A very handsome city

I love New York and I will love it more and more I feel. However, I must confess I had a hard time get along with downtown Manhattan. This might change!

My favorite coffee is coming to town, and it’s going to be downtown! That was a rumor I knew very much for a while but I was not totally sure yet. However, I read it somewhere now so I guess it ain’t anymore rumor stage.

If you haven’t heard about Handsome Coffee, you can know a bit more about them here and here. Handsome is my favorite coffee at the moment and it has nothing to deal with the fact that these folks are handsome… It is really about taste and flavor.. I can’t say for espresso, but for french press yes. This coffee transformed my french press which was a default choice, waiting for my new espresso machine to come as soon as possible… I don’t anymore see my press as a fallback instrument!

One other thing great. I heard somewhere that this Handsome shop might be a bit fundamentalist. Fundamentalism is not always a good thing but some time it is… I heard there would be no low-fat milk, no soy milk, no  half and half, no sugar only whole milk and dark juice! That is a great thing. No more young hipsta-hippie working lady with their yoga pad and their Chihuahua ordering soy vanilla latte to go before me in the line! Great! (I would love a coffee shop with only espresso and only porcelain if your ask me for more fundamentalism)

The other good thing is that my office will move to DUMBO so I will just have to cross the bridge to reach the handsome spot!

  • Handsome Coffee Roaster at Demi Monde (opening soon)
    90 Broad Street
    Manhattan
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La Colombe in Tribeca

As I was visiting some friends in lower Tribeca yesterday, I decided to stop to give “La Colombe” a try.

A few people in Paris, including my friend Leigh, spoke to me about La Colombe. La Colombe is a coffee roaster from Philadelphia who has open a few coffee shops in their home town, in New York (Manhattan – two on Lafayette, one on Church –  the one I visited today) and I guess in a couple of other places.

La Colombe was created 17 years ago by a duo (Todd and Jean-Phillipe), one coming from Seattle the other from France, Nice. Not surprisingly the two met in Seattle in the 80s, may be a more fertile ground than Nice or Paris…

So here we go, a saturday afternoon of january, very cold, Manhattan almost empty. First of, very good note for the coffee shop in Church street. I don’t know if the other “La Colombe” shops are as nice but this place has definitely some good style. It is more of a large espresso bar than a coffee shop where I would spend a whole morning working but it is nice, cosy and feels good.

A selection of coffee is the first thing you see, and I obviously bought some. It is mostly blends but there were also a few single origins. The one I bought was “Nizza” made with beans from Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia and Honduras. Supposed to be a Medium roast, but looked already a bit on the dark side, I tried it today on my french press. Good coffee but not a lot of personnality, the girl at the counter told me it was good for french press, however on the pack it is indicated for Espresso or Stove top, so may be this was a mistake…? may be why I was not that impressed with my coffee this morning. Good balance but no strong flavor.

Also to be noted: La Colombe write a “Best before” on their bags and not a date of roast. This is slightly disturbing to me…

Of course, more than buying coffee I wanted to try an espresso. Very good service, beautiful ceramics but so big for an espresso! I asked for a double shot and the way they poor espresso is quite long as you can see… far from pooring ristretto as default shots there! But very light and balanced espresso, subtle and pleasant though not my taste. I can definitely see this as a good espresso for gastromic restaurants!

Espresso are  poored using 2 old Faema E61, very nice machines, but I realized I have never been impressed by coffee made with those… is there a relation?

Talking about Style, way nicer than the Faema, there is in the shop a beautiful La Pavoni, displayed as a piece of art, a machine that won a design contest in 1956. I hope you’ll like the pictures, I found it beautiful! Only italians can end up with such a design!

Summary: nice end-of-afternoon coffee but definitely not outstanding, I might go back if I am around, the place is really pleasant and service is good but I have not yet been conquered by the coffee side of La Colombe, not enough to buy my beans from them or to go there especially if I am further than three or four blocks.

Stumptown on 29th

Hey! I’v been lazy writing during the busy holidays period but I am back in business.

So today, I share about my other “daily coffee place”, the one that is ten meters from my office, and I must confess I am lucky with this office. This place is a coffee shop run by Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I discovered Stumptown almost four years ago in Seattle, and while it took some months, it very quickly became for me one of the top coffee roaster, with high quality, extremly constant in that respect, despite offering a very wide and changing selection of coffee, in both single origins or blends.

So, that is primarly what makes me happy there, either having an espresso shot, a machiatto, or buying my beans for home: the quality of coffee! I believe it is still the best in NYC. Please Stumptown, stick to this standard, even if you’re getting bigger and bigger!

Let’s go for the bad side of it now. First of all, it is totally over-hyped. Some people don’t pay attention, some others don’t like it. Me, it’s depending of the days. The coffee shop is part of the Ace Hotel which is cool, but also very over-hyped. The hotel host a couple of fancy boutiques and the Breslin restaurant, a very good table I must say, of course with the price that goes with it. So, this makes it a super crowded and fashionable area! The place is run by a small army of Barista, all disguised in some sort of mid century vintage clothes (you might like it or not but one thing is sure, it lacks of genuineness) and working on 2 3-headed Mistral La Marzocco. And despite the large staff and the 6 heads… there is almost always a long line going even out of the coffee shop into the hotel lobby. If you’re in the rush, forget about it!

And finally, still in the bad side, I regret that here, I am never offered an espresso when buying beans (I thought this was a tradition in the coffee industry, is that time over?). A last bad note: I had to go to the hotel’s ATM a couple of time because I was out of cash; they don’t take credit card (how a shop like this, with such an outflow, can not have its own CC machine???), so again this takes time and 2 USD transactions… add this to of course a price list that goes with the standard and this makes it an expensive coffee place, no doubt.

Summary: go for the coffee first, then go to see it and experience it and make your own opinion but I bet there are many coffee shops now in Manhattan where you would feel much more “home” than here, starting with the venerable Joe’s, even if the coffee is sometime a bit behind than Stumptown.

  • Stumptown Coffee Shop Manhattan
    18 W 29th St.
    New York, NY 10001
    map 

RBC NYC, no handsomeness but plenty of good beans

As I was in the city today, I went to RBC NYC. I wanted to try this place since a couple of weeks, but more than that, I wanted to go there to get some beans from Handsome Coffee Roasters, this new roaster created by some good folks from the coffee industry, and RBC is the only place I know in New York carrying them!

Bad luck, no more stock of Handsome Coffee

Still as I was there I bought a stock of different roasters: 49th Parallel 49th (from Vancouver), Counter Culture (from Durham, NC), Heart (from Portland), Barismo (from Barlington, Ma) and Coava (from Portland)

I didn’t know at all Barismo, and it’s what they were using for espresso today. Ended up in a very good, short espresso cup poured by their beautiful Slayer, of a blend (guatemala, colombia and colombia) that was very good. Subtle, a good sweetness, not too strong, almost no bitterness. I really liked it.

Beside that, the space is nice, I think you can work there a little but it’s not that big. The location, Broadway and Worth, is not the best to me, in Tribeca, but not the best part of it (I really have little reasons to go in the area). I would recommend definitely to try it. It’s also interesting to have a place that carry so many roasters, but this can also be questionable, as well as the fact that the roast is not really local for most of them… Anyway, one concrete consequence, you will have less freshly roasted coffee than from a local provider. Some of my beans where roasted more than 2 weeks ago. Depending one when you want to use them, you might want to check this before buying!

  • RBC NYC
    71 Worth Street
    New York, NY 10013
    Map here