I’m sitting in a café in Lower Manhattan and a barista has just checked on our table- for the third time. Do we need any more coffee? Is everything tasting alright? Can we take those dishes out of your way? This is an uncommon occurrence in American coffee shops. In New York’s financial district, it’s shocking. But then again, there’s a lot of things surprising about Black Fox Coffee….
One of the most rewarding aspects of competing in barista competitions is not the moment in the limelight or even the free swag, it’s the friendships one makes with other committed coffee professionals. We were excited to learn one of our barista comp friends just took an exciting new position with Brooklyn’s Variety Coffee Roasters. We caught up with Erika Vonie to chat about working with a new roaster, competing in barista competitions, and the best place to drink coffee in NYC. All photos by Ashley Revell.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get started in the coffee industry?
My involvement in specialty coffee began when I moved to Philadelphia in 2009 and started …
New York City occupies an almost mythic place in the American mind. Countless stories have been written about the young traveler to the city, looking for fame, for fortune, or simply, for a place to live. Many years ago they might have gotten off a boat at Ellis Island. Today, they might drive their Subaru Forrester to Williamsburg via the BQE. Then, and now, all roads lead to the Five Burroughs, and especially, to Manhattan.
Working as an implementation consultant for a software company, I was ecstatic to schedule a business trip to the Big Apple, my first time in the city. An aspiring foodie and a passionate surfer of coffee’s Third Wave, I asked around to see where I should get my food and drink.
Suggestions were plentiful, but to my chagrin, few of them could be synced with my team’s whirlwind 48 hour itinerary. Our client was in the Financial District, just a block off Wall Street, and between traffic and common sense, we wouldn’t be able to make a morning stop at a quality café, unless it was within reasonable walking distance from their office. Armed with Blue Crow Media’s “New York’s Best Coffee” app, I solved our problem. Bluestone Lane –Financial District would be our place….
Jesse Harriott is no stranger to long-time readers of The Coffee Compass. Jesse’s curriculum vitae reads like a greatest hits record: award winning coffee roaster, co-founder of America’s Best Coffee House Competition, and the fist person to ever represent Kentucky in a barista competition. In addition to being a specialty coffee mentor of ours, Jesse has conducted several interviews for the Compass, including with World Barista Champion Pete Licata. Now Jesse can add “founder of Copper Horse Coffee Roastery” to that list.
When I first heard that Jesse was leaving Sunergos Coffee to help start a new roastery in his native Ithaca, New York, I was ecstatic. Anyone who has met Jesse can testify to his skill and passion for roasting coffee. The sad reality that our close-knit coffee community in Louisville is losing one of its pillars has yet to set in, but anyone with Jesse’s giftings deserves to be at the helm of their own project.
The good news is that you can be one of the first people to try coffee roasted by Copper Horse by backing them on Kickstarter. I’ve got my eye on that Brazil Cup of Excellence winning coffee from producer Fazenda Recreio. Regardless, upstate New York should be excited to have another fantastic coffee roaster in the area.
The Empire State building dominates the the Manhattan Skyline, but a good cup of coffee in Midtown is a little harder to spot. In an area of town largely dominated by department stores, Culture Espresso is a little miracle on 38th Street.
Although they recently switched to Heart Coffee Roasters, when I visited, Culture was serving Sightglass Coffee from San Francisco. I’ve been consistently impressed by Sightglass since I visited their roastery, and opportunities to enjoy their coffee on the East Coast are rare. Manhattan cafes are dominated by …
Joe’s Pro Shop: A Toy Store For Coffee Nerds
Many of the most iconic films in movie history take place in New York. Annie Hall, The Godfather, Wall Street, the list goes on. But one work of cinematic genius stands head and shoulders above the rest. A film whose sweeping cinematography and compelling storytelling single-handedly shaped my perspective of America’s first city. Of course this film …
The Big Apple. Gotham. The City that Never Sleeps. Whatever you call it, New York has emerged as a premier coffee destination. In previous years New Yorkers were notorious for drinking their coffee cheap and fast. But today New York is no longer a johnny-come-lately in the craft coffee scene. Just a cursory glance at the New York Times coffee map reveals one doesn’t have to walk more than a few blocks to get a decent cup in lower Manhattan or Brooklyn. For someone plotting an NYC cafe crawl, the choices can be overwhelming.
Thankfully, everyone I polled was unanimous: go to Everyman Espresso in SoHo first.
The Tattoo Heard Round the World
For the past seven years Everyman has been churning out specialty coffee in the lobby of the Classic Stage Company. The postage stamp sized bar has redefined most baristas’ concept of personal space, but the quality of the drinks and the service has drawn more than just theater lovers to this East Village cafe.
Perhaps Everyman’s biggest mark on the NY coffee scene has been owner Sam Penix’s iconic knuckle tattoo, which the New York Times featured in this ground-breaking article. Now, fittingly, the tat adorns the front door of the new Everyman Espresso in SoHo.
Perfect Bar Flow
When Sam Penix and right-hand man Sam Lewontin opened up Everyman SoHo in 2012, they wanted to design a bar with …