino family of coffee drinks -- really frozen coffee desserts -- which I'm not really into. But when Erez, the young Israeli barrista, offered to make me a capuccino, I discovered what this place really is about: real coffee beautifully presented. Erez produced a magnificant work of art. The capuccino was so beautiful, I didn't want to drink it. Truly. But most people do not go to a coffee bar to look at the drinks, so I had to destroy Erez's creation and actually drink it. It was a wonderful capuccino.
Before leaving, after spending an hour chatting with many of the employees -- most of whom are here temporarily from Israel to get this place off the ground -- my friend and I split an oj. Erez told us that it was not fresh squeezed, but that it was very good. This may have been the best oj I've ever had. And while Erez may have been technically correct that it was not fresh squeezed on the premises, some supplier had fresh squeezed that OJ, probably that very day.
Prices are not cheap (are there any cheap coffee bars?). But there is some value. For example, the menu lists a "power breakfast" for $8.50, which the menu describes as two eggs, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, toast and cream cheese (or something along those lines). I noted to my friend that it seamed pretty pricy, but shortly thereafter we saw the power breakfast served to a customer and it was a huge plate of food. And like all of the menu items (I think), it's available 24 hours a day.
We asked about wifi and were told that they expect it to be up and running tomorrow. They told us that it will be free.
This looks like a real promising place. I am looking forward to giving it another try.