Showing posts with label manhattan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label manhattan. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Qathra Cafe

Subject: Qathra Cafe
Location: Brooklyn, NY
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Many people think that most of New York City is a blurring labyrinth unfit for the visiting motorist. Sure many people who live and work in the area drive around, but most tourists to Manhattan tend to think that driving in the other four boroughs are just as bad as gridlock in Times Square. The truth is that once one gets out of Manhattan, the majority of NYC neighborhoods are fairly drivable and less chaotic.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Birch Coffee

Subject: Birch Coffee
Location Visited: Upper East Side, Manhattan, NY
WiFi?: no
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Despite the enormity of great coffee in Manhattan, it can still be difficult in certain areas to find a great stop later in the day. Sadly, not all New York City cafes are created equal, and especially for those who enjoy an evening cup of lovingly-crafted joe, it can be hard to locate a provider. Fortunately, the quality coffee scene grows stronger and shops are expanding like wildfire, but in the meantime there is one place in particular that always seems to be nearby when needed: Birch Coffee.

Monday, July 11, 2016

City of Saints Coffee Roasters

Subject: City of Saints Coffee Roasters
Location: Hoboken, NJ
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

While the Hudson River is an easily traversed body of water, it amazes me how few businesses drift across from NYC into NJ. Take for example the coffee situation: New York City literally has hundreds of decent coffee stops, many with multiple locations. Yet, across the river in cities like Jersey City and Hoboken, only a smattering of shops with similar quality have reared their heads, and rarely will a NYC coffee entity open a shop in the lands of Jersey. Sure there's lots of reasons for why this happens, but I'm more interested in the few exceptions to this phenomenon, such as City of Saints Coffee Roasters.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Bluebird Coffee Shop

Subject: Bluebird Coffee Shop
Location: Manhattan, NY
WiFi?: yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

I never grow tired of discovering new coffee spots in New York. It's the one city that regardless of how often I stop by, there's always a new or rejuvenated shop to hit. It's a never-ceasing coffee adventure.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Mugged: Cinnamon and Lavender [Le Palais des Thés]

Subject: Le Palais des Thés
Teas Mugged and Rating [see key]:
Lavender Oolong 4+
Cinnamon Black 3+

As the holidays flare up again, the many flavors of spice come roaring into the realm of lauded drink options. Most people think of lattes flavored with gingerbread or peppermint, but there's also quite a few teas that get a little more play in kitchens and coffee bars at this time of year.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

CC: Hi-Collar

Subject: Hi-Collar
Location: Manhattan, NY
No WiFi
Rating: 6+ [see key]

When most people think of stopping by a coffee establishment for their morning fix, the majority think of a large, spacious room where they can sink into isolated bliss with their laptop. In most parts of the country, this model knows no rival (so fear not freelancers and budding authors!). But slowly over the past few years, a handful of spots have dared to spice it up, encouraging different experiences for patrons.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

CC: Box Kite NYC

Subject: Box Kite NYC
Location visited: Manhattan, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

The fight to offer a better coffeehouse experience is a daunting challenge. So many great establishments have set the bar so high that it can be difficult to postulate how one can make a better mousetrap. But truly, I'm surprised every year with a shop or two that's taken the concept to a different level.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

CC: Nolita Mart

Subject: Nolita Mart and Espresso Bar
Location: Manhattan, NYC
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Sadly when many people think of a "convenience store" the concept only conjures up images of a Kwik-E-Mart, complete with the beef jerky, sub-par coffee and various unhealthy munchables to sate the general needs of the average consumer. By no means do I detest the existence of this variety of one-stop shops, as they absolutely serve their purpose (where else will you get a wrinkly hot dog and a gallon of milk at 3 AM?), but I more detest that by and large, there are few small-scale markets that take it to another level.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

CC: Dub Pies

Subject: Dub Pies
Location Visited: Manhattan, NY
Free WiFi ? : I think not
Rating: 5+ [see key]

Pie has to be one of the single best mediums for conveying flavor. I can think of few items that tempt me and often allude me more than sumptuous pie delights like salty honey walnut, peach ginger and fresh, no-syrup-filler apple pie. And of course, I stand with the masses whose love for pie is seemingly only eclipsed by the inability (due to finances, geography or both) to get great piece all the time.

Yet for all the wonders of pie, America has not the fervent love for meat pies that our Aussie and Middle Earth (aka New Zealand) counterparts kindle. Sure we have chicken pot pie and shepherds pie, but how many of us have had a steak mince pie or a thai chicken curry pie? Not nearly enough of us. And to battle this pie-lessness, Dub Pies of NYC beats the war drums of their pie march upon the urban landscape around them. 

One evening, I was able to make it out to their Greenwich Village shop for a savory pie before heading on my way home. To my surprise while ordering, not only do they bear great pies but also a love for great coffee. Sporting Counter Culture Coffee, I decided to order an espresso of the Espresso La Forza (a more traditional, southern Italian-style espresso) and a drip of Kenyan (I failed to note the specific origin). The espresso, pulled a short-to-medium with a light brown crema, unfolded notes of vanilla, lemon, sugar, bittersweet chocolate and a touch of pepper; definitely full of traditional flavor though it seemed it was pulled a bit hot. The Kenyan metered out a great infusion of apricot, chocolate cake, sweet Hawaiian rolls, berries and light sage, making for a smooth and bright cup. 

Thus, not only did I sate my ravenous pie lust but I also had a great coffee experience. Delay not a dub-ious second; round up your kin and make a trip to a Dub Pies location next time you're in town (be on the lookout for the trucks!) or if ye reside local, get it delivered.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mugged: Citron and Poire [Le Palais Des Thes]

Subject: Le Palais des Thés
Teas Mugged: Le Citron and La Poire
Rating [see key]: both 4+

Having recently finished up a weekend at the NYC Coffee Fest, I am always amazed at how much of the coffee and tea industry involves flavoring. Of course flavored coffees I forcefully embargo, and syrups rarely pass through my lips (I try to keep my sweetener intake low), but natural flavoring in teas seem to be the one instance where an additive to the medium has some legitimate ability to add some quality flavor without using harsh chemicals or sugar.

Recently, I took some tea from Le Palais des Thés for a spin, trying out their Le Citron (Lemon) and La Poire (Pear). Both teas are flavored and each claims natural flavorings and refreshing results. I sampled each tea according to the brew recommendations on the product pages. 

The Le Citron smacked of lemon candy, cherry blossoms and cake, followed by a strong backbone of Sri Lankan black tea. While the taste of lemon was more akin to a sugary lemon concoction than an actual lemon, the tea all in all proved light and tart with some fairly solid qualities.

The La Poire also had a sweet, albeit more subtle, candied quality of fruit about it (in this case pear), along with notes of lemongrass, chardonnay and flecks of a deep green tea. Complete with marigold petals, this tea makes for a pretty sight and a decent brew.

While, I can't say that these two teas were my all-time favorites (I usually prefer my fruit flavorings from a fresh source), they each made for a fairly refreshing cup of tea. For a taste of France, check out these as well as the numerous other tea options on the Le Palais des Thés website.

note: tea was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

CC: Smile To Go

Subject: Smile To Go
Location: Manhattan, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

If there's one thing emerging more and more in people, it is a staunch desire to eat less chemicals. Whether that's meat free of antibiotics, vegetables sans-pesticides or groceries free of preservatives, folks seem to prefer getting away from many of the chemical additives our forefathers heralded as improvements to the marketplace.

Last I was in Manhattan, I found myself looking for some great coffee and a bit of the aforementioned nourishment. In my search for nearby places, I found Smile To Go, a carry-out and catering offshoot of The Smile over on Bond St. With both eateries known for quality ingredients on an ever-morphing, delicious menu PLUS a variety of coffee from Plowshares Coffee Roasters, I deemed it a good fit and merrily made my way over to Smile To Go. 

The space impressed me as unique and energetic, with the cozy-yet-vertically-spacious feel of the front interweaving with the bustling kitchen that made up the back 2/3 of the hall. With food second on my mind at the moment, I approached the counter to talk coffee and ended up ordering an espresso of the A-Train espresso blend and a drip of the Costa Rica Finca Gamboa. As the barista handed me my espresso, he warned me that the machine was not pulling the best shots that day and that it might be a bit sour. Sure enough, the espresso was slightly tart, smacking of pungent raspberry, but not to the point of it being unpleasant, with the other flavors of buttermilk biscuit, vanilla, a little nutmeg and a touch of clove shining through to make it a fairly wonderful infusion (aka only a touch off). The drip belted out joyous melodies of Belgian ale, apple slices, walnuts, cola, light nougat and basil within a medium body, making for a hearty, sweet brew.

As for the food, I had but a sampling that made me only wish I had been hungrier. In the end, if you're looking for a great meal to compliment some great coffee (and/or visa versa), make a point to hit Smile To Go (though get their well before the thick of lunch, as I was advised by the barista that lunch time can be nuts).  

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

CC: Bowery Coffee

Subject: Bowery Coffee
Location: Manhattan, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Wandering the streets of Manhattan, I had a good, strong craving for some smoked fish and hence, I mapped out a straight line to get to the esteemed Russ and Daughters on Houston St. And sure enough, after waiting amongst the throng to get some various tid bits of high-end lox, I was able to feast like a Nordic fisherman. But soon after completing my meal, my appetite sought a bit of a palate cleanser (fish does not linger well) and then, some great coffee.

Fortunately not far away sits Bowery Coffee, a local coffee establishment that is among the few five borough shops to roast their own beans, operating under the roaster name American Bulldog Coffee Roasters. I arrived at their brick shop to find a cozy spot, with wood slatted walls and classy white tables, complete with chipper baristas. I ordered an espresso of their Yemen and a drip of their Burundi. The espresso, pulled short with brown crema, rustled up some lemon, chocolate nibs, salt, cream, Chianti and granulated sugar, making a syrupy pull with a slight tart punch. The drip yodeled out caramel, buttered corn muffin, snap peas and light blackberry amidst a medium body, proving thick and succulent.

The only thing I could think of suggesting as an improvement would be adding smoked fish to the menu, but then again, maybe that would be too much of a good thing. Nonetheless, head over to Houston St for some great beans at Bowery Coffee.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mugged: Du Hamman and Des Moines [Le Palais des Thés]

Subject: Le Palais des Thés
Teas Mugged: The du Hammam and The Des Moines
Rating [see key]: 5+

When many folks think of French cafes, they think of small bistros where patrons sip espresso-based beverages and coffee. But the French like their tea too, and Le Palais des Thés with its numerous locations and bountiful online offerings seems to sate not only the tea lust of its countrymen, but also the appetites of other places like Israel and the US.

As a man always up for trying new things, I agreed to take for a dance two of their signature teas, The du Hammam and The Des Moines. I steeped each tea according to standard brew directives for the type of tea.

The The Des Moines is a black and green tea mixture with calendula petals and vanilla pods, making for an extremely aromatic tea. Brewed, the tea gives off expected notes of vanilla but also lavender, rose, ginger, lemon rind and a little spinach. Overall a vibrant tea with lots of sweet, floral notes.

The The du Hammam is a green tea mixed with assorted flower petals, the dry tea mixture gives off a pleasant aroma of fruit juice. Brewed the tea smacks of apricot, ginger and a little jasmine, proving refreshing and smooth.

In the end, these two teas proved to be a delicious change-up from my normal forays into different types of pure tea. If you're looking for floral, juicy tea blends, give Le Palais des Thés a browse.

note: tea was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback. 

Monday, August 05, 2013

CC: Kava Cafe [NYC]

Subject: Kava Cafe
Locations: Lower and Mid Manhattan, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

UPDATE 3.13.14
Finding a NYC coffeehouse with a beautiful courtyard full of outside seating is a rare find. Sure, outside seating is only worth something half the year in the fair land of Manhattan, but every time I find such a cafe owning the novelty, I still find myself wanting to take full advantage of it (unless it's deluging, but otherwise I'm outside).

Stumbling upon once such coffee joint that not only sported a great courtyard but also slings Annapolis' Ceremony Coffee, I found some lower Manhattan gold in Kava Cafe. Located off Washington St, I trotted in from the bright morning sun inside to the mood-lit cafe that gave off a vibe of a swanky rendezvous fit for 007. The cafe doesn't have a ton of room for sitting inside (it's Manhattan) but as I mentioned, if the weather is with you there happens to be plenty of seating on their back patio.

As for my coffee that day, I had an espresso of Destroyer and a drip of a Brazil Daterra. The Destroyer, pulled short with a brown crema, sang of vanilla, lemon, whole milk, cola, a little soy sauce and a touch of kale encapsulating a well-balanced, scrumptious spro. The Brazil also proved spectacular, with notes of nuts, birch, pear, a little almond butter and a smidgen of beef stock in a medium body.

If you are in need of some great coffee and an airy respite in the Meatpacking District, head on over to Kava Cafe.

UPDATE 3.13.14

Made it out to the midtown cafe on 42nd Street recently. Same great coffee in a much more spacious and gorgeous spot, with the same vibe and a full bar.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

CC: Je & Jo

Subject: Je & Jo
Location: Manhattan, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]

Amongst the many things I hold an affection for, there are three things I love that I rarely see together: great coffee, great ice cream and a small NYC cafe off the beaten path. And praise the Lord above, I found them all manifested in Je & Jo, a small creamery/coffeehouse in Hell's Kitchen.

Located in a small space with enough room for a bar a long the window (par the course for many places in Manhattan), Je & Jo still pulls off an amazingly warm and cozy shop. As for coffee, they serve Cafe Grumpy and offer french press and espresso, of which I respectively got the El Cielito, Santa Barbara Honduras and Heartbreaker Espresso. The Heartbreaker as an espresso was anything but, with notes lime, cinnamon, chocolate, au jus and sage within a short pull with nice brown crema (aka delicioso). The Honduras hit it out of the park as well, manifesting a medium-bodied coffee smacking of wheat, sugar cane, nougat, basil and a bit of broth. As for the ice cream, I had the pleasure of sampling many of their flavors, all of which have proven dynamite.

I really don't know who could turn down a shop like this . If you happen to be in Manhattan whether for a Broadway show or work, make your way over for a delightful respite of coffee and ice cream at Je & Jo.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

CC: Ports

Location: Manhattan, NY
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key] 

New York City has always been a city setting the stride on city parks. Sure other cities may have more or bigger parks, but few can contend with the beauty and design of Gotham's. My new favorite is the High Line, a former elevated train track converted into a beautiful elevated pedestrian parkway. Even on a recent visit to the city where rain pelted off and on all day, I found a rejuvenating walk upon the High Line after a nice brunch with family just what the doctor ordered. 

But after a while, promises of a new (to me) coffeehouse wooed me away from the aged freight tracks. I walked myself but a few blocks over to Ports Coffee & Tea Co on W 23rd St, a Stumptown slinging shop with a reputation.

The outside, while typical NYC tan brick with green awning, still held charm with its nautical influences and noticeable presence. Within, the cafe has an efficient ambiance accented with large globe lights, a chalkboard wall and a steady stream of patrons.  

For my order, I had an espresso of Ethiopian Mordecofe and a drip of the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Adado. The espresso, pulled short with a brown marbled crema, breathed subtle lime, slight cigar and italian ciabatta as well as some wisps of berry, cayenne pepper and cocoa; a delicious pull that proved balanced and interesting. The Yirgacheffe held notes of sweet corn, honey, carne asada, buttered toast, apple, sweet balsamic dressing and cocoa in a light medium body, doling out a tasty and complex cup of coffee.

While there's no shortage of great coffee in NYC, make Ports a definitive stop if you're in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Mugged: Jamaican High Mt [St. Mary Market]


What does "Mugged" mean?

St. Mary Market
Coffee Mugged:
Jamaica High Mountain
Rating: 2+
[see key]

t pains me when a coffee roaster/purveyor exclaims how great their coffee is, when in actuality it fails to pass for decent coffee when put to the test. This is a pain I experienced recently when the folks at St. Mary Market out of NYC very kindly sent me out a 1/3 lb of their Jamaican High Mountain Coffee to try. When I opened the bag, I smelled nothing except a stale fragrance and saw what could have once been a decent medium roast coffee.

As you might guess, all of the ensuing brews came out stale and hence, the original coffee might have been amazing but it seems that the roasting/storage/handling did not ensure its quality.

I brewed it first via drip and received a coffee with a little caramel, tobacco, fig and toast all in a light body.

The french press produced a cup with heavier tobacco, fig, caramel, oregano and a bit of pear. This cup had a heavier body.

The siphon denoted some caramel, pepper, oregano, graham cracker and popcorn amidst a medium body.

Thus, it seems that St. Mary Market might have a good coffee but because it was so stale when I received it, there's not much praise I can laud. Another Jamaican coffee that stalled when its rubber met the road.

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mugged: Bolivian Fair Trade [Coffee Foundry]


What does "Mugged" mean?

Coffee Foundry
Coffee Mugged:
Bolivian Fair Trade

Rating: 4+
[see key]

ocal businesses working together makes a whole heap of sense. Take NYC clothing company 3sixteen that put together a video series about what people who wear their clothes are passionate about. The videos document tattoo studio Invisible NYC and the drummer of the Death Set, but the one that caught my eye was the one about the Coffee Foundry, a local coffeehouse and roaster in NYC's West Village.

Long story short, the video enticed my curiosity and the Coffee Foundry (in cooperation with 3sixteen) sent me out some of their Bolivian Fair Trade to take for an objective spin. I received a medium roasted coffee in the classic brown bag which I prepared in three different infusions: drip (filtered), french press and siphon. All three infusions produced light-to-medium bodied brews with mellifluous results.

The drip presented a wheat-like brew with the flavors of cream, cooking cocoa, graham cracker, croissant, raisin, fig and kettle popcorn.

The french press brought out more notes similar to rum and oatmeal but still produced popcorn, raisin and fig along with a little tingle of dandelion green.

The siphon dealt out a cup similar to the drip, with a noticeable wheat presence followed by a little cream, honey, cooking cocoa, nuttiness, croissant and a bit of cinnamon.

While I wouldn't say Coffee Foundry's Bolivian was one of the best I've had, I will say that it produced a good cup of joe. If you're in the market for good south american coffee, grab a bag from the Coffee Foundry.

note: coffee was provided free of charge and the above review is objective feedback.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

CC: Third Rail Coffee

What's does "CC" mean?
Location visited: Manhattan, NY
Free WiFi ? : no
6+ [
see key]

Though Jersey is right next to Manhattan, I hold the opinion that there's no such thing as "popping in." No matter how many different methods I try, it always takes at least a half hour, even when I am right across the river (circumstances never seem to favor my speed). But I guess you can rationalize the time taken for the reward on the other side.

One recent end of a business day, I was driving down the NJ turnpike and hit a massive parking lot of traffic. Not wanting to sit and also having a rare free evening (the wife was to be with friends til late), I decided to park the car and take NJ Transit into Penn Station, grab some dinner and coffee and then head home when traffic had dissipated.

The plan mostly worked. I didn't end up finding as great a dinner as I had hoped but I managed to finally make it to Third Rail Coffee near NYU. In the midst of the evolving NYC coffee scene, Third Rail has won strong accolades for good coffee (NY Times gave some love) and seems to have strong attention to detail. The cafe itself is typical of NYC in that its low on space but every ounce is optimized amidst the exposed brick, wood floors and wall seating.

Third Rail serves up Intelligentisa and Stumptown and per their offerings that day, I got a Black Cat espresso and Stumptown's Costa Rican Don Mayo Reserva via Chemex. The Costa Rican brought earthy notes, hints of wheat, rum, oregano and corn; a smooth cup that proved delicious. The espresso, pulled short with pretty crema, had flickers of lemon, bittersweet chocolate, cloves and raspberry within a nice velvety texture (a good showing of Black Cat). The tea is free leaf.

Especially with the friendly banter from the baristas, Third Rail choo choo-ed sweetly into my heart. If you happen to be in the city, rally to their doorstep.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

CC: Think Coffee

What's does "CC" mean?

Think Coffee
Location visited: Manhattan, NY
1 Bleeker St
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 5+ [see key]

What really ensures a student's success? Is it wise counsel? Do the academic courses really mean that much? Realistically, I feel that all of those have importance but on the other hand, a college student really needs good coffee and a nice place to study.

Yeah, I know that's probably not totally true (though I needed those two things). But nonetheless thousands of students sip gallons of mediocre joe and study in boring drab rooms, and many of them still fall short of amazing.

If only more amazing coffeehouses would come to the aid of the students! With that cry deep in my heart, I embarked to examine a coffeehouse known to supply NYU students with decent nectar and beautiful ambiance, a place called Think Coffee. Sure I had heard not as glamorous feedback as well, but the place had some merit for at least a look.

Think possesses quite the unusual look for a Manhattan business (at least in my experience) in that it had a large stoop with plants placed on either side and a snazzy awning to boot. Inside, I fell in love with their high ceilings (with tremendous lighting), various environments of space and their fantastic array of furniture.

Most of the coffee hails from Porto Rico Importing Company, a coffee company that's been around for some time in the area but has not made any significant waves recently. But to my delight, Think Coffee also brews two self-roasted Cup of Excellence coffees on drip. Not in a gambling mood, I went for the Nicaraguan COE via drip. The brew presented light floral notes, tastes of strawberries and an overall nice somberness to it that made for a nice afternoon cup (wouldn't really pack the punch necessary for a morning pot). The espresso, pulled short, smacked of bittersweet cocoa, some nutmeg and a very full taste; good overall shots. The tea is free leaf of various kinds and Think also serves wine and beer (on tap!).

Meandering off afterwards, I greatly envied the many students cuddled up with their Calculus and their Aristotle in the warm embrace of Think Coffee. Not only do they have many great coffeehouses around Manhattan to choose from, but they also have a great one on their doorsetp.

In my opinion, a stop below Washington Square Park deserves a stop at Think Coffee.