Terremoto Coffee (Chelsea)
You may feel the Earth move when you visit Terremoto, a petite café near the High Line on West 15th Street, but it will probably be because of the excellent coffee or the gorgeous copper espresso machine rather than the 'earthquake' of its name. The espresso machine is indeed very lovely but you may also be distracted by the Bien Cuit pastries on the counter when you first walk in. The interiors are rustic chic with red-brick walls, colourful artwork and just a couple of small wooden tables for those who want to drink in.
Terremoto were serving two espressos when I visited, both from the excellent Bushwick-based Lofted Coffee: a fruity Bola del Oro from Guatemala and a Gesha Village from Ethiopia, which I only spotted after I had ordered my cortado. The barista offered to make me another cortado with the Gesha if the Bola del Oro wasn't to my taste but it was hard to find fault with the cortado, which was rich and smooth.
Terremoto Coffee is located at 328 West 15th Street bet. Eighth & Ninth Ave. Website. Twitter. Instagram.
The Elk (West Village)
If ever there was a day New York City was in need of some Scandinavian-style hygge at the small, cosy café and general store that is The Elk, it was the Sunday I visited when the heavy sleet refused to stop for the entire day. With its wood-panelled walls and low lighting, heading into The Elk was almost like visiting a sauna — a mild one, anyway, with very good coffee. There are a dozen or so small tables around the edge of the café but it was completely full when I arrived so I had to hover with my cortado for a few moments before I was able to pounce.
The coffee was good and had I had more time, I would have liked to try a pourover as well. I did make time for an excellent peanut butter cookie, though, and ogled the delicious sounding breakfast and lunch menu (comfort food with a twist). The staff were friendly despite the busyness and, like many spots in the West Village, it's a great place for people-watching.
Coffee Project (East Village)
I read about Coffee Project — a slender East Village coffee bar known for its titular coffee projects, most notably its 'deconstructed lattes' — last year and after I didn't get the chance when I was in New York in October, I made sure I visited last month. On a cold but sunny Saturday afternoon, the queue was out of the door: the seating is limited and because the fêted deconstructed lattes are 'dine in' only, it can take a little while to find a seat. Meanwhile, the lighting is worthy of a Brian's Coffee Spot award.
The deconstructed latte ($7) involves a shot of espresso, one shot of milk "pasteurized at a lower temperature for a longer period of time to taste similar to raw milk", and a mini-latte with the same coffee as in the espresso shot. Milky drinks — and especially milk as a drink — aren't my thing, but I decided to give the special a go. The coffee of the day was a Brazilian/Guatemalan blend roasted in Brooklyn. It was nice as an espresso but its chocolatey richness worked better with the milk of the latte. As for the milk shot, I'm not really sure what raw milk is supposed to taste like or why it is desirable, but I didn't have particularly strong feelings about it either way.
Coffee Project also serves a 'nitro flight' (nitro coffee served both black and white), coffee tonic and various sweeter coffee drinks. They serve regular espresso-based drinks too if you are there for the coffee rather than the project. Also, the baristas were incredibly sweet and welcoming, despite the constant stream of Instagramming customers (myself included). As such, if you're feeling experimental, this is a great place to come for coffee.
I've walked past Gotan, which occupies the block of Franklin Street where Varick and West Broadway are about to converge, many times and somehow never made it inside. They serve Counter Culture coffee, as well as breakfast dishes, sandwiches, salads and pastries.
I had already eaten breakfast so I opted for a chocolatey Urcunina coffee from Colombia, brewed through the pourover. Very well brewed, as it turned out, and although Gotan was very busy on the snowy Saturday morning I was there, there is plenty of table space set over several rooms in a historic building with exposed-brick walls and period features, and I enjoyed the lively but relaxed atmosphere.
Gotan is located at 130 Franklin Street nr W. Broadway (there are two further cafés in Midtown and Williamsburg). Website. Twitter. Instagram.