Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New York Espresso Bar Run

What an intensive day.
I'm so caffeinated for the moment I'm walking like Robocop in stead of Rob.

Started early this morning - still not adjusted with the hour at this side of the ocean - with a juice and muffin. Forgot the name of this joint on 9th, but it must have been one the best juices I ever had. Knowing I started up 2 juice bars, this means something!

Then my first bar : Café Grumpy on 20th street between 7th and 8th. Strolling through the streets of Chelsea was like I was on a ride with a time machine. Going back in the time when I was in my 20's and dating a Brooklyn girl who live with her sister a couple blocks away from Grumpy in an identical street. The look of the streets is still the same, but in those days there was no espresso bar around.
The equipment is stunning. 2 Clovers, a big Cynesso and 3 big Mazzers. Wow! The bar is small, but not too small. The bar is crowded and Joe is helping me out with my order. I decide to launch myself into the scene with a Ritual Brazil Boa Sorte Campos bla bla espresso. The Barista (flat capped!!) is pulling it the way Chris or Drew doing it in San Francisco. A sweet tooth espresso : small, fruity and strong. We Europeans need to make a click to taste these kind of espresso's. The first ones in Atlanta were not really my thing, but I'm getting into it. Nice.
Then a Clover coffee. A Verve roast : Bonko Sidamo, from the Adem Bedane Mill. It was ok, but a bit one dimensional. I like Clover, but I think a good Barista with a good coffee can make an even better coffee on a press or filter.

Ninth Street Espresso opened a bar at the Chelsea Market, 9th Avenue between 15th and 16th street. A great location, although I'm missing in this open bar a bit of atmosphere. Also the welcome was not that warm, but once chatting away with Barista Tray I feel more comfortable with the space. He pulled me an Intellligentsia brewed triple ristretto (they recently switched from Stumptown to Intel because they wanted their own label in stead of brewing the Hairbender like 40 others in New York - I understand) from the Alfabeth City Blend. Lots of Brazil, but too fresh. A 5 day old Brazil is not really my cup. I'm missing some fruitiness and hate the astringent after taste. Probably better next time.
The equipment : La Marzocco FB80 2-group coupled with an Anfim Super Caimano. Sweet.

Next stop was Think on Bowery. Very busy and the espresso very Italian. I was curious after their famous Cold Brew, but knowing I had to do some more bars I decided to stick with a single shot. A pity they don't give a glass of water automatically. Also no spoon. Typical for America, although it wouldn't harm them to get used to stir the espresso before drinking.

Abraço on first Avenue is the smallest bar I've ever been to. And it was packed. That means 4 people. Maybe it could have been 5 ...
Very funny atmosphere with these people hanging there, talking coffee.
I thought the Counter Culture Aficionado espresso was way too bitter. After tasting one at the CC booth in Atlanta (an article about it later on) from one of their own funky Barista's I may claim I'm an expert. ;-)
After telling so (not about the 'expert part' of course) the audience starts to mingle into our small discussion. I felt a little intimidated by this, but when the Barista pulls himself a shot and agrees with me, the discussion was over. But my 2 dollars spilled anyhow. Can't those people see when the crema is almost black and 'bubbly' there's something wrong?
Although a place to recommend for a filter and the weird setting.

Final coffee destination was Alex and Aaron's bar Ost at Avenue A and 12th street, East Village.
Saturday evening April 18 Atlanta. In the middle of the night I'm wandering through the outskirts of Atlanta together with 4 Estland Barista's ; totally lost. Then Alex stops his car at the sidewalk and tells us the Counter Culture party is further up the road.
Half an hour later Alex and I are drinking American pilsner and talking coffee. What a life.
Now a couple days later I enter the bar and feel very happy. This feels like home. Very cosy interior, nice people, great music and a good coffee.
And I'm not alone. At the bar Troels Poulsen (former world Champion), Jens Norgaard (also Kontra and Europe) and Dave LaTourelle are enjoying their cup. I join the group not to play cards but to talk coffee and discuss the local scène. Dave, former Clover and now working for Intelligentsia New York is, as usual, a warm guest. This is one of his latest projects. He and Daniel Humphries have been training these Barista's at their Brooklyn training center and they did well. The Black Cat Espresso is well balanced and punchy.
There's are worse places and friends to drink coffee with.

So, enough for today. Photo's will by posted next week.
C ya all tomorrow.

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