26 June 2012

The NYC Caffeine Chronicles

Each time I visit New York, I try to go to at least two or three new espresso bars. This is sometimes hard when there are a few places that I really love and want to keep going back to, but usually means I discover a few great new places to caffeinate. I may do a map of some of my favourite independent espresso bars in the city in the near future, but in the meantime, here are a few of the places I discovered last week.

1. Bowery Coffee (NoLIta). I was happy to find that this cool coffee house, in a 100-year-old building endowed with Lower East Side history, was only a couple of blocks away from my hotel. The inside is kitted out in industrial chic. My macchiato was very good (they use Counter Culture coffee), and a whole ranged of caffeinated beverages, iced and un-, are available. Basically, it's a really nice place to hang out and warm up / cool down (delete according to the season) with a decent brew. 89 East Houston Street nr Bowery. Website.

Macchiato at Bowery Coffee

2. Saturdays Surf (SoHo). I had actually intended to check out another espresso bar, a few blocks away, but it wasn't what I was expecting, so instead, I decided to try out Saturdays Surf, which has been on my to-caffeinate list for a while. Saturdays Surf is a surf shop with an espresso bar--or perhaps vice-versa--situated on one of the quieter blocks of Crosby Street. The barista apologised for the lack of latte art on my macchiato, but it still tasted good. The laid-back attitude and the small courtyard garden out back are definitely this place's best features, however. A great spot to chill when SoHo gets a little too intense. 31 Crosby Street bet. Broome and Grand. Website.

Mackers and macchiatos at Saturdays Surf

3. Gasoline Alley Coffee (NoHo). I dived into here desperate for air con on the sweltering morning that was last Thursday. Sadly, they didn't have any (or, at least, it wasn't turned on), and it may have been just has hot inside as on the benches in the sun outside. Maybe this is why it felt like my macchiato was served slightly too hot and wasn't as flavoursome as some of the others I've sampled in Manhattan. Don't get me wrong--it was still good and Gasoline Alley is a cool hang-out--but New York sets very high standards for coffee. 331 Lafayette Street bet. Houston and Bleecker. Website.

Gasoline Alley Coffee. Truck costs extra.

4. Blue Bottle (Chelsea). Originally from the Bay Area, Blue Bottle now has a small series of espresso bars in New York too. "We roast coffee on vintage gear, put it in compostable bags, and still get it to our customers within 48 hours," they say. Pretty impressive stuff and my macchiato, supped at the the Chelsea branch (West 15th Street), was really good. I also tried an iced New Orleans coffee, purchased from the pop-up branch on the High Line (in the Chelsea Market Passage, near 16th Street), which was refreshing and tasted great. They also have a branch at the Rockefeller Center, which is useful given how hard it can be sometimes to find decent coffee in Midtown. 450 West 15th Street nr 10th Avenue. Website.

L: Blue Bottle's High Line pop-up. R: Sampling the macchiato in Chelsea. 

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