Stumptown is, in US coffee circles (and beyond), something of a legend, both as a roaster and as the owner of some iconic coffee shops. On this year’s US trip, I thought it was high time I paid a visit. With branches in its home town of Portland (Oregon, not Maine), Seattle and Los Angeles on the West Coast, but just New York City on the east, the logical choice was NYC.
I made a beeline for Stumptown’s second NYC location on West 8th Street, just north of Washington Square in Greenwich Village. Open since May 2013, it possesses quite possibly the most handsome interior of any coffee shop I’ve ever seen (although Intelligentsia in the lobby of the High Line Hotel gives it a run for its money). It consists of two connected spaces: a lavishly fitted-out espresso bar on the corner of West 8th and MacDougal Streets and a smaller, more intimate brew bar, with its own door onto MacDougal Street.
The coffee, as one might expect, is all from Stumptown, with a quite bewildering array of eleven single-origin beans available, along with three blends and two decaf options (one blend and one single-origin). As far as I could tell, all can be had through any of six filter methods, as espresso or cold brew.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
I’d actually visited Stumptown’s original NYC location in the lobby of the Ace Hotel on West 29th Street on my previous trip in 2013, where I’d met Greg Cohen (aka CoffeGuru App) for the first time. However, that was a fleeting visit: I’d just arrived, Greg was just leaving and I had no time for a proper write-up.
Although a return to the Ace was tempting, Greenwich Village was more convenient, plus I’d heard great things about the new store. However, my first impressions, approaching along MacDougal Street, were underwhelming. Stumptown appeared to be just a modest coffee shop similar in size/layout to the likes of Soho’s Everyman Espresso and not the lavish beast I’d been expecting. It was only when I reached the corner of West 8th Street that I realised my mistake. I’d been looking through the door of the brew bar!
The main entrance, on the corner, was much more impressive. Stepping inside, things improved further. Almost the entire left-hand side of the espresso bar, from the windows down, is given over to a magnificent counter, complete with marble worktop and bespoke wooden fittings behind. It houses a pair of lovely three-group La Marzocco Stradas, a display case for the cakes and a couple of spots where you can perch and watch the baristas at work. Right at the far end is another little bar, where I spent most of my stay.
The space by the doors is given over to those waiting for takeaway coffee, while the right-hand side has a row of more-or-less communal tables (it was so busy during my visit that everyone had to share). At the far end is a six-person table with high chairs and, beyond that, two bookshelves with beans and coffee-making equipment (all for sale). The walls are plain brick, the floor a glorious herring-bone parquet, edged by tiles, and the only thing which I felt let it down slightly was the ceiling, magnificently high at the front, but rather low at the back.
In contrast, the brew bar, accessed by a rather anonymous corridor beyond the counter, or through its own door on MacDougal Street, is a much less grand, more homely affair (it also only opens from 09:00 – 17:00). Approached from the street, there’s a small takeaway station to your right, then comes the wooden-topped counter, taking up the rest of the right-hand side. To your left is a stand-up bar and, at the far end, off to the left, is the corridor to the espresso bar. If I sound dismissive of the brew bar, I don’t mean to be. I really liked it, with its bare-brick walls and much nicer ceiling. It also has a dinky one-group La Marzocco for espresso-lovers who don’t want to be inconvenienced by a 20-second walk.
So, what about the coffee? Well, I’m sad to say I’ve nothing to report. I ordered a Bolivia Buenavista through the Bee House pour-over filter (a first for me) but I was rather ill that day, having eaten something from Philadelphia’s station forecourt which disagreed with me. I managed two sips before being overcome by nausea, forcing me to retire to the bar at the end of the counter where I cursed my luck until I felt well enough to venture back to my hotel.
|30 WEST 8th STREET • NEW YORK • NY 10011 • USA|
|Monday||07:00 – 20:00||Seating||Tables, Bar in Brew Bar|
|Tuesday||07:00 – 20:00||Food||Cake|
|Wednesday||07:00 – 20:00||Service||Counter|
|Thursday||07:00 – 20:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Friday||07:00 – 20:00||Wifi||Free|
|Saturday||07:00 – 20:00||Power||No|
|Sunday||07:00 – 20:00||Mobile||N/A|
|Chain||Yes||Visits||13th March 2014|
If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, 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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