Roasted Coffee Served Up at New Crown Heights Cafe

by Rachel Holliday Smith – DNAinfo

Until recently, Zalmy Mochkin had no specific experience as a coffee roaster. But for years he’s been tasting great coffee anywhere he can find it, from San Francisco (where he visited the original Blue Bottle Coffee with his brother) to the Australian outback, where he swears he found a perfect cup while road-tripping to Perth.

“I’ve traveled the world drinking coffee,” he said.

Now, the entrepreneur — who has worked a lot of jobs, from a restaurant in Israel to a phone answering company he ran in Long Island — is getting into the coffee business by opening his own place, Dean Street Cafe at 87 Utica Ave., stocked with his own brand of coffee, Crown Heights Roasting Company, a business begun a year and a half ago with a dream and a national Craigslist search.

“I found a small-batch, five pound roasting machine in Minnesota. And I bought it and paid for the guy to drive it down here and that’s how we began,” Mochkin says inside his new cafe, which will open for business on Monday.

The focus at the new 25-seat eatery will definitely be coffee — single-origin, all kosher and fully caffeinated (or, put plainly: “death before decaf,” Mochkin says) — but will also have snacks like pastries, grilled cheese and avocado toast on the menu to start.

In a few weeks, once a full kitchen is completed in the basement, Dean Street Cafe will also serve more hefty dishes like rice bowls, Portobello mushroom burgers and poached eggs with salmon, he said.

The move to food service makes sense for Mochkin, whose first job was working at a kosher pizza place run by his father on Montgomery Street and Troy Avenue for 13 years.

“I really grew up in the back of a kitchen,” he says.

That pizza shop, The Kretchme, was named for a word meaning an inn, gathering place or “safe haven for peace and quiet,” he said, the sentiment of which Mochkin hopes to bring to his new cafe.

“Coffee’s supposed to bring people together,” he said. “This place will attract people who want to sit down for a while.”

Dean Street Cafe is located at 87 Utica Ave. at the corner of Dean Street.


  • 2. Izzy wrote:

    Good Luck.
    Sound like this guy has some great ideas, attitude, and experience.
    Hope you make lots of $$$$.

    • 4. Drive by on the Way to Work wrote:

      The cafe , two blocks south of Atlantic Ave, is on the next block from a police precinct which should suffice for customers.

  • 5. Would love to know . . . wrote:

    What are the hours the cafe will be open?
    What’s the hechsher there?

    Looking forward to enjoying this great sounding cafe!

  • 7. Kop Doktar wrote:

    Whose hashgacha will this be under?

    Will it be under the HP (Hashgacha Protis)?

    “Hashgacha Pratit was founded by religious Jerusalemites, including Rabbi Aharon Leibowitz, also a member of the Jerusalem Municipal Council for the Yerushalmim party.”

    ” In a Facebook post on Sunday, the organization listed the 25 restaurants under its kashrut supervision and called on patrons to take a photo of themselves at the restaurant with a handwritten note saying “It’s kosher here” and to then upload it to Facebook with a hashtag in Hebrew saying “truly kosher.”

  • 10. Crown Heighter wrote:

    Is Utica and Atlantic (Dean is a block before Atlantic) even part of Crown Heights – included in “kan tziva”?!

  • 11. Kop Doktar wrote:

    If a chosid lives or works at Utica and Atlantic – then it is Crown Heights!

    A chosid makes his sviva! He can make transform anywhere into the Rebbe’s shchuna.

    • 12. Huh? wrote:

      Makes no sense. There are chassidim living EFVERYWHERE. Is the ENTIRE world the “Rebbe’s shchuna” and “KAN TZIVA”???

    • 13. Kop Doktar wrote:

      Yes, you get it. The entire world is indeed the Rebbe’s shchuna and remember, Olom Haza is a “dira lo yisborech”.

  • 14. Bottom Line wrote:

    Does the cafe have a hechsher or not? Yes or No!

    Did the kretchme (inn/bed n breakfast) of olden days have a hechsher? If not, how did frum chassidim eat there!

    When historically did the whole hechsher “industry” start (besides the shochtim under the rav ha’ir / rav ha’machshir)? Did all it start with the OU?!

  • 15. K wrote:

    The Gemara (Shabbath 21a) tells us that this practice, on some level, dates way back at least to the time of the Ḥashmonaim. The Kohanim would light the Menorah in the Beith HaMikdash using oil in sealed containers bearing an official seal that, unless tampered with, marked that the oil was pure and usable for the Menorah. That is “seal of kashris” was a “hechsher”!

    There have been products with hechsher in the past, but not as formalized as today.

    In the late 1700s the Chayei Adam writes that the two ports of arrival for sugar in Europe were Hamburg and Amsterdam — a mashgiach would meet the boat and seal some packages of sugar, “kosher for Passover” — as the sugar you’d usually buy in Europe may have been adulterated with flour.

    (Today, ALL sugar plain white is kosher for pessach and does not require a hechsher).

  • 16. Chosid wrote:

    You misnagdim use sugar on pessach WITHOUT a hechsher for pessach?!

    That is unbelievable!!

    We are at the other end of the spectrum and either don’t use ANY sugar at all – after all it is a processed product, or else COOK the sugar before pessach so that whatever contamination it may contain is bottel!!

  • 17. Chosid wrote:

    Yollie from Willie
    So many comments on a little coffee cafe!

    You Chabaskers either take you coffee very seriously or you need to get a life.

    It isn’t a cholent cafe (which would make a fortune selling a hot bowl or cup of cholent in various flavors) – it’s coffee!


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