There’s nothing ordinary about Oliver Coffee. Settled just barely inside of NYC’s Two Bridges neighborhood (at 5 Oliver St) the cafe features an outside order and pick-up window, as well as a range of international (and frequently obscure) magazines and snacks inside, selected by Import News. Oliver’s menu features staples like an Americano and latte, as well as new necessities like a dense cold brew. But for an additional three dollars, their skilled barista will add CBD oil. Further, three specialty drinks have been concocted with CBD oil in mind, a Golden Turmeric CBD Latte, Rose-Infused Maple Syrup & Oat Milk Latte, and an Iced Pandan Leaf Iced Chai CBD Latte with Fresh Ginger. In our opinion (after trying them all) these flavorful, balanced coffee-alternative beverages offer what CBD purports to: provide relief.
Aisa Shelley, one of Oliver’s partners (as well as the managing partner at the vibe-y, nearby watering hole Mr. Fong’s) was inspired to pursue the program thanks to friends out in LA. Shelley explains to us, “In New York, since it became legal to sell on the market, we’ve begun to see some people playing around with CBD and its potential.” Research, context and experimentation drove their process, and Shelley’s partner taste-tested a bunch of products before selecting the specific oil they felt most confident with. “It’s all about the extraction process,” he says. “When you pull out the terpenes and get rid of the THC it really can be a crapshoot if you aren’t paying attention to the details. You have to make sure the quality is consistent.”
As for the stigma, he feels like he needs to educate consumers from time to time. “From what we’ve gathered, the way they extract it is now legal in accordance with the medical marijuana act Cuomo signed a year or two ago,” he continues. “They are able to process CBD and sell it to retailers. It’s just an extract—an oil.” That said, it is not approved as a supplement so nobody can officially claim it provides health benefits. “We are not saying it is going to do something that it’s not,” he says. This is true of the shop, but some studies do note benefits regarding everything from inflammation to anxiety. Oliver Coffee drinks, for us, delivered a healthy dose of chill.
When adding CBD oil to one of their coffee drinks (which are pulled from a La Marzocco Linea Classic), there’s a likelihood that it will reduce the jitters—this was our experience. But the drinks truly worth chasing are the three aforementioned coffee-alternatives. As for their development, Shelley explains that turmeric appealed because it already has so many fans, and it’s easy to blend the CBD botanicals into a golden latte devoid of coffee. For the Iced Chai, pandan is used as it’s a favorite over at Mr. Fong’s for such a distinct verdant quality. It’s the oatmeal drink that impresses the most. “It came from wanting to mess around with rose and rose oil,” Shelley adds, “It tastes like you are drinking oatmeal.” The oatmeal flavor does shine, as do hints of rose and a lavish sweetness. The drink is smooth, rich and delicious.
If the CBD oil drinks become a draw, it’s something they could potentially expand upon. “Right now, we have a little shop in Chinatown and we made it because it didn’t have anything like it. It felt like a need.” Shelley himself lives in the area and didn’t have a place to go for his morning cup of coffee, so he made it himself. “It felt right for us to be doing another small thing for the neighborhood,” he concludes. But Oliver’s is definitely something more than a small thing.
Images courtesy of Oliver Coffee