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In steaming hot coffee news, neighborhood java favorite Frisson Espresso has expanded to include a second location at W44th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue, open now and also serving up new food items!
Run by best friends Tulian Sanchez and Robert Melo, Frisson was already a go-to for West Siders seeking a caffeine fix in the area, with a popular spot on W47th between 8th and 9th Avenue. “We opened our first location in 2015 and loved Hell’s Kitchen,” said Tulian. “We were looking for a second location in the neighborhood but couldn’t find the right place, right location, or right size.”
They were thankful to still be in business throughout the pandemic — “We were able to bounce back because people around here loved us, and we love this area,” added Robert, they were on the hunt for an ideal second location when Tulian stumbled on an opportunity.
“I was walking by and saw that the burrito place here had closed, and I thought, ‘this would actually make a great coffee shop,’ so I approached the landlord,” said Tulian. They were able to secure an agreement, and after months of pandemic supply-chain delays and paperwork, were finally able to open just in time for New York’s best coffee season.
One new boon? A full-size kitchen, enabling the team at Frisson’s second location to serve up a full line of smoothies, sandwiches and house-baked pastries to patrons. Beginning with smoothies and smoothie bowls, they plan to add nutella sandwiches, banana and peanut butter toast and the ever-popular avocado toast, as well as scones and lunch-friendly sandwich options. “We see other people doing these kind of things,” said Tulian, “but I think we can actually give it our own personal twist.”
Carrying over from W47th Street, Frisson’s signature latte art will be fully present at W44th. “It’s what we love doing, and it’s what the staff loves doing,” said Tulian. “You have to love coffee to serve great coffee. You can cheat with regular coffee, but with cappuccinos and lattes you really have to care to get the product right.”
Tulian, who admits “I didn’t love coffee until I started drinking it in my thirties,” first became interested in the industry while working as a coffee machine technician for specialty brands like 9th Street Espresso and Blue Bottle Coffee around the Tri-State area.
“I started learning about coffee, and I saw the inner workings of how it was made,” he said. “And when I started tasting a difference in these specialty coffees, I gained appreciation for it. Eventually, I thought, ‘If they can do this, I can do this,’ and I called my best friend Robert and said, ‘Do you want to open a coffee shop?’”
Robert, a deli owner, was already familiar with the food and beverage businesses and eagerly agreed. “From there we got started — and it was way before there was a lot of latte art – you’d just make a little heart or a rose,” said Tulian. “We started digging in deeper and experimenting – you can make a swan with this, you can make a horse with this, you can make a pegasus with this – and eventually we were able to compete with the best of them,” he added.
More West Side Newcomers
In addition to competing in latte art competitions like Coffee Fest New York (held every March in the nearby Javits Center), the duo and their staff also compete with other baristas across the five boroughs in informal “throwdown” gatherings around town. “We’re passionate about competing with other artists in the neighborhood and baristas coming from other states as well,” said Tulian.
They’re happy to practice their craft with the grateful coffee fiends of Hell’s Kitchen. “We love our local clientele – everybody’s kind,” said Tulian, adding that a bonus is getting to spend time in Hell’s Kitchen’s enviable culinary scene. “You’ve got tacos over there, ramen over here, there are such great food options,” he added, with both Robert and Tulian shouting out their favorite meals at Carmine’s, Mom’s, The Meatball Shop, Añejo, and of course, happy hour across from their first location at Dutch Fred’s. “Having a long day? You can see the bar on the horizon and get cocktails – we know where we’re going later,” laughed Tulian.
But before West Siders make their way to the bar, the team hopes they’ll make a few daytime stops at Frisson’s new coffee bar. Said Tulian, “Come on by to try the coffee and our great new options!”
The new Frisson Espresso is located at 405 W44th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue. @frissonespresso