29 September 2009

coffee stops

When not witnessing what has got to be the most beautiful wedding ceremony in the history of wedding ceremonies, during which the groom stood watching his future bride wait for Saint-Saens' "The Swan" to begin so she could walk down the aisle & he subtly urged her with nothing but excitement & love to hurry up so he could marry the hell out of her already ("Come on, come on, come on ... "), I was drinking a lot of coffee.

I hit Manhattan at 5pm Friday, was indisposed all of Saturday (with, you know, that gorgeous, simple, elegant, touching wedding), I was back in New York at close to noon, & I left for my flight at 6:30. That's roughly nine hours devoted to coffee (& the getting-to of it).

Friday, I covered Manhattan. Sunday was Brooklyn. I had a macchiato at each place & sometimes one other drink. Behold: Where I went, & one notable thing about each place.

GIMME! COFFEE, 228 Mott Street (at Prince & Spring). Crazy friendly staff who picked up on my questions about their beans & took the conversation further still into coffee geekdom's dark, delicious heart.

NINTH STREET ESPRESSO, 700 East 9th Street (at Loisaida). Young whippersnapper standing in front of a chalkboard sign with seven drinks listed. Seven! That's it! I didn't see because I wasn't looking, but I don't remember a station for customers to add cream & sugar to their coffee*.

* What if there were a shop with no cream or sugar, at all? WHAT IF. Wait, I like cream in my Toddy. Damn.

STUMPTOWN AT THE ACE HOTEL, 20 West 29th Street (at Broadway). Stylish, professional, friendly. But not too friendly. At other shops, I felt at ease asking questions about the components of their blends, what kind of machines they were brewing on, &c. But at this place, there was a high-end service air that, while very nice indeed, kept me at a distance. Part of this may have been a function of the physical layout of the place — I'm not particularly tall. The counter, it was tall. Or the baristas are tall, or are raised up on a platform, or something. They were ... higher than me.

- - - - - - - - -

SOUTHSIDE COFFEE, 652 6th Avenue (at 17th Street). I was served by Intelligentsia's newly-named East Coast Educator, Ramin Narimani! He seemed genuinely excited to meet an Intelligentsia person, & we talked shop for a good long time. I hope he swings through Los Angeles, as he's a helluva chap.

GIMME! COFFEE, 495 Lorimer Street (at Powers). Chock fulla customers who stood at the espresso bar & talked (about coffee, mostly). The barista was in the middle of giving coffee recommendations in Los Angeles when I walked up to the bar!

CAFE GRUMPY, 193 Meserole (at Diamond). HUGE space with two rooms — small tables out front & larger tables in a more brightly-lit room out back. They've recently started roasting their own beans, though I don't know if that's what I was drinking — I knew the barista, as it happens, & we spent most of the time talking about people, not beans. Notable for me, but not for you ... I'm sorry.

More beholding:
· New York is no longer the land of dishwater coffee I remember. That was a rough time, the late nineties/early naughts. (It was during this Rough Time that my brother gave me a French Press. Thank you, Brian!)
· I half-expected baristas in New York to be standoffish & wary of my pointed questions, but across the board, they were friendly & informed & happy to talk about their beans, machines, brew methods, &c. Yay.
· It seems there are more specialty coffee shops in Brooklyn than in Manhattan. This makes sense to me; Manhattan is a busy hub, with people rushing to and from all boroughs & even home. (Yes, some people with more money than sense live in Manhattan. I KNOW.) But people live in Brooklyn. It's where they spend their downtime, their weekends. They take time, because they have time, & they are willing to wait a couple minutes for coffee that tastes good. Brooklyn is also where a lot of creative arty types live, & arty types are, by definition, aesthetes, & one aspect of aestheticism is the sense of taste. POW.

That's it! See y'all at Station 2.

1 comment:

Katie O'Shea said...


(Mostly for my benefit, so I know where to find this list later):

"TampTamp Blog's New York City Top 9 of 2009 list."