“Welcome to New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do.”
These words perfectly describe New York. Perfectly describe the coffee scene. Perfectly describe the people there. I have had the massive privilege of travelling to the amazing New York City twice in the past six months. I have experienced, seen and tasted so much awesomeness that it only seems fair that I share such experiences with you. If you are a coffee lover, love experiences and want to know where to get the best cup in the Big Apple, then this article is for you.
I first want to preface this article by telling you what the coffee scene is like in this City. One word comes to mind: explosive. Absolutely explosive. I was in the city for over three weeks and every day I made it my mission to visit at least two to three stores a day.
I wanted to meet baristas, I wanted them to make and tell me about their coffee and take some nice pictures on the side so that I could then share it with you. I never ran out of new speciality coffee shops to visit. Not once.
And what struck me even more than the fact that there was a copious amount of speciality shops, was the barista’s passion for what they do. Funny enough, contrary to popular belief, many (if not the majority) of the baristas cannot earn enough money making coffee, or as I like to say “baristing.” So they have two jobs: one that pays the bills and the other – making coffee. Flip, New Yorkers chase their dreams with all their heart. I love that. I adore that. I think we should all be like that. It was not uncommon for me to walk into a store and once I had been served, they used their “lull” time to prep for the upcoming USA Barista Championships. Their attitude: work a job that pays the bills, make coffee and train to become better. Of course you will find some of the best coffee in the world here. Yes, I do think that baristas should be able to make a living “baristing,” but that is another topic on it’s own. For now, here are my top 3 spots from all the stores I visited:
* Disclaimer: When I list “best coffee,” it might be the barista’s suggestion that I enjoyed or the type of coffee I felt like on the day. Either way, it is a biased, subjective opinion, which you should ignore if you want to have something else 🙂
- Best drink: One & One using the Burundi bean / pour over made with their Apollo bean
- Mood: Relaxed, warm and very welcoming
- Address: 301 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013
Everyman Espresso is honestly some of the finest coffee you will find in Manhattan. I have been to this store at least 10 times and have literally never been disappointed. It would be an honour to work here as a barista.
It is a small, clean and well-designed store. There are normally two baristas on duty and you will most likely encounter either Sam or Stephan (who have recently just competed to qualify for the USA Barista Championship and the World Cup Tasters Championship respectively). Counter Coffee is served here and I really liked the “one and one.” Not one-on-one… one and one. This is simply a shot of espresso AND a cortado served together. I had this drink made with the Burundi bean that they had in store, but if they suggest having the Apollo bean, have it, it’s also good. If you have the time, also ask the baristas all the questions that you have been dying to ask, they are super knowledgeable and willing to chat coffee always.
- Best drink: Batch brew drip coffee / Cortado (Ask for their single origin bean)
- Mood: Modern, clean, vibey
- Address: 8 Wilson Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Clean, white, spacious with a beautiful aroma of freshly ground coffee filling every corner of the the space. My husband and I stayed in Bushwick during this trip and about 5 minutes from our AirBnB was this lovely coffee shop, that at first, I was a bit sceptical about. To my surprise, the coffee was phenomenal.
Katie and Mike were the two people that served me coffee at Supercrown Roasters nearly every day on our walk to the Metro. I would alternate between a drip coffee or an espresso based coffee, and both added value to my morning routine. This coffee shop has been featured on Zagat as one of the 9 hottest coffee shops in NYC, which is quite an achievement.
- Best Drink: Double ristretto shot cortado
- Mood: Bustling, cosy and warm.
- Address: 667 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10022
A lawyer, by profession, moves to the Big Apple from Aussie to pursue and build up his career as a lawyer and eventually quits. Why? Because he is passionate about coffee. So then? He opens up his own coffee shop called “Little Collins.”
You must go here. I am at a loss for words when it comes to trying describe this shop because it is super unique and you need to be in the store, in the heart of NYC, to experience it. What I can say is that every barista in this store loves what they do and will make you a great cup. They have a Modbar in store and seeing this in person was a beautiful experience. Modbars are “relatively” new and comes with some hiccups, which I think will be ironed out in about 3 years or so, but this didn’t stop the baristas from working their magic. Counter Culture beans are also served here and my suggest would be to ask the barista what they feel like making you. The owner is usually in store. If you see him, chat to him. He is quite the inspiration.
Other coffee shops that I have experienced, and which are a must try also include:
- Birch Coffee
- Blue Bottle
- Grumpy Cafe
- Uncle Joe’s Coffee
- Third Rail
- Gimme Coffee
Just type them in on Google maps and you can get there easily.
I could give extensive reviews about each place, but simplicity is better. You simply need to visit these places. Simply enjoy the aesthetics, conversation and coffee. Simply have a blast.
Until we meet again, let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York.
This post & photography by Shan Venter. Shan is a Pretoria based twenty something, with tons of energy and passion. She quit her job as a teacher to pursue a career in coffee. She’s currently working for Tribeca as a trainer for their baristas. She loves being a wife, teaching, traveling, and all things coffee.