Coffee Chronicles, NYC: Changes Already at Kava Cafe


[Photos: Liz Clayton]

Just steps from where the High Line takes flight, well-heeled Washington Street has itself a coffee shop apart from the others. Handsome Kava Cafe is decked out in the striated wood and moody gold-toned features of an art deco theatre lobby—or maybe that of an apartment building. And they'd like to brew you a cup as sophisticated as their environs.

The cafe, which opened just at the beginning of this year, has spared no expense outfitting itself with the shiniest new toys this side of RBC NYC. (Yes, those are indeed two three-group La Marcocco Strada MP espresso machines behind the bar, allowing Kava baristas the newest in pressure-surfing espresso technology...and clearly anticipating a gigantic, Meatpacking-calibre rush.)

Though the shop originally used Stumptown beans, they've already changed the game to surprising Annapolis, MD roaster Caffe Pronto, whose espresso and single origin filter coffees aren't widely available in NYC. And with the change in roasters heralded an expanded array of brew methods: manual brewed coffees are now available on a Hario V60 pourover bar, or via the quirky Aeropress. (And rather than waste paper, Kava is using the reusable stainless steel KONE and DISK coffee filters made by Portland's Coava for both methods.)

A traditional menu of espresso drinks includes cold brew coffee and even a con panna if you're fancy, as well as a safe selection of sandwiches. And though Caffe Pronto's beans may come with less of a front-loaded pedigree than their predecessor, the macchiato we sampled came sweet and balanced, loaded with caramel tones.

Though it may still be finding its way, all Kava Cafe needs is a tourist-filled city summer to realize all it can be—and to show our west end wanderers the potential of a great coffee.

Kava Cafe

803 Washington Street, New York NY 10014 (map) 212-255-7495;