Dining Out: Italian culture and coffee collide at Kings Coffee

December 12, 2013 Heather Chin
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Coffee may be available on virtually every street corner in Brooklyn, but the carefully blended, freshly ground, hand-pulled, TLC-laden coffee is really hard to find, especially at affordable prices. That is where Kings Coffee comes in.

Located in a cozy garage space—the door of which opens on warm days—on a residential stretch of Carroll Street along the Columbia Street Waterfront District, the 16-month-old coffee shop co-founded by brothers Dominic and John Palastro has a mission of bringing old-school traditions of Italian coffee-making back to Brooklyn.

That mission is built upon at least three generations of Italian coffee roasting know-how, paired with Brooklyn small business camaraderie.

Kings Coffee’s menu is relatively short and sweet, with items ranging in price from a $2 cup of espresso to a $5 café au lait. In between, there are options like caffé latte ($4), caffé americano ($3), cappuccino ($4), cowboy coffee ($3), long black ($3) and Breükelen Dutch slow cold drip ($5, on or off the rocks).

Sugar and milk are available, as is Widow Jane bourbon and simple syrup should you request it, but everything at Kings Coffee can stand on its own without accoutrements.

A simple cup of espresso is surprisingly anything but simple. The espresso beans are aromatic and slightly smoky. As a Caffé Latte, the espresso brew is topped with a gloriously comforting pile of steamed milk and each sip is remarkably devoid of bitterness.

When enjoyed cold via a 12-hour process through two filters in a hand-carved cold-drip machine from South Korea called “The Ridge,” the espresso flavor is remarkably smooth. Add a touch of simple syrup and a light sweetness creeps in somehow without altering anything.

The cold drip brewed Americano is similarly smooth, more subtle than smoky, and with a lighter consistency, similar to that of a really good cup of tea.

According to Dominic, the smoothness is the result of the cold drip process, and the light sweetness the effect of using the naturally sweet limestone water from Red Hook business Widow Jane’s upstate mines.

At Kings Coffee, each cup of coffee also has a story.

Everything begins with Brooklyn-roasted beans from retired Bensonhurst roaster and legend Mister Joe Iervasi, who trained the Brothers Palastro in his craft—itself learned from an Italian roasting master—and whose carefully curated blends, Espresso and Americano, can be purchased at Kings Coffee’s shop.

The shop found its current home at 37 Carroll Street because of the Palastro family’s four generations of history in the neighborhood, with a great grandfather raising a family near the docks and starting an art studio there, and a great uncle continuing to work in the area and treating his visiting nephews to tiny servings of espresso.

Now there is Kings Coffee, starting fresh while also keeping the spirit of entrepreneurship, family, and Italian tradition alive.

Looking forward, Dominic says he hopes to develop espresso bars around Brooklyn, also adding Italian hot chocolate to the menu, as well as a tea menu, with Italian flavors like fennel and basil.

Kings Coffee

37 Carroll Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231



Closed Wednesdays.

Open 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekdays.

Open 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekends.

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