Amid the plethora of ramshackle warehouses in north Williamsburg, a new kind of coffee shop has emerged. Yet, the ‘coffee shop’ persona is exactly what MatchaBar is trying to fend off. Although MatchaBar does offer all of the traditional espresso drinks of New York coffee culture lore, the primary product is matcha, a finely ground green tea powder of ancient Japanese fame. Unlike the conventional method of tea-brewing, matcha is mixed directly into a variety of beverages and consumed whole, opening the door to a world of health and lifestyle benefits.
Upon closer observation, the benefits of matcha are almost too good to be true. Using only the outermost leaves of the season’s first crop of green tea, matcha offers about two-thirds the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. While that may deter the twitchy, caffeine-addicted residents of New York, the chemical makeup of matcha (which include an abundance of catechins and the oft-praised L-Theanine) allows for a slow release caffeine intake. The result is a calm, yet attentive and energetic boost that will last steadily throughout the day.
These qualities, along with matcha’s delicious taste and tantalizing aesthetic, are the driving principles behind Max and Graham Fortgang’s vision. The two brothers opened up their innovative shop after a long love affair with matcha throughout their years as students. Matcha has long been an established staple of New York teahouses. Still, none have been bold enough to view the customary tea as a possible replacement to coffee in the life of the city-dweller. The Fortgangs designed their cozy caffeine boutique after the time-honored coffee shops of New York City, even bearing a stark resemblance to Starbucks. The aim is to provide an accessible and familiar experience, while subtly revolutionizing the café industry with a smarter, more refreshing product.
So far, the response has shown an overwhelming success. MatchaBar has become a staple in its corner of the city and will soon be expanding to Chealsea’s high-volume market. “We even experimented with a pop-up shop in Tokyo,” Max Fortgang explained in an interview with TravelDose. Even though matcha is seen as an unstylish tradition of the older generations in Japan, people lined up out the door for the Fortgang’s unique Matcha Lattes and Matchaccinos. “When they see that two guys from Brooklyn are doing it, they think it must be cool again,” Fortgang chuckled.
Indeed, Brooklyn is at the very heart of the Fortgangs quest. MatchaBar locally sources all of its secondary products, including the likes of a carrot-based habanero hot sauce from Tango Chile, pastries from Gourmet Guild and ice cream from OddFellows. The electric-green drink has become a daily staple for employees and frequenters of Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn Brewery, Verboten, Fast Ashley’s, VICE, the Wythe Hotel and a variety of other establishments that make north Williamsburg one of the most exciting, budding communities in all of New York.
Upon tasting the electric-green matcha, you will understand why. Fuji Apple Ginger Matcha and iced Matcha Lemonade are delicious ways to cool off in the summertime. For the fall, a Matcha Chai Latte or Cinnamon Hemp MatchaLatté will warm you up and keep you moving all day long.