NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For David Wong, it was love at first sip.
“When I was maybe three or four years old, my mom used to drink a lot of coffee. She always put milk and sugar in her cup. And, as a kid, I loved milk and sugar, so I stole a sip from her cup, and I said, ‘Wow! This is great stuff!'”
The experience led him to a part-time job at McNulty’s Tea & Coffee, purveyor of caffeine to Greenwich Village since 1895.
“I started here when I was in high school, working the weekends, helping out the [McNulty] family,” he said.
Today, he runs the shop with help from his father, Wing, and nephew, Chris.
“We’ve had this since 1980,” David said. “The McNulty family, when they retired, they offered the shop to us.”
The new team hasn’t changed the old way of doing things.
“We’ve kept the legacy of McNulty’s alive,” David said.
A loyal following of customers returns to McNulty’s decade after decade.
“[They were] going to NYU. Now, they’re in their 60s,” David said.
The shop is filled with hundreds of products, from beans ground fresh on-site to loose-leaf teas on display in glass jars.
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“Most of the teas are either from China, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya. Those are the big four tea producers in the world,” David said.
Top sellers include well-known varieties, like chamomile and Earl Grey, but atypical options are also available.
“In terms of the fruity herbal ones, the ‘Blue Eyes’ would definitely be one of the more popular ones. It’s got some rhubarb cream, rose hips, and hibiscus,” David said.
The old tin ceiling and antique scales offer customers a peek into the past.
“A lot of people come in here and just tell us that this feels like an old-time coffee and tea museum to them,” David said.
History is also on display in a catalog of coffee orders jotted on note cards, corresponding to customers past and present.
“People always forget their blends. That’s why we make a card for them,” David said.
One notable card, dated June 20, 1972, contains the preferred coffee bean blend of the late Katharine Hepburn.
“As long as you remember your name, we know what you like,” David said.
McNulty’s Tea and Coffee Co.
109 Christopher Street
New York, NY 10014
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