There was a time when great coffee was rather hard to find in Midtown Manhattan, but that’s all changed! Visiting New York City last September, I stayed on 26th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue in Midtown, where there were at least 10 speciality coffee shops within a few blocks. Today’s Coffee Spot, East One Coffee Roasters, was one of several options on my way to the office, its evening opening hours allowing me pop in after work as well.
East One bucks the trend of small Midtown coffee shops, occupying a large spot on the corner of 7th Avenue and 23rd Street, right next to the 23rd St metro station. There’s a row of tables outside on the busy 23rd Street, while inside, multiple seating areas offer a variety of tables, benches and bars. The coffee is roasted at East One’s Court Street coffee shop and eatery in Brooklyn, with a single-origin on espresso and another on batch brew. The options change on a regular basis and there’s a small selection of retail bags of coffee available to buy. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, the brunch menu’s available until 3 o’clock, backed up with a selection of cake throughout the day.
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.
Firecreek Coffee Company was a chance discovery when I visited Flagstaff in February 2018. A roaster/coffee shop, Firecreek has a second location in Sedona, and has since opened a third in Cottonwood, as well as today’s Coffee Spot, it’s first venture in Phoenix. Located inside The Marylin, an iconic building that’s home to various offices, you’ll find Firecreek Arcadia on East Thomas Road, roughly equidistant between downtown Phoenix and Oldtown Scottsdale. While a car is advised (The Marilyn has an extensive parking lot), buses also run along East Thomas so it is, in theory, accessible by public transport.
The coffee shop is a beautiful, irregularly-shaped space, with a wide variety of seating both inside and out. The offering is familiar to anyone who has visited the original Firecreek in Flagstaff, the espresso-based menu catering to both the speciality coffee community, with options like the espresso set, and the more mainstream American coffee-drinker and their beloved 16oz lattes. There’s also batch-brew filter and pour-over made with the Clever Dripper or cafetiere using any of the available beans. Talking of which, all the coffee is currently roasted in Flagstaff, but Firecreek is in the process of opening a dedicated Phoenix roastery/coffee shop.
My first visit to Phoenix, in October 2016, saw the chance discovery of Press Coffee in the Scottsdale Quarter development, a short walk from my hotel at the time. Since then, I’ve been a regular visitor on my frequent returns to the area, often calling in on my way to/from the office. However, that was the old Press Coffee in Scottsdale Quarter: in July 2021, Press Coffee moved to a new, much bigger unit on the other side of the development. Naturally on my return at the start of 2023, I had to check it out.
The old location had a slightly awkward layout, but lots of charm, whereas the new location, a corner spot with windows on either side, has a more regular feel to it. There are two ranks of tables in the middle, with the counter at the back, while the windows and high ceiling lead to a bright, airy space. There’s more seating outside, with tables along the front and down the side. The offering is the familiar Press Coffee one, with two options on espresso, batch-brew filter and pour-over, all roasted in-house, along with limited but very tempting breakfast and lunch menus, backed up with cakes/pastries.
When I last visited Phoenix in January 2020, my first port of call was Mythical Coffee in Gilbert, which had, at that point, been open for just two weeks. It’s therefore fitting that on my return to Phoenix last month after a three-year absence, my first stop was Mythical North, Mythical’ s Scottsdale outpost. Not that Mythical North was entirely new to me, since I’d been a frequent visitor during its previous incarnation as Maverick Coffee. Located in the Paradise Valley Plaza, an old-style outdoor mall in Scottsdale, Mythical is conveniently located just around the corner from my usual hotel, making it a natural place to stop for my morning coffee, particularly on the drive to the office.
The change from Maverick to Mythical occurred in August 2022 and was more merger than takeover, Eric and the team at Mythical buying into the existing business. The changes have also been gradual rather than wholesale, the coffee shop feeling very much as it had been on my previous visits, although the coffee now all comes from Mythical, roasted off-site on a brand-new Loring roaster. The biggest (physical) difference is the expansion into the space next door, very much a work-in-progress.
The final Coffee Spot from last October’s mid-American road trip is, appropriately enough, from our last stop, Chattanooga, before we arrived home that evening in Atlanta. Velo Coffee Roasters was on my original list of places to visit and I’d planned to call in when we stopped in Chattanooga on the drive out. However, we arrived too late, making the chance discovery of Niedlov’s Cafe & Bakery instead. On our return, I was determined not to make the same mistake, reaching Chattanooga with time in hand.
Velo Coffee Roasters is one of Chattanooga’s speciality coffee pioneers, having opened in 2009 before moving to its current location, just down the street from Neidlov’s, in 2015. Both coffee shop and roastery, Velo has a large, sheltered outdoor seating area and a quirky, multi-faceted interior, with the bonus of a barbershop upstairs at the back. Returning to coffee, the Boneshaker blend is offered as default for milk-based drinks, along with a single-origin option, while there are two single-origins on pour-over through the AeroPress, Chemex or Kalita Wave filter, one of which is also available on batch brew. Meanwhile, if you’re hungry, there are freshly-baked cakes and pastries from Chattanooga bakery, Bread & Butter.
Continuing the return leg of my mid-America road trip from October last year brings us to Saint Louis, which marks the mid-point of the journey. We actually called in at Blueprint Coffee on the way back, but since I’ve already written about that, today’s the turn of Sump Coffee, where we stopped on the way out. This is the original Sump Coffee, which also has a second location in Nashville. Occupying a beautiful old building on the corner of Winnebago Street and Jefferson Avenue, there’s a small outdoor terrace at the front, while inside Sump Coffee occupies three long, thin rooms, the last of which houses the 10 kg Diedrich roaster, which produces all the coffee, both for here and for Nashville.
Talking of which, you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to coffee. Like Sump’s Nashville location, there are three single-origins on espresso, with six more on pour-over, plus three cold brew options. Naturally, all the beans are for sale in retail bags, along with a selection of coffee-making equipment and merchandising. Meanwhile, if you don’t fancy coffee, there’s a selection of teas, while if you’re hungry, Sump has a range of cakes and pastries too.
The Coffee Spot gets another year underway by returning to my mid-America road trip from October last year and the first stop on our return leg, Coffea Roasterie and Espresso Bar in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Coffea has three locations, all in Sioux Falls, but this is the flagship, combining coffee shop and roastery in a lovey, multi-faceted space on the city’s west side. There are multiple choices on espresso, batch brew and pour-over, while if you’re hungry, there’s a selection of cakes and pastries, all baked in-house.
Sadly this was very much a flying visit since we had started late that day, had a long way to go and wanted to see the eponymous Sioux Falls (which are well worth the effort, and, if you have time for coffee, Coffea’s downtown espresso bar isn’t that far away). As a result, I wasn’t able to do a full write-up, lacking both the photographs and the extensive notes that I normally take, so instead you’ll have to make do with the year’s first Saturday Snapshot.
Today’s Coffee Spot takes us back to October and the final coffee stop of my American road-trip, when we called into Sioux City, Iowa on our way to Madison, South Dakota. Like the first stop of the trip, Niedlov’s Cafe & Bakery in Chattanooga, Hardline Coffee was a chance find, this time the result of an internet search. A separate business located inside Art SUX Gallery on 4th Street in downtown Sioux City, Hardline acts as the in-house coffee shop, although both it and the gallery are fully open to the public, the gallery offering extensive seating options, including a sheltered outdoor terrace at the front.
While a chance find, I knew that I’d come to the right place as soon as I saw the roaster in the window and the Sanremo Café Racer (my second of the trip) on the counter inside. Hardline roasts its own single-origin Brazilian for use on the Sanremo, while North Carolina’s Black & White Coffee Roasters provides various filter options that are available as either as batch brew or pour-over. There’s a range of seasonal drinks and teas from nearby Artemis Tea, while if you’re hungry, Hardline has the usual selection of cakes and pastries.
The Proper Cup, on Portland’s busy Forest Avenue, has been on my radar ever since it opened in 2018. Located on the west side of the street, it principally serves the local neighbourhood, but is on the route of the No. 2 bus and, if you’re walking around Back Cove along Baxter Boulevard, a small diversion along Dartmouth Street will bring you out opposite The Proper Cup. After being takeaway only for a long time during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Proper Cup had a complete makeover before reopening earlier this year to reveal a bright, uncluttered shop with the counter on the right, window seating at the front, plus tables and a sofa on the left.
The coffee is from New Hampshire’s Flight Coffee Co., with the Liftoff blend and Ground Control decaf on espresso, all the shots pulled on a lovely Slayer espresso machine at the end of the counter. Meanwhile there’s currently a Zanzibar Peaberry from Tanzania on batch brew filter, along with a range of teas, iced coffee and some seasonal house specials. If you’re hungry, a selection of sweet and savoury products from a pair of local bakeries are available in a display case on the counter.