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Sweetleaf Coffee Expands

Sweetleaf coffee barAmbria Cone

Sweetleaf is entering a new weight category. The Long Island City, Queens, coffee spot tripled in size after taking over the storefront next door and adding a pour over bar (where coffee will be brewed by the cup), and single origin espresso – right now it’s Stumptown Coffee Roaster’s Ethiopian Mordecofe.

The renovation used materials salvaged from neighboring apartments – the 20-foot-long coffee bar is made out of old doors. Some details are original to the building, such as the pressed tin that was discovered, intact, behind sheets of drywall.

Sweetleaf’s original room, which is shaped like a slice of pizza (and isn’t much larger) is now what co-owner Richard Nieto describes as a “laptop lounge” where patrons can plug in and tune out. In the back of the new space there will be what Mr. Nieto calls the Vinyl Room, which will open next week. The Vinyl Room will have a turntable, vintage speakers and a few hundred LPs from the collections Mr. Nieto and his partner Freddie Arundel. “There’s a lot of rock-and-roll and metal,” said Mr. Nieto. “Judas Priest, Manowar, Joan Jett. Mötley Crüe, for good or bad.”

It’s laissez-faire listening. You go back with your coffee, pick out an album and drop the needle.

“I want it to take it back to what it meant to listen to a record,” said Mr. Nieto. “It’s different. You take the record out of its sleeve and it’s big, and you have to be careful with it. You put down the needle. You hear the crackling. Then you sit back and relax. You’re much pickier when you play the whole album.”

Playing a whole album is an exotic ritual in this era of earbuds. “I want it to feel like being a teenager again,” Mr. Nieto said. “I want for it to be cool to hang out and listen to music with your friends.”


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