It can be hard out there on the mean streets of New York City. And in the seemingly small, compact, twisty streets of the Financial District, you wouldn't think it would be so hard to find your liquid assets in the form of a delicious cup of coffee. And yet, the world of culinary sophisticates and fixie riders that tend to bring this wave of tightly-foamed milk and slowly dripped microlots have not but dipped their toes on these shores. So if you're a trader in need of a treat, or a venture capitalist in search of an adventurous cappuccino, we offer a brief survival guide.
Australian espresso bars in New York City are like Spanish missions in California: it's a biological, philosophical imperative to bring one of the world's strongest coffee cultures to our faraway region. Bluestone Lane, which opened its first shop in midtown earlier this year, opened this fall in a repurposed art deco vestibule on Broad Street (though you won't be able to enter on that side unless you work in the building). Ever had a Sightglass-roasted Flat White while seated in what used to be a revolving door? No? Why, now you can. Probably serving up the highest quality espresso and brewed drinks in the neighborhood, Bluestone Lane is a warm, welcome, eccentric newcomer to the FiDi coffee landscape. Food options include jam cookies as well as the essential avo-smash toastie. Fight your way through the legions of trading-tourists taking photos of the NYSE with their iPads and pay a visit to Bluestone Lane—it's worth it.
If Australia's not your thing, how about Scandinavia? The lower Manhattan outpost of this Nordic-themed chocolatier and cafe offers a sleek respite from the comingled confusion of Stone Street tourism and the bustle of the stock world. They check all the boxes—locally roasted coffee, Synesso espresso machine, and a beautifully modern shop—but there's something a tiny bit off here (maybe it's the pervasive smell of dill, or the soup of the day.) That said, Fika does a competent job in a tough landscape, and though the cappuccino we tried was a bit thin, it paired well with a lingonberry-chili truffle, and we can see a jar of the house blueberry-rosemary spread making a nice gift for your hedge fund manager. Just saying.
The original location of Blue Spoon Coffee was one of the very first cafes in the city to use Chicago's Intelligentsia, attempting sophisticated coffee preparation in a tiny space on Chambers Street maybe a few years before New Yorkers were even really ready. The Chambers shop has endured and has been joined by a newer, more spacious location on William Street, serving Balthazar and Ceci-Cela pastries, big ol' salads, bagels, and all the usual lunch fare, along with—and this loyalty is rare in coffee nowadays—Intelligentsia coffee, on pourover brew bar as well as espresso machine. A respectable place ready to meet your many FiDi needs.
If you're unable to get to one of these cafes in an emergency situation, we also recommend a stop at Financier. They're a bit more focused on baking than craft coffee, but they sport a three-group La Marzocco amid the array of macarons. Got a long lunch hour? Venture up to Soho and visit Everyman Espresso, or—for another few months—Box Kite, a wee little pop-up serving fine coffees inside Maslow 6.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs and writes about coffee and tea all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is the creator of Nice Coffee Time, a book of photographs of the best coffee in the world, published by Presspop., is the New York City correspondent for Sprudge.com, and contributes to other outfits worldwide.