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Coffee the Train Man will not return to Cortelyou Road • Brooklyn Paper

Coffee the Train Man will not return to Cortelyou Road

Coffee says he asks for no money, but he treats his gig like it's his job, rising every day at 3:30 am and working for nothing but coffee, cigarettes, and tips.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

There are a lot of cafes on Cortelyou Road, but you won’t find Coffee anywhere.

Subway sentinel Coffee the Train Man said he won’t be returning to the Cortelyou Road Q station where he alerted commuters about oncoming trains, fearing that he will run into the woman who filed a restraining order against him.

“I can’t go back until 2014,” said Coffee, who was released from the Brooklyn House of Detention last week after hammering out a plea deal in which he agreed to stay away from the woman, who takes the Q train.

The woman claimed Coffee struck her during a confrontation at the station last December.

“I’m going to try and find another spot to work, because I know everybody is looking for me,” he said.

Coffee was a neighborhood fixture on the sidewalk above the Cortelyou Road station, where his booming voice warned straphangers about arriving trains — giving them time to buy a coffee and paper and, sometimes, a cup of joe for Coffee.

But Coffee hasn’t been back to the station since March 22, after cops arrested him for violating his alleged victim’s order of protection.

Coffee claims he never struck the woman and accepted the plea bargain — in which he did not cop to the alleged assault — only to avoid more time in the slammer.

The subway sentinel made a meager living from the tips appreciative commuters gave him for being a human MTA countdown clock, but said he didn’t know which station he will bring his talents to now. The unique open-trench design of the Cortelyou Road station provided Coffee with the ability to spot oncoming trains in the distance — but there are few stations like it in Brooklyn.

The Beverly Road station has a similar design, but it’s out of the question because of its proximity to Cortelyou Road, Coffee said, noting that without a place to announce approaching trains, he’ll be looking ahead at some tough times.

“This is going to be hard,” said Coffee, explaining that his life as the Train Man allowed him to break from his past as a drug user. “I’ll have to go get back on food stamps.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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