Eight years ago, the only place to get a decent cup of coffee in Fort Greene was at Tillie’s of Brooklyn, a place dear to my heart since it employed me all throughout college. But now, the area has half a dozen caffeine-fueled options, including the newest kid on the block, WTF.
While the name means exactly what you think it does, perhaps the real connotation behind the acronym is this question: what the fuck is a high-end coffee shop doing on a lazy street in Fort Greene? Based on the shop’s shiny glass exterior, bare minimum décor and elaborate brewing options, it, and the owner’s fancy sneaker shop next door, look like they would fare better on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
But owner Asio Highsmith’s reason for opening WTF was based purely on self-interest: He didn’t want to travel too far to get a solid cup of coffee. He didn’t even think of opening the shop until its predecessor Bidonville, also a coffee joint, closed down last year. And, when Highsmith finally opened WTF about three months ago, he did so with the idea of making a place that presented enough options for how your morning coffee is made so that every day of the week it could be different.
"I shaped it to be something that is sharp, smart and sexy, with many options," Highsmith tells me. "I want all kinds of ways to drink coffee and I like it to be done properly."
Aside from the basic espresso machine style, WTF uses a French press ($3.75), Chemex ($3), sock-pot ($3.25), pour over ($3), siphon ($5.50) and cold brew ($4). Don’t worry if you don’t know what all of these are; you can see the various machines, canisters and filters sitting behind a sheet of glass that acts as a barrier in the otherwise open room.
Part of Highsmith’s ultimate goal with WTF is to teach his neighbor as much as he can about coffee. This is why the shop has a $25 coffee course, which goes over the different beans and brewing and even teaches a bit of latte art. WTF has also started an espresso program highlighting a different roaster each month. When I stopped in recently, it was featuring PT’s Coffee Roasting from Topeka, Kan., and the tri-color, marbled espresso shot had a nice, citrusy note without being too acidic.
The shop’s regular brews are made with beans from Coffee Labs Roasters in upstate New York and it offers four flavors daily, like the full-bodied Nicaraguan Dipilto and fruity Ethiopian Amaro Gayo. The medium-bodied Honduran Finca Liquidambar tickled me with a light, warm spice and a hint of lemon, and I was even happier to find I was getting a caffeine buzz without the palm sweats that usually follow. My only real complaint with WTF is the lack of seating—there is none—though it does offer counters that stretch along the walls if you need a place to park your cup. Because it’s standing room only, WTF feels less like a place to spend time and more like a take-out joint.
While another coffee shop isn’t particularly needed in Fort Greene, WTF offers a unique and well-curated coffee experience. We didn’t think we needed another coffee shop in Fort Greene; what the fuck were we thinking?
47 Willoughby Ave. (betw. Adelphi St. & Clermont Ave.)