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May 28, 2013 07:05 AM

Roogla Coffee on Smith St. Intelligensia + a Steampunk machine (formerly Ecopolis)

Hi Chowhound! I joined up this morning so that I could holler about this place, and ended up posting on a bunch of stuff in my neighborhood before getting around to this. Must have been the coffee! Went straight to my head.

Ok, so this place on the corner of Warren and Smith just re-opened. Might be new owners, I don't know. Regardless, this is a completely different vibe than Ecopolis, in a good way!

They are calling the place Roogia, and they have a beautiful espresso machine and use Intelligensia coffee. The crown jewel of this place though is their Steampunk brand coffee brewing machine, which behaves like a responsive and emotionally intelligent coffee robot. I do not know exactly how the mechanics work, but the coffee is freaking great. Had iced coffee there this weekend, hot coffee there just now. The brewed coffee, as opposed to the espresso, only comes in one size (right now) at $3.00 per cup, and I thought the price was justified. Some of the best coffee I've had in the city, and I am a long time customer of Joe, Blue Bottle, Pedlar, and many others... Caffeine freak I guess. The coffee takes a short minute, faster than a pour over place, and the results are superior, in my opinion. I love it when hot coffee can taste refreshing. That's what this did. Had macchiato there this weekend, and it was solid. The real move here though is the Steampunk brewed cup of coffee. Have never seen this machine before, and am happy it's in my hood. Completely different than Pedlar, Starbucks, Mocha Bagel, which are are all basically within a block of each other, so happy they made a strong statement.

Talked to the guy at the counter (Fernando?) for a minute, asking if they had done a morning rush yet. He said not really, they opened for three hours only on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, and they definitely had some busy time this weekend, but this morning was the first morning they were really open for a weekday rush type situation. Did not see the hours or prices posted anywhere, but everyone behind the counter has been friendly, so just speak up! I went in at 7am today and they were open. Can't speak to earlier.

Relieved that boring old, burnt coffee Ecopolis is gone. Was no benefit to them over Mocha Bagel. I would be happy to miss a train for Roogia. Going to be my regular place, I think.

Happy caffeinated summer to all of you!


EDIT: this place has seating for about 8 people total. This is more seating than Ecopolis had, but still is set up to get people in and out, more like Joe less like Pedlar.

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  1. EDIT: talked to the owner, Tony, and he said that this Steampunk machine is one of only 17 in the world, 2 in NYC, the other is at a La Colombe, but I don't remember which location... he said that the machine is based on Siphon technology, and that the major advantage this has over Siphon is temperature control. He said that traditional siphon has a big temperature difference between the base and the stem... great news is that they are open until 9pm!

    1. a "responsive and emotionally intelligent coffee robot"?

      sounds like half the graduating class of NYU school of the arts, circa 1997.

      1 Reply
      1. re: debinqueens

        The first law of robotics is that a robot cannot harm a human being, and so far, this coffee machine has done my taste buds no harm!

      2. I checked this place out today. The coffee was pretty good, but they still have some issues to work out. I ordered a pastry "to stay" and it was given to me in a to go bag. When I asked for plate (so I could eat it there at a table) I was told they didn't have any plates, so they gave it to me on a coffee saucer.

        The other issue is seating. The have a couch on stilts that I can't imagine anyone actually climbing onto with a cup of hot coffee. Not very practical. Instead, I chose to sit on a bench, which was pretty uncomfortable and had a table too low to sit comfortably at.

        There is a counter at the window, but not enough stools to sit at.

        Could be that this place is just new and hasn't gotten everything in order yet, but if people can't enjoy a comfortable cup of coffee, then what's the point?

        4 Replies
        1. re: jenakacirce

          Was the pastry any good? They gave away a small one to me on one of their opening days and I did not care for it. As far as the seating goes, I haven't cared to linger long in coffee shops since I was a lad. I guess I prefer a long sit in a bar. I hear you though, makes me think of all those folks I see siting in Starbucks. If you are looking to sit and meditate I suggest Pedlar; the wait there tends to be long, but the coffee is great, and it is a very pretty room. Roogia has vastly improved the coffee available in that stretch, but I agree, the room is as Spartan as ever.

          1. re: HungryWino

            The pasty was ok. Not bad, not great. I have to admit I was very partial to Ecopolis -- loved their coffee and food. But I'm going to try to keep an open mind and try out Roogia again.

            1. re: jenakacirce

              I stopped by on Sunday morning for a pastry...and learned they don't get their pastry delivered until about noon. Um, breakfast?

              If they named the place after rugelach, I would have thought the pastry was a priority. I thought Ecopolis' pastry was overpriced, but it was from Birdbath and very good.

          2. re: jenakacirce

            They must read this thread, five stools today. Score.

          3. It's called Roogla, a play on rugelach, not Roogia. I admit, the L does look like an I, but I asked what the name meant.
            The shot I had was longish but tasty, and the Steampunk produced a fairly clean tasting cup of El Salvador. They use Intelligentsia. I'd say it's more like a combination of siphon & French press. There is sediment in the bottom of the cup.
            I don't get why he has this zillion dollar machine and puts the end result in a paper cup. I hope that changes. Definitely some of the best coffee in the neighborhood, at least based on one visit.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Peter Cuce

              Not to be too hard on this place, but I don't understand how the owners pick a font that doesn't accurately depict the name. I mean, how does that happen? That kind of inattention indicates a failure to view the business from the customer's perspective (same with the poor seating choices).

              1. re: jenakacirce

                I agree about the sign - another thing about that is that it's nearly impossible to see the sign from outside unless you're right in front of the place, since all of the signage is behind the window. They should try to get some external signage.

                The seating might just be them opening before they were 100% ready.