I Am Coffee Update

The I Am Coffee logo on St Mark's Place, New York CityOf all New York City’s fine Coffee Spots (and there are many), my favourite from my trip in 2013 was the wonderful, tiny and appropriately-named I Am Coffee on Saint Marks Place. So, naturally, I had to go back on my return in March this year and catch up with Giovanni, the inspiration behind I Am Coffee. Equally naturally, Giovanni wasn’t there, having gone on a business trip to Florida. I ask you, the lengths people go to avoid me!

However, I Am Coffee is still there and I was well looked after by the lovely Iker, Giovanni’s newest member of staff. Although the shop itself hasn’t changed much (and given the lack of space, that’s not a great surprise), there are changes going on behind the scenes.

The most important things, the wonderful coffee and the warm welcome, are still there in equal measure though, so I was happy.

March 2015: Bad news. On my return to New York, I found that I Am Coffee is closed, the shop shut up and everything gone…

You can see what I found after the gallery.

  • I Am Coffee on St Marks Place (from my first visit in 2013).
  • Inside, it's still the same: incredibly cramped and hard to photograph!
  • The writing on the menu might be slightly fancier now...
  • ... but it's pretty much the same offering as last year, albeit in a slightly different order!
  • This is the beautfiul E61 espresso machine that I was captivated by in 2013...
  • ... and it's still there in the corner this year. The only difference is that this time it's Iker who is steaming the milk...
  • ... and making the coffee...
  • The filter rack is still there at the end of the counter, with an Aeropress & three V60s.
  • Here Iker makes a pour-over.
  • Mind you, the filters themselves have changed: this is Giovanni last year...
  • There have been some other additions: this shelf, for example, had some space cleared...
  • But what's that on the middle shelf?
  • It's a model of I Am Coffee! It's perfect, lacking only a model of I Am Coffee on the shelf...
  • I also spotted this little fellow, although Giovanni promises me that he was there last year.
  • The major change is, however, in the beans: I Am Coffee has bought the roastery!
  • Last year's packaging looks a bit different.
  • What's going on here? Is Iker listening to something?
  • No, silly me. He's making a Shakerato!
  • Here it comes...
  • And here it is! (I cheated by the way: this is from last year)
  • Finally, my beautifully-presented, beautiful espresso.
  • Sometimes it gets served with the cup on the right. Or maybe I turned the tray around...
  • Me, trying to get arty with the light...
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I did actually manage to catch up with Giovanni later in my trip, calling in to see him on my last day in New York. I enjoyed both my visits to I Am Coffee and was pleased to see that the things that made it so special for me in 2013 hadn’t changed: the coffee was still wonderful and the welcome just as warm (for a full description of I Am Coffee, see my original write-up from last year).

Iker, the new barista, had only recently started, but you wouldn’t know it, given the way he seemed to belong behind the counter. He grew up in Italy, near Treviso, and came to New York City via Brisbane and Costa Rica, where he gained much of his coffee education. Giovanni met him on the steps leading up to I Am Coffee and offered him a job (at least, I think that’s the story…).

While I was there, I Am Coffee had a regular stream of customers, some of them just ordering take-away, others, like me, lingering at the counter for a chat. There were a few tourists and visitors, but an impressive number were locals and regulars, coming in for their daily fix.

The coffee offering is much the same, with espresso-based drinks from the E61 (which has the original body, but a refurbished interior), plus hand-poured filter coffee. No bulk-brew drip filter here, a rarity in American coffee shops. However, no-one seemed to mind the wait. While I was there, Iker went through pretty much the whole of I Am Coffee’s repertoire, including my favourite, the Shakerato.

I had an espresso, of course, served, as ever, on a beautiful, curved china tray with a glass of water. I Am Coffee’s presentation of its espresso is probably the best I’ve had. While I was there, the espresso was a single-origin Sidamo from Ethiopia, a very well-balanced coffee, with great body: the perfect espresso for me. There was another Ethiopian, a Yirgacheffe from Bunisenge, on filter, but that was due to change to a lightly-roasted bean from Panama (and has probably changed since).

Talking of coffee, this is where the major changes are taking place, with Giovanni having recently bought the roastery in Bergamo, Italy. He’s invested in a new coffee roaster and by the time you read this, I Am Coffee should be roasting all of its own beans before shipping them over from Italy. In many ways, Giovanni reminds me of Terrone & Co’s Edy Piro here in London. I wish him (and Edy) every success in their respective ventures!

As long as Giovanni and his team keep on making great coffee and giving their customers such a warm welcome, I’m sure I Am Coffee will go from strength to strength.

Don’t forget the original I Am Coffee Coffee Spot, which includes the complete write-up and an updated gallery.

9 SAINT MARKS PLACE • NEW YORK • NY 10003 • USA
www.facebook.com/iamcoffeenyc +1 917 826 1174
Monday 08:00 – 20:00 Seating No
Tuesday 08:00 – 20:00 Food Cake
Wednesday 08:00 – 20:00 Service Counter
Thursday 08:00 – 20:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa, PayPal
Friday 08:00 – 20:00 Wifi No
Saturday 08:00 – 20:00 Power No
Sunday 10:00 – 19:00 Mobile N/A
Chain No Visits Original: 10th March 2013
Update : 12th March 2014

Liked this? Then check out the rest of New York City’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to New York City.


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