New Harlem coffee shop 9 Tails is a real zen oasis

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

It's only one block from traffic-choked 125th Street, but coffee shop 9 Tails feels miles away.

Located in the light-filled ground floor of a historic Harlem brownstone, the new spot opened last month at 34 W 126th Street between Fifth Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard.

Owner John Cho named the cafe after the East Asian fox spirit–it also happens to be a Pokemon character–and has given it a zen-like look and feel.

The large, all-white space is furnished with blonde wood tables and benches paired with sculptural pieces of driftwood and hanging plants.

Shelves of plants are also visible behind the glass doors in the kitchen, but they belong to Mushtari Hardware, a separate business that guests have to go around the block to reach.

The open small kitchen and bar offers premium coffee from a revolving range of roasters like Tandem Coffee Roasters from Portland, Maine, tea, as well as pastries and cookies, some of which are made in-house; sandwiches, too, are coming soon.

Maybe Cho's most zen-like decision is to keep 9 Tails wifi-free–a rule he also adhered to at Betola, his former East Village espresso bar.

He encourages guests to grab a coffee or tea and leave the laptops at home. Says Cho, "The focus is to provide a nice, calm environment to enjoy your coffee."

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