Devoción, Flatiron District

A flat white in my HuskeeCup, made with the Honey blend at Devoción in the Flat Iron District.Welcome to a new, occasional feature for the Coffee Spot, the Saturday Snapshot, Coffee Spots that, for one reason or another, I’m unable to do a full write-up on. The inaugural Saturday Snapshot features Devoción, one of many places from my recent trip to New York City. Devoción is a coffee shop/roaster chain that works directly with farmers in Colombia, where it owns a coffee mill. There are four coffee shops, three in Brooklyn and the subject of today’s Saturday Snapshot, on E 20th Street in the Flat Iron District.

Devoción has two options on espresso, plus decaf, batch brew filter and, from memory, two options on pour-over through the Kalita Wave filter. A beautiful space, with plenty of seating, it was consistently full and busy the three times that I visited, which is why I wasn’t able to do a full write up or get very many pictures.

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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.

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Patent Coffee

The glass double doors at the entrance to Patent Coffee in the Radio Wave Building in New York City. The left one is open, beoynd which are broad stone steps descending to basement, with the counter of Patent Coffee visible at the back.In what will be a common refrain in my write-ups from this visit to New York City, today’s Coffee Spot was recommended by my friend Bex of Double Skinny Macchiato. Traditionally, I’ve stayed in Chinatown when visiting New York or commuted into the Port Authority Building on W 42nd Street. This time, it was a work trip, so I stayed in Midtown, one of Bex’ regular haunts, hence all the recommendations.

Patent Coffee, a neat little basement coffee shop in the Radio Wave Building, was just 1½ blocks from my hotel. There’s not a huge amount to it, just a simple counter at the back, along with a small, L-shaped bar at the front, which provides the only internal seating. There is, however, in the modern, COVID-19 way of things, an outside terrace on the street, alongside the pavement, which provides plenty more seating.

Not that lack of size limits Patent’s ambition, with a standard espresso-based menu joined by a single-origin on batch-brew and two more on pour-over through the Kalita Wave. There’s also a selection of seasonal drinks and, if you’re hungry, cake and pastries. Note that Patent only has disposable cups, so don’t forget to bring your own.

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An Homage to New York City’s Lost Coffee Shops

The Empire State Building in New York City, seen at dusk looking south from the top of the Rockefeller Center As I was wandering around New York City on my most recent trip, I strolled along W 20th Street in Chelsea, one time home to an old favourite, Café Grumpy, which I’d been particularly looking forward to re-visiting. On seeing the gutted interior of the now closed shop, I got to thinking about some of my other favourite NYC coffee shops which had closed over the years.

To my surprise, this turned out to be a rather long list, which led me to make this post, an homage to New York City’s lost coffee shops. Some of these were victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, while others fell foul of landlords who didn’t want to renew the lease. One is even a success story, with Café Integral closing its original location inside a clothing store to open its own coffee shop a couple of blocks away.

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Café Grumpy, Greenpoint

The famous Café Grumpy logo on a background of wood with multiple coffee stains, taken from above the counter in the first Café Grumpy in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.I first came across Café Grumpy in 2015, the Aussie-owned coffee shop/roaster chain firmly establishing itself as one of my New York City favourites. In particular, its Lower East Side and Fashion District locations become regular stops on my various visits. Since I’m staying in Chelsea this time around, I was looking forward to returning to Café Grumpy on W 20th Street, where I had my first Café Grumpy experience. My only problem is that it recently closed, forced out by a new landlord who wouldn’t renew the lease.

Deprived of my local Café Grumpy fix, I headed across the East River to Greenpoint in Brooklyn, seeking out the original Café Grumpy on Meserole Avenue. Home to Café Grumpy since 2005, the roastery is half a block away down Diamond Street. From the outside, it looks small, tucked in on the corner, but inside it goes a long way back, making it the most spacious of the Café Grumpys (now up to 10 in New York City, with one in New Jersey and another in Miami). There’s the usual offering, with the Heartbreaker blend, a single-origin and decaf on espresso, plus batch-brew, a range of tea and a selection of cakes and pastries.

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Brian’s Travel Spot: The Adirondack from New York to Montréal

The view from the final carriage of Amtrak's Adirondack service on its way from New York City to Montréal in March 2013, looking back over the single track as it passes through woods north of Albany.Welcome to the second instalment of what is a first for the Travel Spot, a series of three posts covering the first trip I took after starting the Coffee Spot (long before I had the idea of the Travel Spot). It takes us back to late February/early March 2013, when I spent a few days in Boston, before taking various day trips around New England with some friends. From there, I caught the train down to New York for the weekend, all of which is covered in the first instalment on this series.

This post covers my journey on the Adirondack, one of Amtrak’s famous long-distance trains. The Adirondack runs once a day, departing New York City in the morning, before running up the Hudson River valley, through upstate New York and across the Canadian border to Montréal, arriving there 10 hours later.

It was just the second time I’d been to Canada, the first being in 2005 when I was all the way on the other side of the continent visiting Vancouver. This, therefore, was all new to me, as was my time in Montréal, which is covered in the third and final post in this series.

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Brian’s Travel Spot: New England & New York

Our hire car, aka "The Tank", which friends of mine hired for the second part of my stay.These posts are, in more ways than one, a first for the Travel Spot. They cover the first trip I made after starting the Coffee Spot (and long before I had the idea of the Travel Spot). Unsurprisingly, while I visited plenty of coffee shops, I didn’t make any notes about the trip itself, so they’re a combination of memories, sparked when I stumbled across my photos from the time.

This post, the first of three, covers the initial part of the trip, which began in late February 2013 when I flew to Boston. I spent a few days in the city before taking various day trips around New England with some friends. Finally, I caught the train down to New York City, where I also spent a few days.

From New York City, I boarded Amtrak’s Adirondack service, which is covered in the next post in this series. This took me through upstate New York and across the Canadian border to my final destination, Montréal, which is covered in the third and final post.

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Brian’s Travel Spot: Portland to Atlanta by Car & Train

Locomotive 608, hauling Amtrak Train 19, The Crescent, from New York Penn Station to Washington DC Union Station before it is switched out for two diesel locomotives which take the train on to New Orleans.Welcome to the second instalment of this, the second Travel Spot of 2020. The first part covered my journey to Boston, flying in economy with British Airways, before catching the coach up to Portland, where I spent the next two weeks with Amanda. This instalment involves our journey down to Atlanta to see Amanda’s mother, while the remaining posts in the series cover my onward journey to Chicago and my return home from there.

Amanda and I had plenty of options to get from Portland (Maine) to Atlanta, the most obvious one being to fly. However, neither of us is a great fan of flying internally in the US, and, since we had time, we decided to look at other options. One alternative was driving, something Amanda’s done before, although it’s a one-way trip of 1,200 miles, which amounts to about 19 hours behind the wheel, so I ruled it out.

That left the train, a mode of transport which we both enjoy. It wasn’t the cheapest, nor was it the quickest, but it definitely sounded the most enjoyable, so we booked tickets on Amtrak’s Train 19, Crescent, from New York to Atlanta, building our trip around that.

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Trying Eugenioides at Terremoto

The rare the Eugenioides coffee species in a cortado at Terromoto Coffee in Chelsea, New York City.In the wild, coffee has over 120 individual species. However, two species dominate commercially grown coffee: Arabica and Robusta, with Arabica accounting for the vast majority of speciality coffee. Other species are occasionally commercially grown, and last weekend at Terremoto Coffee in New York, Amanda and I were presented with Coffea eugenioides, a rare species indigenous to the East African highlands, including Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and western Tanzania.

Coffea eugenioides (Eugenioides for short) is, in fact, one of Arabica’s two parent species, the other being Robusta. The Eugenioides at Terremoto was roasted by Neat, a roaster/importer in Darien, Connecticut, and comes from a farm, Las Nubes, in Colombia. Naturally, we had to try it, ending up with a pour-over, an espresso and, to try it in milk, a cortado. Our barista also provided us with a shot of the house espresso (a washed Colombian) and a batch brew sample (a washed Honduran) for comparison!

Normally, I’d write this up as part of my description of the coffee shop, but since Eugenioides is so different from anything that I’ve tried before, I’ve dedicated this entire Saturday Supplement to it, with Terremoto featuring in its own Coffee Spot.

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Terremoto Coffee

The Terremoto Coffee logo, taken from the A-board outside the coffee shop on W 15th Street in New York.I’m indebted to Bex of Double Skinny Macchiato (and her excellent New York Speciality Coffee Map) for the heads-up on today’s Coffee Spot, Terremoto Coffee. Amanda and I were in New York City for less than 24 hours, en-route from Portland (Maine) to Atlanta. Other than quick stops at Café Grumpy in both the Fashion District and Chelsea, we only had time for one prolonged stop, which was at Terremoto.

There’s not much to Terremoto, just a bench outside and three small tables inside, but size is no limit to its ambition when it comes to coffee. Its most eye-catching feature is the gold Slayer espresso machine, but the real star is the coffee itself. Terremoto serves a wide selection of single-origins on both espresso and pour-over (Kalita Wave), one of which is also available on batch brew, plus there’s a small selection of cakes and pastries if you are hungry.

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