I met up with my buddy Egon Zippel the other morning to grab breakfast and discuss art. Egon is a big-time German artist and dear friend, and we decided to head over to downtown favorite Oro Bakery for our chat. Upon arrival, we were shocked to discover that the business had closed – I found out later that the owners had moved on to greener pastures. We were pretty disappointed but still needed our coffee, so we wandered down Broome Street and came upon Greecologies, a newish coffee and yogurt bar.
We’ve all heard the saying, “when one door closes another opens.” It’s usually applied to more significant situations than a switch of coffee shops, but on that day a new door was certainly opened for me.
What’s unique about Greecologies is that it’s a dairy as much as a coffee shop; they make their own yogurt and butter in the heart of lower Manhattan where Little Italy, Chinatown and SoHo converge. As a dairy guy, I was intrigued to say the least.
Now I’ve been to many an urban dairy in my time, but none quite like this. In New York City alone there’s a Beecher's Handmade Cheese outpost where they make very good cheeses on a larger scale, and you have the fine folks at Eataly stretching ball after ball of hand-made mozzarella. But Greecologies is different. They make tiny batches of yogurt and butter that they serve only in their café. No packaging-and-selling, no take-out. Everything they make is consumed on the premises.
When I approached the counter to order a drink, I happened to spot a “probiotic iced coffee” on their menu and decide to try it. They mix whey from their yogurt (teeming with nutritious live cultures) with some seriously good coffee. The blend was tangy, delicious and undeniably healthy – a fantastic combination.
After ordering the beverage, I took one look at their handmade, golden-colored butter and knew I had to try some of that as well. I had it with a feta-cheese-and-black-olive muffin. The butter was fresh and sweet, complementing the salty, dense muffin perfectly.
After this initial experience I resolved to come back again for further investigation. On my second visit, I was lucky enough to watch the yogurt makers finish draining their Greek yogurt in cloth bags. There were seventeen bags per batch, each yielding approximately two gallons of yogurt. They were emptying each bag by hand, turning the bags inside out and squeezing out every bit of the thick cream.
I spoke with the incredibly friendly general manager, Aki Suzuki, who told me their milk comes from Back to the Future Farm, an upstate farm that’s home to grass-grazing Jersey cows. Jersey cows are a smaller breed of cow that produce super rich milk; their milk is golden in color, as is the yogurt and butter from Greecologies. Greecologies’ website quotes journalist Michael Pollan’s famous saying: "We are what we eat eats." Clearly, these guys are as serious about their cows as they are about their taste buds.
While I know this particular über-urban dairy is only accessible to residents of NYC, there are thankfully more and more small dairies popping up in American cities each month. And if you ever find yourself in NYC, pop into Greecologies and you just may find me soaking up some vitamin D in the lush back patio, enjoying life at the dairy.