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.
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|
|www.stkildacoffee.com||+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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