Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Coffee in NYC

I really love coffee but I only permit myself to have one (good) cup of coffee a day and will cheat with a second every now and then. So I had 4 mornings to check out the coffee scene and I decided to stay close to my older sister's West Village apartment.

The first day was dictated by my older sister since she did not want to walk far for a cup of coffee. I had done some prior research on coffeegeek about local coffee houses and also found this site. I decided since one branch of Joe the Art of Coffee was so close to my sister's we would go there. With high hopes of good coffee, no address written down and a call to the other sister for the address we found the Waverly Place location. It was packed full of people in a small space and definitely felt like a community coffee house. You could tell that most of their patrons were regulars and the service was friendly and efficient. The baked goods looked delicious too.

Since they are more known for espresso, we both got americanos, in hindsight I think we should have tried different things. I'm not really knowledgeable in espresso, but my americano tasted over extracted and a little sour. I appreciated the strong cup, but I'm used to ordering americano's to get a fresh coffee taste. But we were caffeinated and my sister found a nice community based coffee shop to hang out in.

That day we went up to Chelsea Market, did some grocery shopping, went back to my sister's place to drop everything off. Ate at Tom Colicchio's 'wichcraft restaurant for lunch (more to come on that), walked through SoHo to Chinatown and then back to my sister's via some small shops and tour of the area. It was a lot of walking but it was really nice to see places you've only heard about. The highlight of Chelsea Market was the Italian goods store that I had seen on a couple Food Network programs. Chelsea Market wasn't a huge open space like I expected but more of a meandering indoor pathway with all different types of food stores and a flower shop along the path.

But back to coffee. Based on a recommendation by my sister's friend the prior evening over great Italian food I went to Jack's Stir Brew coffee. It was busy but not crowded and again the staff was very friendly. This place had a much warmer feel to it and when I go back to visit my sister I could definitely see myself hanging out here. The coffee was fresh and yummy although not as strong as I make it at home. Still it was a great cup and I appreciated that the coffee was fair trade.

My last two mornings though I went to Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea which I did not realize was a brand new location for them. This place made me truly happy. The space is very minimalist which was refreshing because with space being at such a premium in Manhattan I was feeling claustrophobic by all the cluttered shops. It also meant that they were focusing on one thing and one thing only, coffee! This shop has the only Clover machine in NYC and I heard so much about it that it was high up on my list to check out. I've read that the coffee is comparable to an Aeropress coffee, which I own but am still not a fan of. The great thing about the Clover is that the coffee is brewed just for the individual consumer. So upon entering the coffee shop there is a menu of coffee varietals that you can order, and there is a different price point for each cup based on their price.

I had walked more then 10 blocks to get here, and I have traveled further for coffee but I could almost hear my sister saying, "you walked 10 blocks 1-way for a CUP of coffee???". YES.

And it was well worth it. M'Lissa helped me and I told her how excited I was to check them out and that I heard about them through coffeegeek and I roasted my own coffee, and I basically babbled because I was so giddy. I asked a couple questions about the offered coffees and it was clear that she really knew her stuff and she asked me a couple questions about my roasting. The Clover was acting up a bit that day but I decided on a cup of Bolivian coffee since it's not something I have tried. Even though she said she was pouring excellent espresso I came for the Clover. The coffee lived up to expectations and they were by far the nicest and the most customer oriented. As I left I saw M'Lissa pour a beautiful rosetta on a latte.

The next day I dragged my twin sister to Cafe Grumpy where I was able to get my own latte with beautiful rosettas on it. The coffee scene in NYC was exciting and I can't wait to visit again and check out some other places that were on my list but a little further away. I also now have the itch to go to Groundwork coffee and check out their Clover.

Monday, December 18, 2006

good to be home

I'm just back from an 7 day trip to the east coast and it is good to be home, although I had a great time. I was in lower Manhattan for 3 1/2 days and Philadelphia at a wedding for 3 1/2 days. Equal time with each of my two sisters and non-stop activities that I'll have to separate up in different posts.

A major highlight of the trip was being able to see people from my later college days and catch up with them. Many of the people I saw were only sophomores when I graduated and seeing how much they have all changed was really amazing.

I'm back just in time to celebrate my own wedding anniversary (tomorrow) and then off again this weekend to be with family. It's nice to have a lot of today to just sit at home leisurely and catch up with the fluffy cat.

More to come hopefully soon. I had many good coffee, eating and crafting adventures including a cup of coffee from the only Clover machine in NYC.

Monday, December 04, 2006


It's been a long couple weeks with family around and other obligations, and hopefully I'll get a little time to breathe before heading out to the east coast next week.

My secret pal sent me something again! Last week I received it, and I have not had time to even check my email. Again I'm sorry for being such a flake secret pal! I'll take a picture later this week, but I received a maple leaf cookie cutter, a set of 3 pretty pens and stitch markers! My sisters were very jealous!