NYC: Fully Caffeinated

by Skip on November 10, 2010

in Brooklyn,Cheap/Tasty,Drinks,Food & Eating,New York City


New York: Blue Bottle Coffee New Orleans Iced Coffee. Photo by Dan Schumacher

New York: Blue Bottle Coffee New Orleans Iced Coffee. Photo by Dan Schumacher

My relationship with coffee began, as many do, as a casual friendship. I had been working overnight at Apple’s Fifth Avenue store and after a year of nocturnal living found myself wanting its warm, comforting buzz. It wasn’t the energizing chemicals so much as the atmosphere of Mud, a slightly-small, dark East Village coffee shop that really got me hooked. Manhattan felt more crowded and hostile all the time and I knew I could always wrap myself in the warm blanket of good music, hot espresso macchiatos and friendly faces.

Birmingham: Urban Standard Cappuccino. Photo by Dan Schumacher

Birmingham: Urban Standard Cappuccino. Photo by Dan Schumacher

It was a treat, a preemptive reward for being productive. I didn’t drink it daily or prepare it for myself–I didn’t own any of the necessary equipment. Months later I started a mostly-new life in Birmingham, Alabama, a city that from the start I could tell wouldn’t be as innately challenging as New York. That was a relief, but the feeling wore off as the reality of starting over set in. There was no nearby Mud to serve as my hideout, and there weren’t many people I could have shared it with even if there were. Urban Standard opened a few months later and provided Downtown Birmingham with just the kind of expertly-made coffee and social space I needed.

New York: Mud Coffee with Almond-Crusted French Toast. Photo by Dan Schumacher

New York: Mud Coffee with Almond-Crusted French Toast. Photo by Dan Schumacher

After that [necessary? useful?] preamble, we fast-forward from mid-2007 to this past weekend, when I met up with longtime friend and fellow coffee lover Carla Jean. We brunched at Mud, whose food I’d never eaten. Once the sturdy orange mug was in my hand, it was like I’d never left. Their coffee, which I took black (like my heart), was surprisingly full-bodied and silky for drip. Our server explained their method (using more ground coffee, simply enough) as we finished our almond-crusted french toast.

Canon Ball Presents: Prints Gone Wild Bunny Graffiti

Canon Ball Presents: Prints Gone Wild Bunny Graffiti. Photo by Dan Schumacher

From Mud, we headed to Williamsburg’s Secret Project Robot Art Space for the Cannonball Press print show. One of my favorite letterpress houses–Yee-Haw Industries of Knoxville Tenn.–was on hand with their beautiful prints and will be back in NYC this December for the Chelsea Market Christmas thing. Carla Jean had to head back to Midtown in a rush, so she missed out on Blue Bottle. Oh did she miss out on some sweet, sweet coffee.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee. Photo by Dan Schumacher

After randomly running into a former suitemate who turned out to be periodic percussionist for the Richmond, VA band The Diamond Center, I met up with an old friend at Blue Bottle. They are perhaps best known for their niche brewing techniques, which include nel drip and siphon, and they are certainly worth a inter-borough trip. The weather was brisk but I was overdressed and overheating so I opted for a New Orleans iced coffee (pictured, top). It was, as the menu suggests, slightly sweet and just milky enough. The experience would have been perfect if stroller-toting hipster parents had kept their monstrous baby carts from impeding traffic at every turn. But that’s what you get in Brooklyn. I can’t wait to go back and try some hot coffee.

I’m always taking suggestions, so if you have a favorite coffee spot in the city (or anywhere. I’ll travel), please hit me up with a comment.

Coffee at Mud IMG_2660 Canon Ball Presents: Prints Gone Wild Poster Canon Ball Presents: Prints Gone Wild Bunny Graffiti Canon Ball Presents: Prints Gone Wild Side Graffiti

Skip is the producer of The Gourmetro. He can’t find his French press and it kills him, absolutely, every day. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanie November 10, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I’m caffeine-free, since it gives me the crazies, but everyone I know swears that Blue Bottle is the best in the city. However, it does have a reputation for being EXTRA caffeinated, and therefore, only a “special occasion” coffee.

Carla Jean November 11, 2010 at 6:03 am

I’m so glad I got to experience the place where you fell in love with coffee–and I’m also glad I got to see your expression the first time you visited Urban Standard. Do you remember that? I can picture it clearly, because you were so clearly a first timer: You had that dazed, “this is too good to be true” look on your face and I knew you were in love.

Ah, coffee. I may need to pay Urban a visit this morning. I’ve already got an appointment on the books for this afternoon.

Skip November 11, 2010 at 8:11 am

For Joanie: I could use a little less caffeine some days and am glad I limited my Blue Bottle to only one Nola iced coffee. The jitters and subway travel do not mix well for me.

For CJ: I’m glad we got to experience Mud together too, and while I don’t remember the exact first moment I walked into Urban, I do know that it would been a good fit for some Brooklyn neighborhood (and that’s part of the reason I latched onto it so wholeheartedly. That and the macchiatos).

CJ November 11, 2010 at 11:43 am

It was the day this story was photographed. I think they took my picture after you left.

http://www.bwcitypaper.com/Articles-i-2008-02-21-213540.112112-Not-Your-Standard-Fare.html#12388246

I also vividly recall my first day, which, thanks to the magic of Gmail, I can confirm was Dec. 11, 2007. Siiiigh. Memories.

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