12 March 2014

The NYC Caffeine Chronicles: March 2014 Update

Finding good coffee in Midtown Manhattan, where I was staying on my recent trip, used to be challenging but I didn't do too badly on the coffee front. First, I discovered two new-to-me branches of old favourites within a few blocks of my hotel: Ninth Street Espresso's branch in the Lombardy Hotel on East 56th Street, near Park, and Gregorys Coffee on East 55th Street, near Madison. Most mornings, I would run in Central Park and then pick up coffee and tea from my family from one of these two venues. Sadly, Little Collins was just that bit too far to go before breakfast.

At Gregorys, I had a lovely Aeropress brew of a Guatemalan coffee called La Bella — this mini-chain always manages to combine efficiency, simple style and great coffee in touristy (and thus good-coffee-deprived) areas.

I loved the sleek, monochrome look of the coffee bar at Ninth Street Espresso. Their brewed coffee was really good, and I had good reports from Dad about the cappuccino — espresso with milk, as they call it here.

A new coffee discovery for me this trip was Toby's Estate on Fifth Avenue, near 21st Street. Toby's is narrow inside and super sleek with white walls, white cups and a gorgeous white coffee machine. I tried a pourover — a Colombian Andino — which was rich, smooth and nutty, just how I like it.

At the back of the shop, which is connected to the adjacent Club Monaco, is another room filled with a carefully curated selection of books and fresh flowers for sale: a really lovely place to browse.

Saturday involved visits to new-to-me branches of coffee bars I've visited before: Irving Farm's wonderful, circular bar in the middle of Grand Central Station's dining concourse. Although the roundness makes queuing a little complicated, they brewed me a delicious pourover in a dripper so beautiful that I would have bought it had it not been out of stock. In the vain hope that more coffee would help my body to recover from the bacon-fest that was Saturday brunch, I also grabbed a pourover from Blue Bottle's Gotham West Market branch.

I wanted to pick up a bag of Stumptown beans before I left, but didn't have time to go all the way to the Village, so I paid a visit instead to Ports in Chelsea, which I thought used Stumptown beans. When I got there, though, they seemed to be offering up bags of their own beans instead. I had already had a lot of coffee that day, so I opted for an espresso, which was smooth and flavoursome, and the small espresso bar was a cool, laid-back place to chill out for a few minutes on a busy Saturday. I'll have to try their beans some other time!

Ninth Street Espresso. 109 East 56th Street nr Park (Midtown East). Website. Other locations.
Gregorys Coffee. 551 Madison Avenue nr 55th St (enter on 55th St; Midtown East). Website. TwitterOther locations.
Toby's Estate. 160 Fifth Avenue nr 21st St (Flatiron). Website. TwitterOther locations.
Irving Farm. 89 East 42nd Street nr Park (Midtown South). Website. TwitterOther locations.
Blue Bottle Coffee. 600 11th Avenue @ 45th St (Hell's Kitchen). Website. Twitter. Other locations.
Ports. 251 West 23rd Street bet. 7th & 8th Ave (Chelsea). Website.

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