Larry Larson, owner of coffee roaster Larry’s Coffee, has returned to the coffee shop business.
42 & Lawrence has been open about two weeks in the first floor of the new Skyhouse building in downtown Raleigh. I sat down with Larson and his managers to talk about the new shop and what sets it apart.
Larson started in the coffee business in the early 1990s, working at Cup-a-Joe and later as a co-owner of Paradigm Coffee House in Cary’s Waverly Place shopping center. Larson went on to roast his own coffee but always wanted to get back to owning a coffeehouse. By Larson’s count, he tried three other times to open a coffeehouse, including a deal that fell apart in downtown Cary due to Academy Street construction.
But Larson was determined to open a coffeehouse, especially since he likes to experiment. “One of the reasons I wanted to do a coffee shop again is we get direct interface with the consumer,” Larson said. “You could call it Larry’s Lab.”
Now Larson has it with 42 & Lawrence (the name is a play on philosopher Voltaire saying that the perfect cup of coffee required 42 coffee beans.) In many ways, it is a shop that only Larson would create. “We’re creating the place that I personally want to go to,” Larson said this week.
There’s a line of what look like beer taps along the wall. They serve cold brew coffee, which has been popping up on tap at other coffee shops in the area. One tap offers nitro cold brew, which adds nitrogen to the coffee as it is poured, like bartenders do when pouring a Guinness beer. (The coffee comes out with a head of foam, like a Guinness.) There’s also a tap for a “draft latte,” which may be a first in the Triangle coffee scene. It serves a mixture of cold brew coffee, Jersey cow milk and a housemade vanilla syrup (think a light coffee milkshake). You also can order a “Black and Tan,” a nod to the Guinness beer order, but this is cold brew coffee and the draft latte.
Also on tap are kombucha, a fermented tea beverage by Raleigh-based Tribucha, seltzer to make specialty seltzer drinks, and coffee experiments, like Larson’s cask-conditioned coffees or hopped cold brew coffees. They also don’t just serve Larry’s Beans; they plan to serve coffee by other roasters, like Desert Sun Coffee Roasters, Kickapoo Coffee Roasters and Conscious Coffees.
The espresso bar is also different; it is a sleek modbar that puts the espresso equipment under the counter so the barista is not hidden from the customer’s view. “We wanted to make it so that side of the counter can talk to this side of the counter,” Larson said.
Beyond the taps and espresso bar, the shop also offers Lucettegrace pastries and cold-pressed juices using local, seasonal produce with the ability to mix-and-match flavors. Larson said they may later offer gourmet sweet and savory toast later but want to keep food offerings simple.
Info: 134 E. Martin St., Raleigh, facebook.com/42-Lawrence-1598206150441106/?fref=ts, Hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.