PARK SLOPE – The layout of 279 5th Avenue (at 1st Street) hasn’t changed much since Henri on 5th vacated last summer and Velvette Brew opened there last week, but instead of bar food and board games, the focus of the new business is coffee.
A row of high-top tables still lines the center of the sun-filled space with a counter/bar to the right where customers can order from a selection of specialty coffee drinks made with Intelligentsia beans.
“We spent around six months finding the perfect bean,” Kirill Likov, one of the owners of Velvette Brew, said Tuesday morning. “We tried a few different companies, around 50 to 60 different companies [in total]. It takes time because every single company has lots of choices, lots of types of beans. We had to try everything. You get an overdose if you drink too much, so that’s why it took so long,” he added with a laugh.
Likov and Parviz Mukhamadkulov launched their first Velvette Brew coffee shop at 251 Smith Street (between Douglass & Degraw) in Carroll Gardens in July 2017. “We decided to find a spot from Prospect Park to Red Hook to DUMBO—somewhere in this location because it’s a really nice area. We live really close and people here are really nice,” Likov explained. Following the success of their first café, the business partners decided to open a second outpost in Park Slope a year later.
While Mukhamadkulov manages the business side of the company, Likov, a “professional barista with 12 years experience” works at the cafés serving customers. Likov was previously a Chief Barista for the international Italian café chain Segafredo Zanetti in his native Azerbaijan. He moved to the United States five and a half years ago and settled in Brooklyn. He initially held several jobs at a time to save up money to start his own business. “I always had one job at a coffee place to keep [up] my skills and [because] I really love this work,” he explained.
He met Mukhamadkulov, a native of Uzbekistan, while working at a friend’s restaurant and the two became fast friends. “Usually it’s hard to have [business] partners, but we have a really good relationship,” Likov said. “We always talk if we have problems. That is most important, if people can communicate.”
Velvette Brew offers coffee lovers unique drinks only available at their shops, including their signature, The Velvette, which includes espresso, milk, milk foam, vanilla, and a bit of brown sugar. Created by Likov, the creamy concoction has just a hint of sweetness and a rich, velvety smooth foamy top.
Likov also serves Marocchino at his shops—”a shot drink with espresso, a touch of milk, milk foam, and house-made chocolate. It’s like a macchiato,” he said, but with a slightly sweet twist. Velvette Brew also serves pastries from Amy’s Bread as well as some specialty items, like Kuku, a traditional Azerbaijan egg-based “pie” with herbs and spices, and house-made pierogis. Since there’s a kitchen at the new 5th Avenue space, Likov said they will start offering a light brunch menu in a couple of months.
If the coffee at Velvette Brew isn’t enough to perk you up, the baristas will. “People are starting their day with us,” said Likov, “so we are trying to give them good emotions, a good start to their day.”
279 5th Avenue (at 1st Street), Park Slope
Hours: 7am to 6pm daily