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Interview: Jason Woodside

We speak with one-half of the duo behind Happy Bones, NYC's new low-key coffee shop serving up Kiwi favorites

by CH Contributor in Food + Drink on 28 November 2012

by Frank Galland

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Billing itself as an "undercover espresso bar," Happy Bones Coffee & Publications was recently opened in Manhattan's NoHo neighborhood by Kiwi clothier Luke Harwood of Stolen Girlfriends Club and contemporary artist and Florida native Jason Woodside. Fronted by Bond No. 7's storefront, Happy Bones contains a shop for design objects, art books and magazines, while serving up sludge in the back amidst a speakeasy vibe removed from the shuffle of Broadway. After meeting down under, Harwood and Woodside caught the coffee bug and decided to bring some Aussie and Kiwi flavor to NYC's caffeine scene in the form of indigenous Oceania concoctions like the Flat White and Long Black. We caught up with Woodside to talk about how Happy Bones—and its decidedly low-key, back-to-basics ethos—came to be.

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Why did you decide it was time to go into the coffee business?

I think the core of it was we just wanted a place that served good coffee, a place where we could go and hang or have a meeting and be surrounded by like-minded people.

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What are some of the different ways that espresso culture in New Zealand deviates from the classic Italian or Latin styles more commonly known here in New York.

Claiming the New Zealand culture thing wasn't so major for us as we just wanted to supply a solid product using premium ingredients in a consistent way. I think the attention to detail is what was translated out of listening to those Australian and New Zealand coffee cultures.

You also brought Patrick Watson and Rachel Moyle as baristas to get the right style, can you talk about their relationship to Happy Bones?

Those guys know their coffee, they can supply the best at high volume and it's as consistent as it gets. They worked in the coffee business back in New Zealand, places Luke would frequent and I would stop through when I was in the country. I think when this thing was coming together they played a huge part. They were the ones that made the espresso in their style, the stuff we wanted to share here.

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How important was it to design the right atmosphere for serving and enjoying coffee?

We didn't think too hard on the atmosphere as we just made some sketches and pulled some nice furniture pieces as add-ons. Primarily we want to make a place that's cool for us, a place we thought we'd go to. After we had a direction, we were confident the other stuff would just come together organically based on our common interests.

Images by Frank Galland

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