Picture this: you’re walking down Main Street in New Paltz and you hear a band playing live, upbeat music, perhaps a familiar tune. Adjacent to the band is a little coffee shop. You walk in and have a conversation with someone new over a cup of steaming hot, fresh coffee that was roasted locally. Sounds perfect, right? It gets better.
On Saturday, Nov. 2, The Coffee Bar opened up at 9 North Chestnut St. When thinking of The Coffee Bar, one word immediately comes to mind: community.
Ryan Burke, the manager of the café, clarified, “The Coffee Bar is not a business, it’s a place for the community to reach out to each other, have conversations, have fun and listen to live music.”
For their grand opening, just to the right of the café was a large group of brass musicians and a drummer to welcome members of the community into the shop and to fill the streets of New Paltz with bright, happy tunes.
People that walked into the cafe were shocked and delighted to find out that everything was free: the delicious and seasonal spiced cider, an assortment of cookies (that Burke asserts will be a staple of the café), coffee, cappuccinos, americanos, lattes, teas and other coffee based drinks.
What is even more astonishing is that this isn’t just a one time thing, everything at The Coffee Bar is free, although tips are encouraged if you want to help keep the doors open. The Coffee Bar is run by the Church communities in Rifton, New York (just a 12-minute drive from New Paltz), which is how they are able to operate such a unique space.
Interestingly, the cafe is only open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 6-9 p.m.
“Maybe most cafes aren’t open this late, and for us it’s not about competing with local businesses, we don’t want to step on their toes at all,” Burke said.“We’re just trying to make a space for people to come and have fun…it’s all about the people.”
Welcomingly, Burke invites “any late-nighters who need a bit of caffeine to keep going.” Burke has hopes that college kids and people of New Paltz will come to use the WiFi and do their homework. Moreso, Burke encourages community and conversation, the mission of The Coffee Bar.
Burke said, “We just want to reach out to our neighbors. That’s kind of the main purpose.” Like having the jazz band play, The Coffee Bar will feature other musicians, such as Jenny Angel, a country music singer who will perform on Nov. 12. Besides that, Burke mentioned hosting open mics for music, poetry and even game nights.
Not only does The Coffee Bar reach out to local neighbors and connect with the New Paltz community, but the shop also operates globally. Burke explained, “The coffee that we’re serving is actually roasted by us. The beans are coming from Guatemala this time, we buy them fair trade to help support the farmers down there.”
Right when you step into The Coffee Bar, there is a warm embrace of community. The mission of conversation and personal connection is an admirable facet that this café is trying to incorporate in society, one that is very much needed and makes living in or visiting New Paltz feel like home.