As the weather gets cooler, a warm cup of joe in the morning becomes even more delightful. Luckily, us Greenpointers have plenty of choices when it comes to quality coffee. I stopped by ten neighborhood spots recently and spoke to patrons, baristas, and even a few coffee-obsessed (and surprisingly well spoken) pups about why they like their favorite coffee shops!
Grumpy by name, awesome by nature, Café Grumpy has been one of Greenpoint’s most beloved coffee shops for almost a decade and now, with the addition of a new roastery, there’s even more to love.
Founded on the corner of Meserole Avenue and Diamond Street in 2005, Grumpy has since spread to five other locations including their most recent opening at Grand Central Station, where they triumphantly replaced a Starbucks. The cafe also brushed with fame during its starring role in HBO’s Girls.
In 2009 Grumpy started roasting their own beans in the back room of the Greenpoint cafe, but this year’s increased production demands led them to seek out a larger roasting space. Fortunately an ex-floristry warehouse just a few buildings down became available and their coffee-roasting palace was born. I met up with head bean buyer and ‘coffee educator’ Cheryl Kingan who gave me a grand tour of the roastery and the low down on the entire process of bean to brew. Continue reading
Walking along Manhattan Ave or Franklin St on any given weekend morning is prime time for Walk of Shame patrol. (Don’t judge – we’ve all been there.) Cup on Norman has a special drink that won’t put you in your Saturday morning sweatpants, but it may alleviate the pain of your less than proud walk home. Continue reading
During the holidays, time is on fast forward and we need our caffeine fix without a lot of waiting around. Here are some of the best coffee shops in Greenpoint for when we are on the go. That being said, I don’t care what kind of a rush you are in, never order you espresso in a to-go paper cup (the blasphemy!) and don’t forget to tip your barista.
• Variety (145 Driggs Ave)
Excellent brew and my favorite cappuccino in the hood, the space was designed just for a coffee line. These efficient baristas magically fill orders so the wait is never long.
• Champion (1108 Manhattan Ave)
If you live this far up Manhattan, you will need a warm coffee to help you speed walk to the train. Champion has some of the best espressos in Greenpoint and some of the most on point baristas who will get you on your way without a lot of fuss.
• Cup on Norman (79 Norman Ave)
Located steps from the G on Norman Ave, Cup, which has the best espresso in Greenpoint also has some of the quickest and friendliest service so you’ll be out the door in minutes.
• Cookie Road (94 Franklin St)
Another café just large enough to grab your coffee order and a slice of frittata or a cheddar biscuit.
• Five Leaves (18 Bedford Ave)
You don’t even have to waste time going inside, Five Leaves’ coffee window serves strong brews right out of their window on Bedford Ave.
• Upright (860 Manhattan Ave)
If you catch the G at Greenpoint, check out Upright, rated the second best espresso in Greenpoint on our tour, they also have fun latte flavors and offer almond milk for anti-soy vegans.
Sometimes you gotta be where you don’t want to be and you need an oasis (of espresso) to quell your fears and anxiety. I work in Midtown and the only comfort I have from the bustle of suits is a swedish espresso bar called Fika, tucked on 58th St, between 5th & 6th. When you walk in, all the insanity stays outside. Plus, their chocolate balls are to die for.
I feel the same “get me the hell out of here!” when I walk to the L train at Bedford & North 7th. There are too many, too skinny people buzzing around and my jeans feel tight but not small enough at the same time. Have no fear; Kinditori is here! And, it’s a Swedish espresso bar, too.
The subterranean nook’s low ceilings is a cave of espresso heaven. The barista is always nice and the espressos are short and tasty. Their croissants are delicious to boot. Next time you are about to have a panic attack on Bedford, slip into Konditori, and leave it all behind.
167 No. 7th St
I am always on the hunt for a great espresso. There is a little coffee shop, in the middle of nowhere, on Woodpoint Rd. in the 11211 called Tar Pit Café. Their motto is “Espresso, Pastry, Love.” I can get behind that. What I found when I strolled over was a pleasant teeny coffee shop with a friendly barista name Ginny, who served me the shortest espresso (in a great way) that was perfect and made with Kitten Coffee, which comes from Bed-Stuy.
The technique for their short espresso pulling is called ristretto, which should be the standard for which every espresso is pulled, much in the same way all steaks should be rare and all eggs should be runny. They would have made a great contender in the Greenpointers Espresso Tour.
Tar Pit Café
135A Woodpoint Rd.
An excellent espresso is a cafe’s best business card. On Sunday October 2, 2011, Rebecca from I love Greenpoint, Mike & Charlie from Brooklynauts and I tasted a total of 19 espressos from every cafe* in Greenpoint in order to determine the champion of the Greenpointers 2011 Espresso Tour. The density of outstanding espressos in this neighborhood was impressive and made the tour difficult to judge, but we have a winner!
Each cafe was notified and generously donated 3 espressos. We judged using the following score sheet adapted from the World Barista Championship:
TASTE EVALUATION OF ESPRESSO:
• COLOR OF CREMA (hazelnut, dark brown, reddish reflection) 0/10 ___
• CONSISTENCY & PERSISTENCE OF CREMA* 0/10 ___
• TASTE BALANCE (harmonious balance of sweet/acidic/bitter) 0/10 ___
• TACTILE BALANCE (full bodied, round, smooth) 0/10 ___
• TEMPERATURE** (hot but not too hot to drink) 0/10 ___
• CORRECT ESPRESSO CUPS USED (60-90mL w/handle) YES/NO
• SERVED WITH ACCESSORIES (spoon, napkin & water) YES/NO
After judges’ individual scores were added, the highest possible score was 156. Results ranged between 97-142. (Only the top 3 scores are revealed.)
*We were unable to contact Ashbox and the cafe was closed on Sunday.
2011 GREENPOINTERS ESPRESSO TOUR RESULTS
*** 1st Place: Cup on Norman ***
Top Score: 142
2nd Place: Upright ( Score: 139)
Best on Franklin St: Veronica People’s Club
Best on Manhattan Ave: Upright
Best near McGolrick Park: Variety
Best Overall Experience: Veronica People’s Club
Best Coffee Bar: Troost
Best Presentation: Le Gamin & Cafecito Bogota
Hottest Barista: Janna at Van Leeuwen
Best Team: Cookie Road
Most Unassuming: Garden Spot Cafe
Most Charming: Milk & Roses
Best Value: Royal & VPC ($2)
Congratulations to CUP, the 2011 Greenpointers Espresso Tour Champion!
THE WHOLE STORY: Continue reading