New Kid on the Block: Hungry Ghost

Hungry ghosts in nearly all eastern religious traditions are the demon-like creatures who are afflicted with insatiable desire, hunger or thirst, sometimes as the result of bad deeds in their lifetime. (You may recall that Anthony Bourdain used the term for the title of his Japanese-influenced violent graphic novel released last March.) So other than the undead part, it seems like an apt name for people with an obsessive thirst for coffee.

In the full disclosure department, I’ve never had a cup of coffee, so in some ways I have no business writing about our own little Hungry Ghost, the new coffee shop at 165 Church on the corner of Reade (former Sun in Bloom). But maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have been so interested or impressed by the process behind the counter, where Luz Amaya hand crafted each espresso.

You can get your cold brew, kombucha and nitro cold brew here – all on tap, $5 and up — but the Ghost really obsesses over the art of the espresso (one size, $3.50). (And yes, I know they are not alone, and so does Gotan and Kaffe, etc., but the focus for this one moment is this place.) They grind the beans per shot, and then each little pile of grinds is measured to the fraction of the gram, to make sure each cup is not too bitter or too sour. But, Luz said, you still want a little personality. “You want to be able to taste the craftsmanship. It can’t be too perfect.”

The drip coffee is from Stumptown, and for breakfast from 7:30 to 11:30, there’s King David Tacos, the breakfast tacos from Austin that have something of a cult following. Those move fast.

Hungry Ghost is a local chain – this is their eighth outlet in the city – and they started in Brooklyn. Their website promises that the staff is well trained, passionate and over-caffeinated. No mention of the undead.

Hungry Ghost
165 Church Street
6:30a-7p Mon-Fri
7a-7p Sat-Sun