Visiting La Colombe in New York’s NoHo neighborhood mid-afternoon on a Tuesday was a fun and energizing experience. The place felt like an old train station depot made new with high ceilings, decorative ceiling tiles and the hustle-bustle of a social gathering/grab and go cafe. My friend and I sped through the line and ordered lattes and an olive oil bread (tasted like a spice cake) and took a seat by the windows. There was plenty of time for people watching and that’s mostly what we did. It was busy and boisterous, and the experience was fun. The espresso machines looked bizarre with plastic tubes and whatnot—later I learned they were Steampunk machines made to replicate different brewing processes. The latte tasted great as did the spice cake. I wonder if Starbucks will go Steampunk soon?
Peregrine Espresso in Capitol/Eastern Market to me feels like a neighborhood coffeehouse with the stop and go convenience of a coffee chain. It makes sense with their name (according to their website one definition is ‘roving’). Customers come and go, though their patio and indoor space holds plenty of people longer. They offer Counter Culture espresso drinks, single-origin drip in the a.m. and a good amount of micro-brew is prepared to order throughout the day. The first time I visited here I tried one of their specials, a Cortado with taihini and fresh ginger (pictured below). It was like a gourmet Asian meal hopped into my espresso cup!
The second time I visited Peregrine was mid-city DC on 14th street and stuck to the basics: cappuccino and ginger cream scone. The drink looked nice with great texture, went a bit sour on sipping. I’ve had great luck with Counter Culture’s pour-over in the past, think I’ll stick to that. The scone was nice and dense and tasted great. I got some work done on the laptop, sans wi-fi. The man sitting next to me had a paperback copy of Persepolis lying face down on the table in favor of the morning news and kept saying ‘bless you’ when I sneezed. Nice atmosphere, clean scene.
(Their logo: cool upside-down letter ‘e’ on the wall art!)
Joe the Art of Coffee in Chelsea makes for a trendy neighborhood stop-in. I went in early morning to check the place out (I’d heard they had multiple locations and were well-respected) and promptly ordered a cup of pour over that mentioned notes of peach. After running down the street to an ATM (they are cash only) I observed the barista prepare my drink. He was friendly and knowledgeable and chatted with a customer about the guy’s home espresso machine. The whole process ran smoothly, although it seemed during a rush things could get stressed. Sort of reminded me of Peregrine’s in Washington DC with a slightly different flavor of staff (nerdy-but-not-hipster and totally friendly, while keeping professional flair). Maybe this is a New York thing? My friend ordered a similar one to compare taste. I still prefer the Adido’s sour berry notes as mine tasted fermenty-sweet (not sure if this was process related or just what peach notes in coffee taste like). I sometimes get over-excited about new menu offerings and forget that tasting is different than drinking a whole cup of brew and secretly wished I’d ordered a cappuccino. My friend and I enjoyed sipping nevertheless and surveyed customers chatting in the cafe who seemed to know the employees by name. Overall, nice experience and a blast of much needed caffeine as well as AC.
(note the frosted window decal)
I had heard about Cafe Grumpy, and the name made me smile. My friend and I walked straight past it and a man out walking his dogs pointed us back a half block and across the street. Cafe Grumpy sits in a cool spot under leafy tree cover, behind angle-in parked cars in the middle of laid back Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan, NY. Inside, it’s the same. Ample space, outdoor back patio, a cool vibe and non-assuming, friendly cafe folk who help you out when you ask.
I ordered a white peach iced tea as I’d already had too much caffeine, and sipped on my friend’s latte. Both were fine and tasted great. It was great to sit there and just enjoy the atmosphere. I felt creative, contemplative. Near the end of our stay I went back up for a chocolate chip cookie. It tasted homemade. I mentioned how I liked the vibe of the place to the barista and that being from Seattle, it reminded me of being there. Turns out Grumpy’s is from Victrola’s in Seattle. You can definitely feel it in the bones of the place and in your own.
One more thing to love about New York.
So excited to see flower stands (and bakeries) on every corner. This one was in Chelsea. Beautiful!