Marathon Coffee, Chelsea

Details from the mural above the take away station in Marathon Coffee on 6th Avenue, local artist. Hannah Benson (@hanbenz_art) showing people drinking coffee on the street.Today’s Saturday Short is unusual on three levels. Firstly, it’s a New York City coffee shop which isn’t a coffee shop/roaster. What’s more, it’s using an out-of-state roaster, Providence’s Bolt Coffee, rather than one of the usual suspects from Brooklyn. Thirdly and finally, it has the rare distinction (for this trip) of being somewhere I found myself rather than a recommendation from Bex of Double Skinny Macchiato.

Marathon Coffee is a fairly new chain of three coffee shops and, for once, I visited the original, which is on 6th Avenue, half a block from my hotel and on my way to the office, which is how I discovered it, popping in for a flat white on my last day. “Popping in” is the correct term by the way, since Marathon is small, with just the counter and no seating.

Bolt Coffee’s Seven Hills blend is on espresso, while there are two bespoke house blends (also roasted by Bolt) on batch brew, along with a range of seasonal specials and hot teas. Marathon has breakfast tacos from Uptaco (available until they’re all gone) along with a selection of cakes and pastries. Since it’s takeaway only, don’t forget to bring your own cup.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Marathon Coffee, as seen when heading north along 6th Avenue.
  • And here's the equivalent view heading south.
  • The view straight on, looking down the street.
  • There's a neat A-board...
  • ... as well as a sign hanging high above the door.
  • You'll also see this outside in the mornings. It comes back inside when the tacos sell out.
  • Talking of inside, this is the view that greets you, with the counter at the back on the left.
  • This leaves space for this takeaway station, built into the nook in the right-hand wall.
  • Carrying on around, this is where we came in...
  • ... with the plant in the window to the left of the door offering some welcome greenery.
  • The left-hand wall has artwork (top), the menu board (middle) and retail shelf (bottom).
  • This view of the counter gives you an idea of the height of the ceiling in Marathon.
  • A well-used door mat greets you as you enter.
  • The menu board and retail shelf on the left-hand wall.
  • There are bags of the bespoke Marathon Coffee filter blends on the left...
  • ... while on the right is the Seven Hills espresso blend, everything roasted by Bolt Coffee.
  • Opposite this is the takeaway station...
  • ... where you'll also find the house specialties and the seasonal menu.
  • To business. You order at the counter at the back. It was late in the day...
  • ... when I was taking pictures, so the cakes were depleted (the tacos were long gone).
  • However, if you make it in the morning, these are your options.
  • As well as the menu board to the left, there are two menu boards behind the counter...
  • ... one for coffee...
  • ... and one for tea/extras.
  • Talking of tea, the full selection is on the board to your right.
  • The coffee itself is behind the counter, against the back wall. There's the batch brew...
  • ... with its grinder on the left, while the espresso machine is on the right, although...
  • ... its grinder is on the front of the counter, also on the right.
  • Let's put the espresso machine, a Faema E71, through its paces.
  • The digital read out shows you the time and the progress of the shot.
  • ... while you can watch the espresso extracting down below...
  • ... which is one of my favourite things to do.
  • I visited twice, first for a flat white in my HuskeeCup, before returning the following day...
  • ... to try the espresso in my Kaffeeform cup, which is where I'll leave you.
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I walked past Marathon Coffee, which is on 6th Avenue, just down from its junction with 26th Street, on my first day, making a mental note that it looked promising. However, such are the riches of Midtown’s speciality coffee scene that it wasn’t until I was on my way to the office one last time that I checked it out.

I knew nothing about Marathon, but seeing Bolt Coffee on the shelves reassured me. I have fond memories of Bolt’s coffee bar in the Dean Hotel in Providence, so it was nice to see Bolt in New York City. It was very much a grab-and-go visit that morning, but I made a longer stop the following day, which is when I learnt that Marathon had opened on 6th Avenue in 2020, adding a second shop on the Upper East Side in 2021 and a third over on 1st Avenue, which opened this week.

Marathon is on the west side of 6th Avenue, presenting a modest, all-glass front with a recessed central door. Inside, it occupies a generous space, with the counter at the back, slightly offset to the left, leaving space on the right for a takeaway station, built into a recess in the wall. Meanwhile, on the left, the wall is home to a large menu board with a single retail shelf below. This holds bags of the two house-blends (Marathon Coffee 1, a mix of Honduran and Ethiopian beans, and Marathon Coffee 2, a Guatemalan/Honduran blend) along with Bolt’s Seven Hills espresso blend. Bolt is a recent addition, by the way, Marathon having made the switch in April this year.

The counter is all business, a display case for the cakes/pastries and tacos in the middle, a fridge for cold drinks on the left and the tea menu on the right. Additional menu boards are on the wall above/behind the counter, while the coffee itself is on the back wall, with the batch brew on the left and espresso on the right, the Faema E71 espresso machine tucked away in the corner.

I had the Seven Hills on both my visits, first as a flat white in my HuskeeCup, then as an espresso in my Kaffeeform cup. It’s a classic, all-round blend, combining very well with the milk in my flat white to produce a rich, sweet drink with chocolately notes. Meanwhile, it did just as well on its own, displaying the same well-rounded nature. I would have liked a third visit to try the bespoke filter blends, but, alas, time was against me.

769 6th AVENUE • NEW YORK CITY • NY 10001 • USA
www.marathon.coffee
Monday 07:00 – 17:00 Roaster Bolt Coffee (espresso + batch brew)
Tuesday 07:00 – 17:00 Seating No
Wednesday 07:00 – 17:00 Food Tacos, Cakes
Thursday 07:00 – 17:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 07:30 – 16:30 Wifi No
Sunday 07:30 – 16:30 Power No
Chain Local Visits 29th, 30th September 2022

Liked this? Then don’t forget to check out the Coffee Spot Guide to New York City for more great Coffee Spots.


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