A colleague of mine recently bemoaned the lack of good coffee in New York City. She said it was surprising that in a city full of amazing food, the coffee was mediocre at best. When Starbucks is your best option, you know something’s wrong.
(Personally, I have a small affection for Starbucks in New York: the only time I’ve been to the city was several years ago to help work at a Web design conference. I flew in the night before, so I didn’t get to see much of the city. The hotel was right at Times Square, but because it was a conference, most of one’s time is spent indoors. However, on the first morning, I offered to fetch coffees for my fellow workers at the closest Starbucks. I clearly remember stepping out of the hotel and into a mass of people, packed like Disneyland on the fourth of July, headed in all directions. It was truly amazing for this Idaho-raised boy.)
Good espresso can be had in New York, however, and the New York Times has written up some of the places to find it: Espresso’s New Wave Hits Town. I particularly like this passage:
At cafes that are part of what some call the artisanal coffee movement the drinks reflect an obsession with each detail of the journey from farm to cup and an almost cultish pride in the results.
Those results are apparent as soon as you pick up the cup. The crema that crowns these espressos is a ruddy, alluring come-on that persists as you decide whether it’s closer to the color of terra cotta or burnt sienna. It’s not the pale froth that quickly dissipates on lesser espressos. And it’s evidence that the sugars and oils in the coffee have been properly emulsified through careful brewing.