There’s so much good coffee to be had in the Hudson Valley. Still, the discovery of a new venue is always rewarding – particularly when it’s installed in a multi-use establishment that houses your other passions, too. Moto Coffee Machine combines expertly brewed or pressed coffee drinks with handcrafted waffle treats and (this writer’s other passion) motorcycles! You can order up a scrumptious egg sandwich, sip your red eye and wander around a well-stocked accessory and gear shop, replete with classic café racers parked here and there on display, all under one roof.
Coffee master Aaron Dibben, one-time Swallow owner, remembers a couple of years back when Antony Katz would drop in for his morning brew. “Antony had a design space down the street, with motorcycles taken apart and beautifully laid out in the front window. I’d joked with him a few times, like, ‘Hey, so, when’re you gonna open up a motorcycle shop?’ He told me about this multi-use space concept, and it went from there. We worked on the layout of the coffee bar and it took a couple of months to put together. We’ve been here for two years now.”
The evolution of Moto Coffee Machine began when Katz, a graphic designer, needed to put his hands to work. The graphics industry was so altered by the digital revolution that a designer no longer had to handle much of anything: no more handing work to a printer or film developer, no more hand-designing. “I’d had a company for 20 years, ten of which was housed in this space. At some point, I realized all that was fallen by the wayside,” he explains. “Even client meetings are being done on Google Hangout now. There’s nothing going on that isn’t on my computer screen, and I was desperate for something to do with my hands.
“I was a mechanic before becoming a graphic designer; I’ve always been a gearhead, always had a motorcycle. It seemed to make perfect sense for the space. People would come in and talk to me about motorcycles and get excited about the way I was building them. As a designer you have to be very neat, so I’d lay my tools out very neatly. I had this fantasy about a motorcycle shop and having this component that would bring other non-motorcycle people in: coffee.
“In the meantime I met Kate, a chef. And what a perfect complement to good coffee: to have, in that European way, some food. For a year, I wondered how I was going to compete with my friends up the road where I’d buy my coffee every day. Then I realized I could just ask them to close their current location and have them come inhabit part of Moto Coffee Machine. I’d build up the space and all the branding would be mine, but they’d have a really nice space.” It turns out that Katz made this proposal the very day the Dibbens lost their lease.
“We’re a multi-roaster shop, so we change up our menu on a regular basis,” says Dibben. “We’ve been working with 49th Parallel for quite awhile, and Sweet Bloom out of Denver for about six months, and a couple of roasters out of New York City, several others. We rotate which beans we use, always working with a single-origin for our filtered coffee.”
The Coffee Bar is at the front of the shop, and is attached to a food counter area where Kate Darling makes cakes and pastries and pairs waffles with tasty accompaniments, both sweet and savory. Darling went to chef school at the French Culinary Institute, and later wrote a book about her experience. “We decided we would not have an open-flame kitchen here,” she says. “And that presented an interesting challenge for me: cooking without a real kitchen. Everything here is plug-in, all-electric. This is more fun; I enjoy coming up with concepts that are outside of the box. I’m working on Book Two, loosely based on Moto and starting a life together with Antony, blending a family with four kids. Sort of like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, only with children and a kitchen!”
Behind the coffee bar and food counter, a large retail space houses tables and shelves and racks of riding gear. When the buildout was underway, Katz thought about building a ramp or a raising/lowering mechanism out the back door to be able to move motorcycles in and out. “I realized I don’t need to do all that. I can just wheel the motorcycles in through the front door, past all the coffee-drinking people. People kind of love that.
“The bikes I work on are only the bikes that are in the space on the floor. We have a mechanic who will work on customer bikes, but not in this space. I’m basically building motorcycles out of vintage wrecks. My favorite bike to work on is Moto Guzzi, and there are very few parts available. You do end up fabricating a lot of parts.”
An avid motorcyclist, Katz had stopped riding when he moved to New York City from the UK. “I had a 1967 Cadillac convertible instead. It was so great; it would take up the whole block. I had this luck: I was able to park it wherever I went.” He has shared his passion for riding with his children. “When we bought the building in Hudson, I spent a lot of time with my eldest, who is now 11. I realized after a couple of years that I really needed something just for me. I found a Moto Guzzi on eBay that was in terrible condition, and I restored it. Now I ride every day, through the winter. My children ride motorcycles, and I built a little motocross track. It’s really awesome, riding with your children.”
Katz says he is not interested in opening other locations and doesn’t have a long-range plan for Moto Coffee Machine. “I do want to add value to the community. Hopefully, we can start running seminars, workshops for basic maintenance that riders ought to know: how to change the oil or the tire, and what chain maintenance means. A lot of people don’t know these things. What I want to do, in a very warm and supportive environment, is to teach them. I want to continue expanding the motorcycle parts a bit. And the food – we want to expand the food.”
Moto Coffee Machine is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days. It’s located at 357 Warren Street in Hudson; for more info, call (518) 822-8232, or visit www.facebook.com/the-coffee-bar-at-moto-coffee-machine-136590018224.