A café is a space people can relax and enjoy a hand-crafted drink and the newspaper, or focus intently on their laptop screen – but a café is also a utilitarian place to get sustenance, with a shot of caffeine.
Like Frank Lloyd-Wright’s Filling Station, there’s something graceful and beautiful about the utilitarian nature of a café and Tipico Coffee is the perfect example of that simple elegance.
Tucked into the West Side, Tipico doesn’t strive to topple customers with exotic ingredients or painstaking technique. From the coffee to the menu to the décor, Tipico aims to provide a high-quality product while acknowledging that sometimes you just want to grab a quick cup of coffee and bite to eat.
The name of the café is a reference to the everyday food of Latin America: comida tipica, or tipico. Owner Jesse Crouse told me the idea behind Tipico is to become a place where people want to be regulars – not a place for treating yourself on pay day or for special occasions.
“I want to be the place that you work into your daily life; so it becomes your daily ritual for where you get coffee and food,” Crouse said.
Originally from just outside Chicago, Crouse met his wife, a Western New Yorker, in the Windy City while both were attending college. In Chicago, Crouse worked at Intelligentsia Coffee, where he would find himself tasting 3,000 cups of coffee a year running the company’s tasting room.
The couple later moved to Santa Cruz, Calif. There, Crouse worked for Verve Coffee as a buyer, which involved flying around the world to buy coffee from farmers in Ethiopia, Columbia and other coffee-producing countries.
Now opening a café in the West Side of Buffalo, the native Chicagoan wants Tipico to become part of daily life on the West Side. He promised that Tipico will have “absurdly world class coffee” sourced from one local roaster and one boutique roaster in Wisconsin he connected with while living in California. Coffee will be available in both espresso and pour-over, and for those who hate ‘hipster wait times’: Tipico Coffee will always have a fresh pot brewed so people can have coffee in hand within seconds of paying for it.
“I want this coffee to be the best coffee you ever had – but also, luckily, the coffee you get to have every single day,” Crouse said.
That statement may come off as a boast, but the day I met Crouse – he welcomed me to Tipico’s Fargo Street location by pouring me a cup of coffee he had brewed from a small urn, not into a mug or coffee cup, but into a rocks glass. We were sat in a half-finished café, so no need to get fancy. We’re just two guys talking and drinking coffee from cups that happen to be lying around!
It was lukewarm and didn’t look freshly made. He set the coffee down in front of me as we talked – no offer of cream or sugar – and waited from me to sample the brew he would be building his brand and his life in Buffalo around. After a brief delay that built the tension to Mexican stand-off levels, I took a sip.
To be honest: I hadn’t had coffee that good since my brother brought beans back from a trip to Columbia 15 years ago. That’s right. Tipico’s coffee is so good; it actually brought me back a decade and a half.
To complement the coffee, Tipico will have a simple food menu based around season and local ingredients. Options will include uncomplicated yet satisfying items such as BreadHive toast with avocado or house-made ricotta, a hard-boiled egg cooked sous vide, and Butter Block pastries available a few days a week. Crouse said he wants to provide delicious food, but doesn’t want something on his menu that would make someone say, “I’ve never heard of that and I don’t want it.” Nothing on the menu will be more than $6.
While he wants people to come in every day, that doesn’t mean frequenting the café should become routine or even mundane. The space, like the menu, at Tipico is minimally designed, but structured to change with the season: During the winter, a masonry stove will heat the entire café; while in summer, all of the front windows can be opened like an accordion. Furthermore, Edison light bulbs are dangled from the ceiling with magnets, which means lighting can be adjusted for specific or whimsical reasons.
It’s this adaptability through minimalism that makes Tipico such an exciting prospect.
That and the jaw-dropping coffee.
128 Fargo Street, Buffalo, NY 14201
Open every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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