What's a Coffee Commentary?
Subject: Ninth Street Espresso
Location visited: Manhattan, NY
(Alphabet City location)
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]
*12/18/07 - Update follows original post
A question I've had for the longest time when I've looked at maps of Manhattan is why the East Village has no subway service at all (take a look for yourself)? In past trips with friends, this tidbit of information just meant that if someone wanted to stop there, we'd walk through it, though never did we ever make it further east then First Ave.
That was until recently, when I had finally realized where Ninth St Espresso was; smack near the East River (this was prior to the new Union Square location opening, with its many subway hubs nearby). NSE had received a whole bunch of hype, stretching from enthusiastic praise from coffee professionals to the regular press, thus I figured such a place warranted a small detour.
So on a past trip with friends, being the optimist that I am, I figured it wouldn't be a big deal to gravitate that way, though I also didn't want to drag them on a long walk only I wished to travel. Long story short, our travels didn't go anywhere near East Village (pick your battles), that is until the very end of the day when my dear angel (fiancee') and I split off to head back to NJ early in order to get home for a preplanned soiree. Seeing as we had a little time at the last minute, I begged if we could take a small detour(?) to grab coffee (a plea she knows well), to which she ever-so-graciously agreed(!).
So we briskly walked to NSE (a walk that took much longer then either of us expected) and arrived to find the place jam-packed with people, not a single table even close to unoccupied. The NSE-ers behind the counter worked in an organized flurry of action, getting people very efficiently through the line.
As noted on their site, they serve up Counter Culture out of North Carolina, a coffee roasting giant fairly common in NYC (also at Cafe Grumpy). I watched NSE brew my coffee in a french press (they don't do drip and only offer one size, which I think is 16 oz) and it came out well, with a real smooth taste. The espresso, to which they garner most of their hype, truly held up to the good reviews. It tasted great, with a nice acidity and brightness.
Overall, the stop would have proved to be much more worth the while if it hadn't been for the fact that my detour took about 30 minutes longer then anticipated. I would love to make it back to the original E 9 St location some day, but unless I'm alone or in the area, I think I'll probably stop by the newer Union Square locale.
Quick correction about their other locations: the Union Square location is now Everyman Espresso and they now have (or have had) a location in the Chelsea Market (which is still more convenient then Alphabet City).