The warm, spiced aroma of coffee combines deliciously with the bouquet of well-loved paperbacks at Molasses Books in Bushwick. The unpretentious yet gloriously hip establishment boasts an abundance of used, well-curated books and champions weekly community events, readings, book talks, karaoke nights and an allegedly-sexy chess club.
When I ordered my black coffee, the barista asked me: “Do you want to open a tab or close out?” That’s when I noticed the locally-brewed beers and wines along the back wall. Café and bar staples come in either mugs or Mason jars and are reasonably priced in the two- to eight-dollar range. A handwritten sign reads “no laptops after 8,” keeping the spot about books, good drinks and get-togethers.
Molasses owner Matt Winn’s mellow yet savory vinyl collection plays, baristas pausing occasionally to set the needle or flip the record. When I visited the café this Thursday, the timelessly bohemian Chelsea Girls by Nico was spinning — the band that starred in Andy Warhol’s 1966 movie.
The unassuming storefront lets lots of sunlight in, and once inside, warm chatter fills the air. A box bursting with locally-produced zines stands by the front door, and as I sat and sipped my coffee, I overheard Winn tell an artist, who stopped by, that he sells all types of zines and pays fairly.
“Come back soon and bring your work, we always try to display other artist’s zines,” Winn said.
Winn is a welcoming soul and is often found chatting with Molasses’s many interesting patrons. He told me his brother drew the intricate medallion directly on the wall behind the bar in ordinary pencil when the shop opened in June of 2012.
A lover of books myself, I asked Winn if he had a favorite. Little did he know I was going to add it to my running list.
“I guess I do,” Winn said. “The Journal of Albion Moonlight by Kenneth Patchen.”
If you like good books and a homegrown atmosphere, Molasses is the bookstore you’ve been waiting for. Molasses is open Monday through Friday, from 11:00am until midnight; on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10:00am until midnight.