St Kilda Coffee, Chelsea

The front of St Kilda Coffee on 8th Avenue, New York City, with the door on the left and a large, square window on the right, various potted plants and hanging baskets clearly visible behind the glass.Today’s Coffee Spot is from last September’s visit to New York City and was another recommendation from my friend and fellow coffee blogger, Bex. St Kilda Coffee was my last stop before heading to Penn Station to catch my train to Atlanta on a very rainy Sunday lunchtime. That said, I visited St Kilda in Chelsea, while Bex had actually recommended St Kilda’s other location, a lovely basement spot around the corner from the Port Authority bus station.

As is often the case in Manhattan, St Kilda is a fairly modest establishment, part of a short row of shops/restaurants on the west side of 8th Avenue near its junction with W 21st Street. Long and thin, the counter is at the back, while the L-shaped seating area runs along the front and down the right-hand wall. The main draw is the coffee, with beans from Brooklyn-based SEY on espresso and filter (both batch brew and pour-over via the Kalita Wave filter), joined by a guest espresso (from Montréal’s Traffic during my visit), with Massachusetts’ Little Wolf on cold brew. A full section of retail beans is available from all three roasters, with if you’re hungry, there’s a selection of cakes/pastries.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • A welcome sight on New York City's 8th Avenue on a rainy Sunday lunchtime.
  • It's St Kilda's Chelsea coffee shop.
  • Let's go in and get out of the rain.
  • The view from inside the door, looking out at the rain.
  • Turning around, this is the view down the length of St Kilda to the counter at the back.
  • There's a set of retail shelves on the left-hand wall, just after the door.
  • And here's the view of the front of St Kilda.
  • The seating starts immediately to the right of the door, where you can sit on the broad...
  • ... window sill, where there are a pair of tables.
  • A bench then runs along the right-hand wall where there are three more tables.
  • The rest of the tables along the right-hand wall.
  • A last look at the tables (and their stools) down the right-hand wall.
  • An accurate description of what's on sale in St Kilda.
  • It's a very green space, by the way, including these hanging baskets in the window.
  • Let's take a closer look at the retail shelves.
  • There's a small selection of brewing equipment and bags of coffee for sale.
  • Each of different roasters has their own section and price list. This is for SEY...
  • ... which is effectively the house roaster for St Kilda.
  • Next is Little Wolf, which provides the beans for the cold brew...
  • ... although there's a wider range of beans for sale. Finally, there's...
  • ... Traffic, which was providing the guest espresso during my visit.
  • You can also buy St Kilda diner mugs.
  • To business. You order at the counter at the back.
  • The cakes are in this glass display case on the right-hand end of the counter.
  • Moving to the left, the till is in the middle, which is where you'll find...
  • ... the menu, along with the choice of beans.
  • Moving along, the La Marzocco Linea espresso machine is at the far end of the counter.
  • Meanwhile, for filter, there's pour-over, plus, at the back of the counter, there's batch brew.
  • I started with a cortado, served in a glass and presented on a bespoke wooden tray...
  • ... along with a glass of sparkling water.
  • I paired this with a banana and walnut muffin...
  • ... and followed it up with a pour-over, again served one of the wooden trays.
  • Before I left, I dropped of this bag of coffee from The Colonel's Son Coffee Roasters.
Webpage Slideshow by v4.6

I’d actually visited St Kilda’s Midtown location, tucked away in a basement on W 44th Street, on the previous day, but that was on my way to the Port Authority building to catch a bus, so it was very much a flying visit. This was a more relaxed affair since I had a couple of hours to kill on a rainy Sunday lunchtime before heading a few blocks north to Penn Station to catch my train to Atlanta. I was there by invitation of Ian, the barista who had served me the day before in Midtown, who suggested that I try the Chelsea location, where he was also working the following day.

St Kilda is on 8th Avenue, on the western side, one door down from the corner with W 21st Street, sandwiched between a pizza store and a grocery/deli. The modest storefront has a square, two-pane window on the right and a recessed glass door on the left. The interior is equally modest, with a bare, concrete floor and plain, white walls/ceiling, matched by a concrete counter and light, wooden furniture and shelving. However, what could be a rather austere, unwelcoming interior is more than offset by a riot of green, with multiple plants either standing in pots or in hanging baskets, while ivy trails around the walls just below the ceiling.

The seating starts immediately to the right of the door, where the broad window sill (the depth of the recessed door) doubles as a bench seat, although you have to share it with three large potted plants. There’s a small, square table here, with another in the front, right-hand corner. The seating continues along the right-hand wall, where three more tables run along a bench, each table having its stool.

The last of the tables is about halfway back, leaving the rear half of the store open for the counter, a simple affair which runs the width of St Kilda with a hatch for access on the left. The space between the door and the counter is open on the left-hand side, which takes you past a set of retail shelves, where the coffee is grouped by roaster, while the whole back third of the store, in front of the counter, is similarly left open, so anyone waiting for coffee isn’t crowding the people at the tables.

Turning to the coffee, St Kilda uses Brooklyn-based SEY on espresso, while the Chelsea location (but not Midtown) also has a guest espresso, which was from Montréal’s Traffic when I was there. I had had a flat white the day before at the Midtown location, made with the Ozolotepec, a Mexican coffee roasted by SEY. I enjoyed it, but had very much inhaled it on the way to catch my bus.

This time around, I decided to try the same coffee in a cortado. Having more time to savour it, I found that the fruity notes of the coffee came through much more clearly, combining with the milk for a very fine drink. I also tried the Kiawamurury, a Kenyan coffee, again from SEY, as a pour-over, served in a carafe with the cup on the side (the batch brew filter is served in the same way). This turned out to be a subtle, well-rounded coffee, which was a nice way to end my time in New York City.

Before I left, I dropped off a Honduran single-origin which I’d bought just before the start of my trip at The Colonel’s Son Coffee Roasters in Shrewsbury, leaving it as a gift for Ian the barista.

213 8TH AVENUE • NEW YORK CITY • NY 10011 • USA +1 646 756 4660
Monday 07:00 – 17:00 Roaster SEY + Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 17:00 Seating Tables
Wednesday 07:00 – 17:00 Food Cake
Thursday 07:00 – 17:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 17:00 Payment Cards + Cash
Saturday 08:00 – 17:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 08:00 – 17:00 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 2nd October 2022

If you enjoyed this Coffee Spot, then take a look at the rest of New York City’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to New York City.

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1 thought on “St Kilda Coffee, Chelsea

  1. Pingback: The Colonel’s Son Coffee Roasters | Brian's Coffee Spot

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