Wearing patched-up pants, fingerless gloves and mirrored ski goggles atop white Wayfarer shades, Matthew Pek is ready for the concrete catwalk that stretches along the Hudson River and emanates the eclectic energy of the wild West Village. So is Organicoa, his new café on the promenade by the Christopher Street fountain, neighboring pier 45.
Pek and childhood friend Brett Nidel first launched the little laid-back café with hot cocoa made from a recipe that came together at 2 a.m., using a rating system of smiley faces and sad faces the night before the opening of the nearby High Line. But come summer their main attraction is “frocoa,” a chilled version of that cocoa concoction. The brew boasts just four ingredients: sugar, Holy Kakow’s organic chocolate syrup, and milk and cream from Battenkill Valley Creamery, an upstate family farm whose lucky cows are occasionally treated to a taste of maple syrup.
The chalkboard menu also includes sliders—“Cleaning a grease trap was personally a turning point,” laughs Pek, who is a licensed attorney. CEO, brand ambassador, manager and, yes, occasional janitor, Pek now handles cases of a different nature: bulk cases of cream.
Organicoa’s cups are biodegradable, the logo tattooed on by a veggie-oil ink press, but its elixir equipment is downright deluxe: a beautiful machine from the Italian brand Ugolini maintains a consistent temperature while stirring and dispensing the simple mixture June through October. Rich in flavor, and studded with surprise little chocolate chunks, frocoa delivers nostalgic comfort, refreshing relief from the urban heat, and even a caffeine kick. If this neighborhood is a playground of extended adolescence, this sweet slushy treat could be its official drink.
Photo credit: Michael Harlan Turkell