Atlas Joins the Bean Brigades on Clinton Street's Coffee Row

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Jenny Miller
The future home of the Atlas Cafe.

A trot up the Lower East Side's Clinton Street this week revealed an unexpected sight: Yet another coffee shop seemed to be on the brink of opening. A man wielding a paintbrush confirmed this; early next week, a second location of Williamsburg's Atlas is slated to join coffee dealers Cafe Pedlar, Cocoa Bar, and Falai Panetteria on the three-block stretch between Houston and Delancey streets.


The man turned out to be co-owner Lupa Tesconi, a former captain at Osteria del Circo and a lover of antique things and maps. Though the new cafe's interior was a jumble of wood pieces and construction dust, an enormous, immaculate map Tesconi ordered from France took up an entire wall. A counter had been fashioned from recycled wood procured mostly at Build It Green in Astoria; scuffed wooden tables, chairs, and benches rounded out the worn-in feel. "The look is kind of rustic," Tesconi said. "I like old stuff--I don't like 'new.'"

New is fine for espresso machines and coffee machines, though; two shiny such contraptions sat behind the counter, ready to brew Essse espresso from Italy and organic McLaughlin coffee from California. Tesconi and his business partner, Enrico Lorenzetti, both Italian-born, will also offer a selection of seven or eight panini, made with mostly organic ingredients--from tomato, mozzarella, and pesto to prosciutto, goat cheese, and artichoke. Atlas will also serve salads, pastries, and other light fare. Asked whether he's concerned about the street's coffee competition, Tesconi demurred. "I can't think about that--you gotta worry about your own thing. We make sure a cappuccino is a cappuccino, an espresso is an espresso."

With that there was a hissing as he began pulling levers, and within moments he had concocted a diminutive, frothy, caramel-colored shot of true espresso. Whether Atlas will keep up with the competition remains to be seen, but Tesconi has at least one leg on up on the other spots, which start to frown on laptoppers as evening arrives. He plans to keep Atlas open until 11:30 p.m. and promises, "You can come in, you can stay all day."

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