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24 February 2020

New York Speciality Coffee Update — Winter 2020

I spent five days in New York at the beginning of my recent US trip. I was there for work and only had Saturday afternoon and Sunday free in the city, but managed to squeeze in visits to four new-to-me speciality coffee shops. One of these — Yafa Cafe — is all the way down in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, but the wonderfully welcoming Yemeni coffee shop and eatery was well worth the visit even on a short trip.

Citizens of SoHo (SoHo)
I stumbled upon Aussie coffee shop and brunch spot Citizens of SoHo while I was wandering up Lafayette Street. They have several other 'Citizens of' locations, and the SoHo branch had only been open a few days when I visited. I had already eaten brunch but I was very much in the market for coffee.


The coffee is from Partners, a smooth Central and South American espresso blend in the hopper. I ordered a piccolo, which was very well prepared and appropriately petite. The Seasons espresso had a very nice caramel taste with a little milk. It will come as no surprise to regular readers that I was also rather fond of Citizens' teal colour scheme.


Citizens of SoHo is located at 201 Lafayette Street nr Kenmare. Website. Instagram.


East One Coffee Roasters (Chinatown)
Peter from Bao and Butter recommended I check out the coffee from Brooklyn-based roaster East One Coffee. I didn't have chance to visit their Court Street roastery, but I was able to stop by their Baxter Street coffee shop in Chinatown. I arrived in the middle of the Lunar New Year parade and it was busy outside, but there was a more relaxed vibe inside East One.


There were some lovely sounding single-origin coffees available as hand-brewed pourovers but as I'd only just got into the city and wanted more time to explore, I just went for a cortado, which was made with a single-origin Guatemalan coffee, which was immaculately brewed by the friendly barista. East One shares space with the Camera Club of New York, an artist-run organisation that showcases the work of photographers without representation. Some of the work was on display in the cafe, with more photography in the gallery two doors down. Art to accompany your latte art; what's not to like?


East One Coffee is located at 128 Baxter Street nr Hester. Website. Twitter. Instagram.


St Kilda Coffee (Midtown)
Continuing the photography theme, I visited St Kilda after a visit to the nearby B&H photography superstore. As the name suggests it takes its inspiration from Australia — specifically the St Kilda neighbourhood of Melbourne. Located on the 'garden' level on a quiet stretch of West 44th Street, St Kilda is another good option for those hunting for speciality coffee in Midtown.


There are a few tables inside, as well as bench seating outside, and it was completely full, with a queue at the counter, when I arrived on a cold but sunny Sunday afternoon. There was coffee from Brooklyn-based Sey and the Danish La Cabra on offer, and I ordered a cortado with an espresso from Sey, which was great. The funky, yellow-accented décor also reminded me of the wonderful Melbourne in Lichfield back in Blighty, which is always a good thing.


St Kilda Coffee is located at 328 W. 44th Street bet. 8th and 9th Ave. Website. Twitter. Instagram.


Yafa Cafe (Sunset Park, Brooklyn)
On Sunday morning, I took the R train all the way down to 45th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, for breakfast and coffee at Yafa Cafe. Run by two Yemeni-American cousins, the neighbourhood eatery showcases Yemeni speciality coffee alongside Yemen-meets-Brooklyn all-day eats. The cafe was already bustling when I arrived. There seemed to be lots of regulars and the staff gave everyone a warm welcome.


I ordered the Sunset Sammy, a filling and tasty breakfast sandwich with scrambled eggs, caramelised onions, cheese and sriracha mayo on brioche. Another time, I'd like to try the bacon, egg and cheese samboosas (small crisp pastries, a bit like samosas) and the Yafa fried chicken. As for the coffee, Yafa is roasting their own coffee from Yemen, which is available as a pourover for $7. That day, they were serving the Obarah, which had dark chocolate, green apple and vanilla notes and was delicious. Unfortunately, they aren't quite ready to sell their retail bags of beans just yet, although you can buy coffee from East One, which they use for the batch-brew filter coffee and espresso at present.


Yafa Cafe is located at 4415 4th Avenue nr 45th St. Website. Instagram.


As I was staying near my office in the Financial District, I also revisited two of my favourite FiDi speciality coffee haunts two more times: the orange-accented Café Grumpy on Stone Street and Black Fox Coffee on Pine. There was a particularly fruity Kenyan coffee from Aussie roaster Wood and Co available on filter at the latter, which I enjoyed in my new Fellow Carter Everywhere mug on my office's 47th floor. Incidentally, the mug has been great for travel: it seals tightly (and indeed an Aeropress fits so well that I was even able to carry the whole set-up one-handed over to my desk without fearing of it falling) and is very pleasing to drink from. I got plenty of compliments from baristas too.



For 80+ more of my favourite coffee shops in New York, please check out my speciality coffee guide; I've also included below my updated NYC speciality coffee map.



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