“Some people may say we’re crazy,” says Sippy Cafe manager Serena Shao, one week into the new coffee shop’s opening. But for her and owner Judy Zhu, college roommates who graduated in 2020, opening a business just made the most sense while spending their early twenties in a pandemic.
“We wanted to explore this idea for years,” Shao said. She and Zhu had both worked at Tim Horton’s when attending college upstate, and now they’re taking advantage of low rent, and locals’ desire for grab-and-go items to open the specialty coffee shop of their dreams.
Within three weeks of deciding to pursue Sippy Cafe, Zhu secured the space of a former flower shop at 208 Franklin St. The buildout was quick, and the native New Yorkers commissioned artist Henry Li to create a Brooklyn-esque mural at the back of the store. Plants surround the walls for a soothing aesthetic, and most notably, dogs are welcome, and encouraged to visit the shop. Sippy plans to host dog meetups once the pandemic situation improves and a puppuccino with organic peanut butter whipped cream is soon expected on the menu.
The human menu features classic French pastries from Pain d’ Agignon in Long Island City and coffee from a small roaster in Williamsburg. Dairy is sourced from Long Island City’s Dairy Wagon
“We want something the neighborhood will enjoy, nothing too exotic, and put an Asian twist to it, tho show that a little change isn’t bad,” Shao said. Many of Sippy Cafe’s teas and specialty drinks are based on Asian flavors, like a black sesame latte and an ube latte. Japanese curry sandwiches and a cooked tuna sandwich inspired by a spicy tuna roll also keep the concept.
Sippy Cafe also offers a happiness guarantee- if you don’t like your drink, baristas will replace it at no charge.