Manhattan Espresso Adventure 2013

Humidity and heat was the trepidation for a late August vacation to New York City.  Regardless, the prospect to spend quality time focused in Manhattan dispelled any festering anxieties about heat and humidity.  Soaking up the urban experience was what this trip was about.  Immersing ourselves in NYC, from morning through the night still endures with a buzz.  While this was not a cycling journey, there was abundant opportunity to explore as many espresso stops as possible.  In the wake of nine days and over twenty coffee houses visited; we chose ten to distinguish.  Stops were made by recommendation, research, and spontaneous discovery.  Headquarters was Midtown East Manhattan, at the Metropolitan Double Tree, located at 51st and Lexington.  A Citi-Bike station and subway were directly outside of the hotel, so getting around town was a snap.

We only provided an espresso “Wheels” rating and did not call out how bike friendly… take a Citi-bike, dock it, walk, enjoy!

Little Collins – 667 Lexington Ave NY, NY

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~

LC had the full package.  Featuring the sleek Modbar system, they delivered a quality espresso served with a soda water accompaniment.  The baristas were decked out properly and took their craft seriously with delight.  LC was our last stop of the trip, and was a spontaneous discovery.  They were the real deal, and capped off our Manhattan Espresso adventure perfectly.

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Joe Coffee – Grand Central Terminal  NY, NY (Graybar Passage)

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷   ~

Joe was a destination stop based on research.  If you do not know Grand Central Terminal – have fun finding Joe.  Simply find the Graybar Passage and you are there, just keep your eyes peeled wide open because you can walk past it in a heartbeat.  Hopping busy, serving up all comers, Joe delivered a proper espresso including a soda water, impressive!

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Blue Bottle – 1 Rockefeller Plaza Concourse Level, Suite D NY, NY

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷   ~

The trick for us was finding the access to the concourse level of the Rock.  A trip down the elevator was the easiest solution.  Blue Bottle found its way from San Francisco to NYC.  Featuring duel espresso bars within the well appointed interior, Blue Bottle served up a fine cup of  coffee nectar.  We love the logo, as well as, the history and espionage tied to the name. The Polish army came to the rescue of the Viennese who were waning from a prolonged siege by the Ottoman Turks.  While fleeing from a surprise attack by the Polish army, the Turks abandoned stores of mysterious bean. Thought to be camel feed by the unknowing Viennese, they were reckoned worthless.  As reward for his role, Kolshitsky, the spy who infiltrated Turkish lines to summon the Polish army, knowingly requested ownership of the stores of coffee.  Kolshitsky opened the first Viennese coffee house, The Blue Bottle.  A pivotal moment of world history and coffee.

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Cafe Grumpy – 224 W 20th St.  NY, NY (Chelsea)

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷   ~

Slipping in the door just prior to closing, we enjoyed a delicious espresso at Cafe Grumpy.  Founded in Brooklyn, and as we understand the story, Grumpy was one of, if not the first, to break the scene of a new era of indie coffee houses in NYC.  A scrumptious espresso was our treat.  We left with a souvenir Cafe Grumpy demitasse.  Delightfully tucked into a long narrow space in Chelsea, we can see how Grumpy can be a neighborhood fixture.

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Ninth St. Espresso – 75 9th Ave. NY, NY (Chelsea Market)

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷   ~

Strolling the Highline?, jump off at the Chelsea Market passage and treat yourself at Ninth St. Espresso.  Via the E train, we arrived just at opening time.  The barista was pleasant, and took her time to make sure the espresso was dialed in properly for the opening hour.  Bountiful aroma, velvety creme, and lasting flavor, was our reward.  Thanks!

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Ground Support Cafe – 399 W Broadway  NY, NY (SoHo)

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~

According to NASA, SoHo stands for Solar & Heliospheric Observatory, perhaps a take on the name Ground Support; okay most likely not.  Maybe Ground Support will email and enlighten us on the history of the name.  Ground Support provided a needed respite to our dogs, which had been tramping around for quite a bit.  While service was a bit aloof at the order station, we had some pleasant banter with the baristas.  Brewing Intelligentsia’s “Black Cat”, Ground Support provided a fine espresso.  We particularly enjoyed the selection of cycling magazines to peruse while at the espresso bar.

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Culture Espresso – 32 W. 38th St.  NY, NY

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~

Located in the heart of Mid-town, close to Bryant Park and the Library, Culture offers a quick recess from the bustle.  AM coffee lovers were packed out the door, fortunately, the line moved quickly to serve those in need.  Hearing the espresso order, the barista took note of our place in line and made the preparations appropriately to ensure, that when the espresso was up, we were there to receive it at it’s peak.The crystal chandelier is the centerpiece of the cafe and the dual cold brew towers the piece-de-resistance. Heart was the roast being featured while we were there.

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Third Rail Coffee – 240 Sullivan St  NY, NY (Greenwich Village)

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~

Located just south of Washington Park, Third Rail is positioned well to serve the burgeoning students of the NYU School of Law.  Third Rail’s friendly baristas served up a fine spot of Stumptown’s Hairbender roast.  Appointed sparingly, the brick interior provided just the right atmosphere to enjoy a caffeinated delight.  There was space to secure a cycle outside and in sight from within.

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Irving Farm Coffee Roasters – Grand Central Terminal  NY, NY

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷ ⨷ ⨷  ~

Irving  Farm roasts there own beans and has a number of offerings to select from, including organic, which we appreciate for many reasons.  We had the Black Strap espresso blend.  Served with a soda water accompaniment, the espresso, much to our satisfaction, was richly aromatic and robustly flavorful.   If we were giving out awards, which we were not, this particular espresso pull would have received the messiest cup award; just saying!  Still enjoyed it Charlie Brown.

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Becco – 355 W. 46th St.  NY, NY

  • Espresso:   ⨷ ⨷    ~

We want to give a shout out to one restaurant, italian of course, that served a proper espresso, BECCO!  A satisfying meal was enjoyed following the poignant hilarity of “The Book of Mormon”.  All three of the features of the house specialty meal were delicious.  Dessert was followed by a revivifying espresso.

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*Paradoxical footnote: All the cafes we spend time to write about we recommend as destinations.  We provide the honest feedback and rating of the espresso experience because we are interested to help cultivate the best success for future visits.  Even though we may give the espresso experience a one wheel rating we can still love and recommend a visit to the cafe because of the overall character of place, amongst other qualities.

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