Coffee, tea (f)or me…last week I happened to wander upon a most memorable find while sauntering across Greenwich Village during an early evening stroll with my college roommate, Davis-transplant-turned-fashion designer and baking enthusiast, Timothy Leung, killing time as we waited for his better half to finish a stint as babysitter just a block over. With a pre-dinner slice of Joe’s pizza in our guts, the city was ours…at least for the next 45 minutes before we joined Lena to wander the city for a proper supper. Our appetite satiated for a moment, we walked and talked in a fashion wholly appropriate to Gotham’s landscape, a rapid fire cadence of conversation and footsteps not typical for this regularly relaxed Valley Boy, but one enjoyed nonetheless for its novelty (if not just to build up an appetite).
McNulty’s old timey facade glowers slightly morosely upon the sidewalk of Christopher Street, a sign proclaiming “Rare Teas and Choice Coffees since 1895”, an undeniable draw to our curiosity and as close as I’ve seen to a Harry Potter shop come to life. From a dimly illuminated interior which seemed wholly appropriate to the kerosene generation to the carefully stacked assortments of teas and bags of roasted legumes from the world over showcased with an enthusiast’s care, McNulty’s exudes a mysterious pull which seems equally archival and bravely authentic in a New York that has changed so much in just the least 10 years.
The myriad of promising ways to quench a thirst for leaf or bean beverages beckoned us to first tentatively browse, then eventually buy…there’s something for anyone and everyone in this shop unless you’re one who is easily frightened by the unknown. But for those looking for something new…or something wonderfully traditional, McNulty’s will not disappoint. I came away with a small tin of Earl Grey tea while Timothy purchased something a bit more arcane: coffee grown and roasted in China. We sampled a bean each of the roast, deeming the taste interesting enough to warrant a purchase (mild and probably more pleasant for cooking/baking rather than actual brewing, an opinion proven true the next morning), and left the shop feeling enthused the rest of the evening would offer similar unexpected finds. I’ll surely return to McNulty’s next time I’m in NYC, hoping it hasn’t changed a darn bit, down to its meekly lit interior.