Though the continually expanding New York City coffee scene is often made up of newcomers, it's also natural for existing shops to replicate themselves in other parts of town. What's not always natural is for them to outdo themselves tenfold.
'Counter Culture Coffee' on Serious Eats
The second project of Spruce Street Espresso founders Betty and Faith Ortiz (and conveniently located down the street from their first cafe), Odd Fellows comes nipping at the heels of a Philadelphia coffee revolution—which Spruce Street was at the forefront of, not so incidentally—and does one better by adding service, spaciousness...and a plate of fish tacos. In a city where they're neither the truly old guard (iconoclastic yet traditional roasters La Colombe reserve that seat at the bar) or the flavor of the month, the Ortizes hope to keep their hold on local coffee cups by focusing most on quality—something combined cafes and restaurants seem to rarely excel at.
Espresso is the main attraction here (beyond the government-issued institutional clock, the crazy railway station lights, the cast iron bolt-turned-lid-carousel, and the cream station salvaged from a Lehman Bros. jewelry studio, that is)—drip is on offer via urn brewer, with plans to introduce a pourover menu to the newborn cafe as soon as staff are ready. (Early visions of roasting their own are, too, on hold until taking on another giant project seems practical.)
Been Parking your Slopes or Cobbling your Hills with little clue as to where best to sit and sip? The food-filled, cute-shop-lined streets of South Brooklyn are full of coffee purveyors eager for a share of your cup. But among them are some truly special spaces whose clean sunny spaces and no-nonsense approach to preparing excellent coffee are joined by exemplary staff, extra-tasty goods, or simply just the right vibe. We round up a few of the finest (notably mourning the indefinite loss of Stumptown's brilliant manual brew tasting bar in Red Hook, now on hiatus due to having too much coffee to store anywhere else) and encourage you to air up the bike tires for a tour.
Bluebird Coffee Shop, the beloved Lower East Side serious-coffee-boîte-and-bakery, changed hands two weeks ago, and is now reopened. The changeover from original owners Mark Connell and wife Jessica Connell to Alex Hall and Sabrina Godfrey, owners of two popular Brooklyn neighborhood cafes (MIlk Bar in Prospect Heights and Cafe Madeleine in Ditmas Park) has spawned an unusual amount of controversy—and sparked an interesting question: what makes a special coffee shop special?
There are few neighborhoods more pleasant for a coffee wander than those on the East Village and Lower East Side of Manhattan. There must be something in the proximity of the East River that just brings the magic—wait, scratch that—at least there's something in the community, anyhow. This list comprises a handful of our favorite coffee destinations in the neighborhood.
At long last, we can call it the city of coffee-ly-love: Philadelphia, long lingering in that spot where a great food city waits for great coffee to chase its heels, has come into its foamy own. Here's a little tour of what's new and brewing.
Ever wonder about how your coffee goes from green to brown, and who's responsible for making it so? I recently caught up with Counter Culture Coffee roaster Jeff McArthur to find out about his life and job behind the beans.
Though the class is still being developed for New York and other cities, let's hope extensions of the professionals-only series evolve for coffee enthusiasts as well—everyone should have the chance to taste a potato-flavored defective coffee bean, after all.