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THE BEST: NYC Espresso

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Admin: Since espresso in the City is generally of a poor quality, and since those of us who would like to enjoy a good shot every so often might like to know about where to go, I've split some posts from the NoHo Barista thread to create this one. Please chime in with NYC's best. - slk

PS and off-topic, I had a visit to Via Quadronno the other day.  What an espresso.  I wanted to drink five.

PPS and also off-topic.  Years ago I read that there actually is a great barista somewhere in the east village--part of the .01%?  Does anybody know where s/he is?

Could be the shop on the west side of First Avenue about 11th or 12th Streets. My understanding is that they're also the agents for Danessi. I've had good coffee (espresso) there.

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That is most likely Ninth Street Espresso (formerly known as Higher Grounds). Yes they are the real deal.

I have not yet tried Joe the Art of Coffee on Waverly but have heard positive reports from people whose opinions I trust. I can personally attest to the fact that Gimme Coffee does a great job with espresso - at their original/main Ithaca store just a month or two back I had the best machiatto... possibly the overall best espresso drink of any kind... that I've ever had anywhere.

It's a schlep for you Manhattanites but they do have a store in W'burg.

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I think the place being referred to is actually Tarallucci e Vino, on the NW corner of 10th St. and First Ave.

They are the distributors for Danesi, and rumor has it they're opening another place somewhere around Union Square.

They make a pretty good espresso, and good pastries/panini too.

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I think the place being referred to is actually Tarallucci e Vino, on the NW corner of 10th St. and First Ave.

Ahhhh - thanks! Just checked a map - 9th Street Espresso is way over at the corner of Avenue C but I'm told that it's worth the hike.

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Obviously 9th Street Espresso and Tarallucci e Vino are two separate places. They're far enough away from each other not to be competing, but it would be intersting to read a comparison.

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Well we seem to be getting pretty far off-topic here but I'm ready to offer a comparison between these two places as I hit Tarallucci e Vino today and 9th Street Espresso yesterday.

I'm an espresso fiend so I can't speak to what happens at either place when they dilute their coffee with milk products and sugar and spices and things. I asked the barista at 9th street to make me his best espresso whatever that was. He offered a triple ristretto. I said ok. The proportion was good. Temperature, good. Flavor, a touch bitter. Crema very dark. Mouthfeel, just about right. Chewy, nice oil extraction. To my mind, either his beans are over roasted, a little over the hill, or there was too much coffee in the basket. Too fine a grind maybe. . . probably not that. Hell I don't know. All I can say is that the coffee was a touch bitter and the crema too dark. (maybe this is a common characteristic of the triple ristretto? Couldn't say.) Today's espresso was a single made by a less skilled barista with Danesi coffee. It was smoother. Nice crema, lighter body--a little too light I think. Too hot and the volume was a touch off, which would account for the thinness of the pull. On the balance though I think it was a nicer drink than the triple ristretto. Not that one should expect either to be as I described on a future visit. Espresso is a fickle bride, anemic and bitter one day, unctuous and full-bodied the next.

I'll go back to both of these places whenever I'm nearby. Both take coffee seriously and you are likely to have a good experience at either. 9th street vibes like a Seattle joint (this coming from a native Seattleite) It's nice to let somebody else do the pulling from time to time.

Edited to add that in my limited experience, neither is as good as Via Quadronno.

I've been spending weekends on the North Fork of Long Island this summer. There's a fellow named Aldo who has a cafe in Greenport. He's an artist with the coffee. Buys green. Roasts right there in the shop. Works the machine from 7am through the day taking time off to make the best scones anybody ever ate. Worth a visit. Don't expect to catch him in a good mood though.


Edited by ned (log)

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Obviously 9th Street Espresso and Tarallucci e Vino are two separate places. They're far enough away from each other not to be competing, but it would be interesting to read a comparison.

Obvious yes but not immediately so to me when I responded to the original comment. :smile:

I'm inclined to think that the bitterness of the triple ristretto at Taralucci was more an artifact of roast style than anything else. It could also be from overextraction of the fines from too fine a grind setting but that seems less likely.

Years ago I read that there actually is a great barista somewhere in the east village

I'm not well versed in the current exact demarcation that separate various areas in Manhattan and in my mind the lines that define Alphabet City, LES and the East Village have gotten fuzzy (but probably just in my mind as I so rarely get down to NYC these days).

Interesting comparison and I'll have to try both places.

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Any restaurants make an espresso that doesn't suck?

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My favorite espresso in NYC is at Al Bustan.

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Casse Croute Tribecca, on West Broadway, just south of Chambers. Make sure Sophie makes your coffee (she is not always there). It's very clear that technique is critical.


Edited by Todd36 (log)

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Any restaurants make an espresso that doesn't suck?

In NYC? I've always assumed the answer is that they all suck. But Todd36 has piqued my curiosity. It seems tragic to me that Caffe Reggio on Bleecker Street, the location of the first commercial espresso machine ever installed in the US (yes it is still on display!), has seriously bad espresso.

Elsewhere in the US? Very doubtful. I'm still waiting to hear what they're doing for espresso service at Alinea in Chicago but thus far no reports.

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Casse Croute Tribecca, on West Broadway, just south of Chambers.  Make sure Sophie makes your coffee (she is not always there).  It's very clear that technique is critical.

Interesting comment, Todd. I suppose it is true that technique is critical. But what baffles me is that the technique is also incredibly easy to master, at least up to the "doesn't suck" level, and even up to "damn good." It certainly didn't take me a lot of training to make better-than-I've-ever-had-in-America espresso on my Rancilio at home, and I don't exactly dedicate a great deal of energy to maintaining or refining my technique. So, what this tells me is that making good-to-very good espresso, assuming good raw materials, really comes down to three things: keeping the machines properly maintained and calibrated, giving the staff some kind of minimal training and, most important of all, making sure that the staff actually cares.

I got an espresso recently at Regional that, while not as good as I make at home, was good enough to be in the top 1% of NYC restaurant espresso.

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I'm not the coffee afficionado that some of the above posters are, but I've had some great cappucino at Egidio's in Arthur Ave.; I imagine their espresso would be at least at the "doesn't suck" level.

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I actually think that who makes the coffee is critical. I eat out frequently enough in the same places where I can see the person operating the machine to conclude that technique is critical. I live on the upper west side and frequent several cafes. For example, the coffee at La Fortunia is quite good, but only when this one guy from Columbia the country makes it. For people with home machines, I'd be curious to see what would happen if you bought a can of Bustelo...I wonder how bad it would be...maybe not as bad as you think, my guess is that with technique it would be decent coffee. I've also noticed that high end restaurants have good coffee, meaning say Jean Georges. In a lower price range, try Cafe Trotsky on Orchard Street, they use Meinl coffee and its good.

And you thought I could only give odd opinions of Japanese restaurants and bizzare circular arguments....

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Any restaurants make an espresso that doesn't suck?

It's been so long sice I've been there I guess I forgot. . . the Neue Gallery's restaurant Cafe Sabarasky which is a cousin of Wallse in the west village makes a nice espresso. Interestingly, they always serve it with a small glass of sparkling water to be drunk after the coffee. It's a nice tradition--an Austrian one for those not familiar with Wallse and Sabarsky--the fizzy water wipes the oily coffee off the tongue leaving the drinker sharpened in mind and fresh in mouth.

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Any restaurants make an espresso that doesn't suck?

It's been so long sice I've been there I guess I forgot. . . the Neue Gallery's restaurant Cafe Sabarasky which is a cousin of Wallse in the west village makes a nice espresso. Interestingly, they always serve it with a small glass of sparkling water to be drunk after the coffee. It's a nice tradition--an Austrian one for those not familiar with Wallse and Sabarsky--the fizzy water wipes the oily coffee off the tongue leaving the drinker sharpened in mind and fresh in mouth.

They also use Meinl coffee ....whice is not that expensive nor that fresh....which makes you wonder about certain things...I like their coffeee as well.

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71 Irving Place also seems to have pretty good coffee.

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71 Irving Place also seems to have pretty good coffee.

unfortunately, i find the place too bitter. it has some of the most bitter coffee, employees and regulars. cute place, otherwise, with a nice choice of delivered pastries. the food is grossly overpriced. in general, irving place is probably one of the most beautiful streets, err places, in the city. however, irving 71 is overrated.


Edited by henryjunior (log)

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Edited to add that in my limited experience, neither is as good as Via Quadronno.

I thoroughly enjoyed my espresso *but* was a bit shocked that my bill came to $15. granted, i should have been paying attention to the prices. i got a triple followed by a double and nearly had a quadruple. nice smooth cup but inconsistant. excessively, attractive establishment. a great place to grab an expen$ive espresso when you find yourself on the upper east side (near the park.) the food looked pretty nice. bready/doughy croisants a la southern italian style.


Edited by henryjunior (log)

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I'm not the coffee afficionado that some of the above posters are, but I've had some great cappucino at Egidio's in Arthur Ave.; I imagine their espresso would be at least at the "doesn't suck" level.

sure it's on arthur ave, and as such probably has a legacy to live up to (which it didn't for me.) it looks like something that would popup in a touristy part of italy. just about the nicest thing i could say is that it doesn't suck so that was an apt description. on 4 separate occasions i was totally unimpressed. felt cool being there but the drink wasn't special to me.


Edited by henryjunior (log)

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That is most likely Ninth Street Espresso  (formerly known as Higher Grounds).  Yes they are the real deal. 

'here-here' so far i have to say that ninth street espresso (between ave C and ave D) is the best espresso i've had in the city, by far. and it's consistantly good. and the prices are great. and the staff is friendly. it's where it is, the east-east village. so it's outta the way and has a distinct crowd. quite frankly though, it's much more in line with the spirit of an espresso bar than anything i've seen on the island. definitely give this place a try, it's well worth the trip.

nice article on 'where to find' decent brews:

http://www.nydailynews.com/city_life/story...6p-280918c.html

I have not yet tried Joe the Art of Coffee on Waverly but have heard positive reports from people whose opinions I trust.  I can personally attest to the fact that Gimme Coffee does a great job with espresso - at their original/main Ithaca store just a month or two back I had the best machiatto...  possibly the overall best espresso drink of any kind...  that I've ever had anywhere.

It's a schlep for you Manhattanites but they do have a store in W'burg.

still haven't made it out to gimme but i am told it's the real deal. can't wait to go.

now, joe -- that place is just super over hyped. they have a press machine spewing out noise but i can tell you it ain't worth the attention it gets. sure, it's above average but you'd think it was the best cup in the city. it's not. ninth street espresso is the best i've found. if i'm mistaken, someone please enlighten me. i'm always down to try a new spot.

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Strike me down. . .

I had a respectable espresso (albeit served in a paper cup) at the Whole Foods Cafe that` overlooks Union Square. I wouldn't go out of my way for it but when you're in need of a shot, it's head and shoulders better than anywhere else in the area.

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Edited to add that in my limited experience, neither is as good as Via Quadronno.

I thoroughly enjoyed my espresso *but* was a bit shocked that my bill came to $15. granted, i should have been paying attention to the prices. i got a triple followed by a double and nearly had a quadruple.

henryjunior - nice to see you here and your insights are truly appreciated. Could I posisbly have read that correctly? A double espresso and a triple espresso came to almost $15? Here in my little town a double is generally $1.75 to $2 and a triple (only at Starbucks as most places just offer singles or doubles) is about $3.

We offer a quad - two ristretto doubles - for $2.50. I've been in pricey and upscale restaurants where espresso (admittedly not very good quality) was overpriced but still cheaper than the prices you mentioned. Even in Manhattan that seems really, really steep.

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Another vote here for Irving 71, as well as for Whole Foods on Union Square (I was surprised by that too)

I also like the espresso at the belgian Leonidas chain, Klatch on Maiden Lane in the financial district, and the Mangia chain.

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