Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
weinoo

Coffee Renaissance in New York City

Recommended Posts

This past Sunday's NY Times ran a big article about New York's coffee "renaissance," which is all well and good, but I have a concern and wondered how everyone else felt about this.

Southside is about one thing and one thing only: well-made, well-prepared coffee. It is also among a number of coffee shops that have opened across the city recently, most of them in the past two years.

Add to the list Cafe Grumpy; Think; Oslo; Verb; Mud; Ninth Street Espresso; Gimme! Coffee; Jack’s Stir Brew; Joe, the Art of Coffee; Abraço Espresso; Everyman Espresso — and that’s not all. These coffee shops come in many guises: big with lots of tables; small with barely enough counter space to lean on; some serving food and even liquor, others offering only a few pastries; and a growing number of them selling beans from some of the world’s best roasters.

My problem is that I can't seem to get a properly (to me, at least) drawn espresso or doppio at the cafes that I've been to. The shots are too short, not hot enough, and they're friggin' bitter, but not in a good espresso way. Some of these cafes are pulling ristrettos (triples even - seriously, who drinks a triple ristretto, 20 or more grams of coffee to make 1 ounce of "liquid?"), which I wouldn't mind if they were good ristrettos. The other day I was in one of the cafes mentioned in the article, and I asked for a double drawn a little long - I was told that it couldn't be done that way (so they've never heard of a lungo, a double drawn to about 2.5 ounces) , but the barista said he could pour two ristrettos into a cup...he did, it sucked. Last week my wife and I were at a fancy cafe, where I went to watch the barista make our doppios - everything was at the ready (the $15,000 espresso machine, the scale for tamping, the great beans, etc.); the barista actually pulled a shot or two first to get into the groove of pulling an espresso, then drew our two doppios - they sucked.

My set-up at home is a PIDd Silvia/Rocky combo. I pull mainly Black Cat or Kid-O, both from Intellegentsia. My coffee hits the cup at around 172 degrees. I pull a 1.5 - 1. 75 ounce shot in 25 - 30 seconds, using 15 - 18 grams of coffee - depending on which basket I happen to have in my portafilter. The shots are delicious - the equal we've had anywhere in Italy on a number of trips (my point of reference).

So, what's going on in all these fantastic cafes? Do the baristas really know what an espresso should taste like and how hot it should be,or are they pulling all their shots based on how they'll be in milk based drinks (my guess), when the temperature of the shot doesn't really matter. How can I get a decently pulled shot when I go to one of these cafes participating in the renaissance? That's what I want for my $3 - a true espresso, served hot; not something that's meant to be diluted with 5 ounces of steamed milk...it's also why I bought the Silvia and rarely have espresso outside of my kitchen.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep looking Mitch...and when you find one that meets your standards, let me know. No place I've been to has been able to match the cheap, anywhere you go shots that I experienced in Portugal. Why is it so difficult?

I'm no expert, but I know what I like...and it's pretty easy to i.d. a bad pull.


Carlo A. Balistrieri

The Gardens at Turtle Point

Tuxedo Park, NY

BotanicalGardening.com and its BG Blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

weinoo -- I read the article on Sunday, and read your response with interest. Espresso is still very new to me, and in truth at this stage I wouldn't know a good from a bad pull if it hit me in the head. But I sure as hell would know hot from not hot, and even to this novice that sounds unacceptable.

Have you contacted coffee shop managers/owners with your feedback? I think maybe they are cashing in on most people's ignorance? (IOW, am I about to become a sucker?!)

Do you think the problem has anything to do with the coffee that is being used? Or is it the method?

Intelligentisa Coffee (which is where I order my coffee, although I use a French press) has weekly (free) cuppings in NY, and I am going to one tomorrow morning. (Call in advance for an appointment.) I am half-tempted to bring your comments with me! I like to know what I should be looking for in a good espresso -- hopefully I'll learn a lot tomorrow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
weinoo -- I read the article on Sunday, and read your response with interest. Espresso is still very new to me, and in truth at this stage I wouldn't know a good from a bad pull if it hit me in the head. But I sure as hell would know hot from not hot, and even to this novice that sounds unacceptable.

Have you contacted coffee shop managers/owners with your feedback? I think maybe they are cashing in on most people's ignorance? (IOW, am I about to become a sucker?!)

Do you think the problem has anything to do with the coffee that is being used? Or is it the method?

Intelligentisa Coffee (which is where I order my coffee, although I use a French press) has weekly (free) cuppings in NY, and I am going to one tomorrow morning. (Call in advance for an appointment.) I am half-tempted to bring your comments with me! I like to know what I should be looking for in a good espresso -- hopefully I'll learn a lot tomorrow.

Actually, at the cupping tomorrow morning, you're probably not going to learn much about espresso, but more about the coffee itself...which is also a good thing.

As far as contacting the shop owners/managers, I think that in this 3rd wave of cafes, some of the baristas are probably the owners and/or managers, or the baristas are being trained by the owners/managers. But there's no doubt in my mind that a shot meant for a milk drink may be pulled much differently than one for a straight espresso. Notice what Carlo says about espressos in Portugal - that's been my experience in Italy as well.

And I don't think it's the coffee - I've had the same experience whether they're pulling Stumptown, Counter Culture, Gimme, or whatever.

Feel free to bring my comments in - I'd like to hear what the Intellegentsia have to say.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I don't think it's the coffee - I've had the same experience whether they're pulling Stumptown, Counter Culture, Gimme, or whatever.

Feel free to bring my comments in - I'd like to hear what the Intellegentsia have to say.

You can get Stumptown in NY?


Barrett Jones - 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

Dwell Time - my coffee and photography site

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I don't think it's the coffee - I've had the same experience whether they're pulling Stumptown, Counter Culture, Gimme, or whatever.

Feel free to bring my comments in - I'd like to hear what the Intellegentsia have to say.

You can get Stumptown in NY?

I'm pretty sure it's what they've been pulling at 9th St. espresso.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
heh. I didn't know that they had opened up a roaster in NY.

They haven't yet but they're going to soon, according to the barrista at 9th st. (yes, they use stumptown and sell the beans, too).

I've had great espresso at 9th st. (the 10th st. location), and Joe (the grand central location). I've heard nothing but great things about Abraco, but they close early and I never get there in time. I trust they know more about coffee than about coffee shop hours.


Notes from the underbelly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My problem is that I can't seem to get a properly (to me, at least) drawn espresso or doppio at the cafes that I've been to. The shots are too short, not hot enough, and they're friggin' bitter, but not in a good espresso way. Some of these cafes are pulling ristrettos (triples even - seriously, who drinks a triple ristretto, 20 or more grams of coffee to make 1 ounce of "liquid?"), which I wouldn't mind if they were good ristrettos. The other day I was in one of the cafes mentioned in the article, and I asked for a double drawn a little long - I was told that it couldn't be done that way (so they've never heard of a lungo, a double drawn to about 2.5 ounces) , but the barista said he could pour two ristrettos into a cup...he did, it sucked. Last week my wife and I were at a fancy cafe, where I went to watch the barista make our doppios - everything was at the ready (the $15,000 espresso machine, the scale for tamping, the great beans, etc.); the barista actually pulled a shot or two first to get into the groove of pulling an espresso, then drew our two doppios - they sucked.

My set-up at home is a PIDd Silvia/Rocky combo. I pull mainly Black Cat or Kid-O, both from Intellegentsia. My coffee hits the cup at around 172 degrees. I pull a 1.5 - 1. 75 ounce shot in 25 - 30 seconds, using 15 - 18 grams of coffee - depending on which basket I happen to have in my portafilter. The shots are delicious - the equal we've had anywhere in Italy on a number of trips (my point of reference).

I'm bumping this thread from over 3 years ago because I just stumbled across this article from last week. In the article, Oliver Strand reports on one Mike White, a a barista who is documenting the so-called fall of the New York shot. Who knew that what I complained about those many years ago had a name:

White is also documenting the decline and fall of the so-called New York shot, a dense, syrupy style of espresso that took hold a few years ago. It’s what you get when you updose (by packing the filter basket with enough coffee for two to three shots) and pull the espresso short (by using a fine grind and stopping the water before one full ounce drips into the cup).

Now it seems...

It turns out that was a phase. Today, espressos are still updosed (although not as much), but usually pulled longer; the extra time and additional water give the flavors room to develop and unfold so that the shots have more sweetness, more cream, more fruit. There’s more clarity.

A phase?! Who are you kidding? The coffee sucked. So what you really mean is the coffee's better now. About fucking time.

And yes, I'm a 5%-er. That's evidently the percentage of people who go into coffee shops and order an espresso.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      This arose from this topic, where initially @Anna N asked about tea not being served at the celebratory meal I attended. I answered that it is uncommon for tea to be served with meals (with one major exception). I was then asked for further elucidation by @Smithy. I did start replying on the topic but the answer got longer than I anticipated and was getting away from the originally intended topic about one specific meal. So here were are..
       
      I'd say there are four components to tea drinking in China.

      a) When you arrive at a restaurant, you are often given a pot of tea which people will sip while contemplating the menu and waiting for other  guests to arrive. Dining out is very much a group activity, in the main. When everyone is there and the food dishes start to arrive the tea is nearly always forgotten about. The tea served like this will often be a fairly cheap, common brand - usually green.
       
      You also may be given a cup of tea in a shop if your purchase is a complicated one. I recently bought a new lap top and the shop assistant handed me tea to sip as she took down the details of my requirements. Also, I recently had my eyes re-tested in order to get new spectacles. Again, a cup of tea was provided. Visit someone in an office or have a formal meeting and tea or water will be provided.
       
      b) You see people walking about with large flasks (not necessarily vacuum flasks) of tea which they sip during the day to rehydrate themselves. Taxi drivers, bus drivers, shop keepers etc all have their tea flask.  Of course, the tea goes cold. I have a vacuum flask, but seldom use it - not a big tea fan. There are shops just dedicated to selling the drinks flasks.
       
      c) There has been a recent fashion for milk tea and bubble tea here, two trends imported from Hong Kong and Taiwan respectively. It is sold from kiosks and mainly attracts younger customers. McDonald's and KFC both do milk and bubble teas.
       

      Bubble and Milk Tea Stall
       

      And Another
       

      And another - there are hundreds of them around!
       

      McDonald's Ice Cream and Drinks Kiosk.


      McDonald's Milk Tea Ad
       
      d) There are very formal tea tastings and tea ceremonies, similar in many ways to western wine tastings. These usually take place in tea houses where you can sample teas and purchase the tea for home use. These places can be expensive and some rare teas attract staggering prices. The places doing this pride themselves on preparing the tea perfectly and have their special rituals. I've been a few times, usually with friends, but it's not really my thing. Below is one of the oldest serious tea houses in the city. As you can see, they don't go out of their way to attract custom. Their name implies they are an educational service as much as anything else. Very expensive!
       

      Tea House

      Supermarkets and corner shops carry very little tea. This is the entire tea shelving in my local supermarket. Mostly locally grown green tea.
       

       

      Local Guangxi Tea
       
      The most expensive in the supermarket was this Pu-er Tea (普洱茶 pǔ ěr chá) from Yunnan province. It works out at ¥0.32per gram as opposed to ¥0.08 for the local stuff. However, in the tea houses, prices can go much, much higher!
       

       
       
    • By catdaddy
      Mrs catdaddy has been good this year and I'm considering buying a Rancilio Silvia as a Christmas present. I know this machine gets a lot of love here, especially when outfitted with a PID. After reading many posts I'm just wondering if there is anything new (since 2013 say) I should know about  the Rancilio or other great machine on the market?
       
      Also any tips about use and/or essential other tools.....like a good knock box. We've got a great grinder already.
    • By Fernwood
      Anyone familiar with this little joint in the Village?  I assume some Brazilian roots because of items like pao de queijo and brigadeiros on the menu.  I would love to know about the coffee in the latte my husband brought me--such a bright flavor, not at all like typical espresso of my experience.  At home in CT we have access to a pretty great local roaster with quite a range of coffees.  I wish I knew about the coffee in that O Cafe latte so I could try for something similar from Willoughby's.  
    • By alacarte
      I recently took a trip to Northern Italy, and was delighted to find that the cappuccino everywhere was just wonderful, without exception. Smooth, flavorful, aromatic perfect crema, strong but not too strong.
      Aside from the obvious answer (duh, Italians created cappuccino ), what makes Italian capp so fantastic, and how do I duplicate the effect here?
      I'm wondering if it's the water, the way the coffee is ground or stored, the machines used....I'm baffled.
      Also noticed that the serving size tended to be smaller than what I'm used to -- i.e. a small teacupful vs. a brimming mug or Starbucks supersize. Not sure why that is either.
      Grazie mille for any insight on this!
    • By thecuriousone
      Hi everybody-
      Where can I find a recipe for mit schlage? I would like to make some coffee drinks for the holidays and top them with it. I havent been able to find anything other than a basic whipped cream recipe. Thanks for all of your help.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...