Meet the Coffee ‘Peddler’ of East Houston Street
The corridor of Lafayette Street running from Bleecker to Spring is not without its coffee choices. In fact, there are four such caffeine recharging stations within this short stretch of pavement, earning it the unofficial nickname “Latte Lane.” Yet that hasn’t stopped one local Alphabet City resident from wheeling out a beat-up cart to the corner of East Houston. Peddler Espresso, as it’s known, serves java to weekday commuters and is a unique experience. Indeed, there’s no other coffee exclusive cart in the area.
Each weekday morning, Aussie proprietor Byron Kaplan grabs the pushcart – codenamed the iPed – from its garage space on East 4th Street (soon to be a new hotel), and sets up shop outside the doomed BP gas station. Think of Peddler as an open-air espresso bar with a laid back vibe. “I offer the coffee to stay mostly as a sustainable practice and not just to be yuppies on the sidewalk but also to slow down, downsize and de-sterilize the streets,” Kaplan quips. He comes through on that front, evidenced by the competitive price points and the makeshift seating area with its colorful collection of kiddie stools. Coffee is roasted by upstart micro-roaster Lofted Coffee from Bushwick; cappuccino is apparently the biggest seller.
The food cart itself was a junked Nuts 4 Nuts trailer that had been chained to scaffolding on Avenue C and left for dead. Kaplan fixed it up and hit the road. His first stop was to serve midtown – at 44th and 6th Avenue – but that was short-lived. Last April, he high-tailed it back downtown to his current perch on the Mason Dixon line of East Houston. Beans are ground and brewed onsite. The gear is quite prestigious – vintage 2-group lever pull espresso machine and Mazzer Robur grinder which is top of the line. It’s all powered by a generator which doubles as heat source in tundra conditions.
Meanwhile, business was apparently brisk enough in the last year to secure an upgrade. The futuristic-sounding “Peddler 2000” – currently in “top secret development” – will soon join the neighborhood. However, there are still some permitting hurdles to clear with the city. It’ll offer more space for gear and protection from the elements. But weather really is of little concern to Byron. Barring deluge or frostbite conditions.
It’s also worth noting, though, that bean-grinding Byron isn’t the only peddler who hustles on East Houston with that name. Remember that there is also Byron the shoe-shiner who still holds down an old-school sidewalk operation just across the street.