Sunday, May 21, 2006

More On NYC Coffee

I originally wrote this right after my New York trip but am only getting to post it now. Enjoy.

Did any of you see the comments from my New York Joe entry?

"You gotta check out Ninth Street..."

Good Lord, I'm trying. I'm just one man in a sea of bodies. Sheesh!

Rest assured, I did make the journey to Ninth Street Espresso right after my visit to Joe The Art of Coffee, with a pit-stop on the way there in Gray's Papaya for a breakfast sandwich. Ah, just like old times.

Actually, I attempted to visit Ninth Street the day before while I was buying shoes at 99X that New York Institution that sells everything for the properly dressed Skinhead: Doc Martens, Fred Perry and thin braces. I was just there to pick up some new Docs before making the attempt at Ninth Street.

The only thing I knew was that NSE in on Ninth Street and, guessing by the name of their ABC Blend, somewhere in Alphabet City which meant it was east of 2nd Avenue. So I walked and walked and walked - all the way to Tompkins Square Park. Getting a bit frustrated, I called them. "Where are you?," I asked. "Ninth between C and D," was the reply.

C and D???


It was already 5pm and I had to be at's offices in Times Square by 6pm.

That's when I abandoned my quest for Ninth Street. Good thing too because the heavens opened and a monsoon started falling on the city.

But back to the next morning and Gray's Papaya...

I'm on Sixth Avenue and hailing a cab. After a morning of Americano, espresso and cinnamon roll at Joe, I need something a bit more substantial, so I had the breakfast sandwich, sans 25 cent coffee, for $1.50. Grilled sausage patty with fresh eggs, American cheese on a sesame roll, nice! Plain and simple. Hailed a cab and was zipping on my way across Greenwich Village with a turban-ated cabbie.

Now that I've been in the coffee game for a little while and have been rather outspoken about things within the Barista Guild, SCAA, USBC, online forums and the Podcast, it seems that I've gained a little notoriety. I'm the kind of person who, when visiting another coffee shop, likes to just sit back and try to remain anonymous. I was able to do that at Joe and was hoping to do the same at Ninth Street.

That wasn't going to happen.

I hate to say it, but as soon as I walked in the door, I was pegged by the barista. Bob had seen me in Charlotte at the USBC and introduced himself right away. Great guy and I ended up chatting with him and Edmund, his co-barista, the rest of the morning.

Ninth Street Espresso is a cool little shop in a tree-lined neighborhood in Alphabet City. It's probably the same floor size as Jay's Shave Ice - a comfortable space with tables and chairs, a sit-down bar and no couches. I like the approach. I would have blogged from Ninth Street but they don't have Wi-Fi.

I started off with an Americano while Bob and I chatted next to their 2group Synesso Cyncra. After two stops, the Cyncra's looking to be the "it" machine of New York City. It was almost 10am and business was steady. A girl named Rachel stopped in for her morning vanilla latte and we razzed on her a bit. Cool girl, great attitude and she was trying to figure out if she was going to work that day as a media engineer.

After awhile, owner Ken Nye stopped in on his way to an appointment. This was the first time I met Ken and I'm glad to have met him. Ken's a great guy who's passionate and committed to quality coffee and espresso. He's got a level of intensity and passion that makes it refreshing to be in this business again - especially after listening to other owners babble on and on about how "great'" their coffee is when all I see is hot gas being passed. Ken really knows his business and it was great meeting him.

But some of you probably want to know about the espresso. In a couple of words, it's fuckin' fantastic. Easily one of the best espressos I've ever tasted. Lively, floral, sweet and minor chocolate notes. Chewy. Tasty. Fucking Good. I literally was chewing on this bitch. Yum.

I rank it Number Two to Hines.