“I had a dream,” says Graham Fortgang, owner of MatchaBar in Williamsburg, “where I walked into a café and matchas were being made with milkshake machines.”
Today, that dream becomes a reality. Graham and his brother Max have opened what they say is the “first matcha café in New York,” offering matcha lattes, matchaccinos, and even guacamole (“matchamole”) made with the traditional-turned-trendy green tea powder.
Though MatchaBar sells the wooden whisks used in Japanese tea ceremonies, you won’t find them in use at the front counter – instead, an electric drink mixer blends the powdered leaves (directly sourced from a farm in Japan) into iced watermelon and cucumber drinks.
Rather than being strict traditionalists, these matcha mavens want to “fuel the New York hustle” – something they know a thing or two about. Graham and business partner Eli Libman discovered matcha while they were producing nightlife events and looking for a healthier way to stay up into the wee hours. They found the green stuff, which contains about a third of the caffeine of coffee, in the traditional teahouses of the East Village, where the Fortgangs where living while attending NYU.
The matcha experience at their café is a bit different: “we want you in and out in five,” Graham says. Or less, even: customers can always just snag some custom tins ($22 for the basic blend, $30 for the premium) and go make their next 15 or so cups at home. The place will soon be bottling its bevies, as well. (If you refuse to stray from coffee, they’ve got it — from Toby’s Estate.)
Should you want to sit down to eat one of the “farm-fresh” sandwiches made by Watty & Meg, there’s a back table, WiFi, and power outlets every five feet.
Starting Oct. 1, there’ll be more incentive to linger: upstairs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, a pop-up market will feature a rotating mix of five artisan vendors selling accessories, clothing, and art. It’s uncertain whether any of the jewelry will be made from matcha.
MatchaBar, 93 Wythe Ave., nr. N. 10th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-599-0015; Open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.