Fort Greene’s WTF Coffee Lab lives up to its tongue-in-cheek name with an outlandish selection of Fair Trade coffees and a diverse array of brewing techniques. Bewildered guests try not to stare as baristas brew Guatemalan coffee pour-over style or coax Salvadoran blends out of a French press.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ selection of beans is inspired by founder Duane Sorenson’s trips to Africa, Indonesia, and Latin America. Tucked inside the New York Ace Hotel, the Midtown coffee shop seems a world away from those exotic locales. Still, potent espresso drinks and music courtesy of a vintage turntable make the short trip worthwhile.
This San Francisco-based shop has earned a reputation for unusual brewing methods—the Williamsburg branch, for example, employs a Japanese Kyoto dripper that looks like something out of the 1893 World’s Fair. The coffee itself comes from Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and other top-tier growing regions, but it’s the diversity of preparation methods that helps Blue Bottle stand out.
New York Magazine called Abraco “an instant neighborhood institution,” citing the shop’s quick-talking baristas and bright interior design. But the tiny East Village coffee bar doesn’t slouch when it comes to the main attraction. Semi-sweet small plates accompany signature drinks such as a cortado made with one half each of espresso and steamed milk.
As its name implies, Jack Mazzola’s stir-brew process stirs the coffee as it brews. This patented method has made Jack’s Stir Brew one of the city’s most beloved shops. The warm, fuzzy feeling of drinking Jack’s Fair Trade coffee finds a counterbalance in tough-guy beverage names such as the Dirty Harry (a vanilla soy latte) and the Mad Max (coffee and espresso).
Though he’s a National Barista Championship finalist, Sam Penix likes to keep things simple at his West Village and SoHo coffee shops. At either location, you can get a Counter Culture coffee to go or sit for a while and savor the Espresso Toscano’s notes of chocolate, caramel, and hazelnut.
Duly mentioned in New York Press’s piece on “The Best Coffee You’ve Never Had,” Kaffe 1668 individually brews beans from Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. Candlelit jars set the mood at the café’s two Tribeca locations; head to the northern spot for a light lunch of ham and brie toast.
Grounded is a bit of a misnomer, considering how this West Village café changes its menu with the seasons. With spring comes the honey-bee latte, a creamy concoction made with locally produce honey. The Chocolate Bliss—a tea blend with vanilla rooibos, raw cacao, and cinnamon—makes for an ideal autumn treat.
"We want to make anyone who maybe doesn't drink a lot of coffee feel comfortable about approaching the bar," Toby Smith recently told GrubStreet. Stop in to ask Toby about his take on a Flat White—an Australian specialty with two shots of espresso topped with milk—or learn how the native Aussie sustainably sources his beans.
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