Darren on The Roof at The Public Hotel, East Village, New York
Last Thursday (10th October) I took a ‘busman’s holiday’. Destination: The New York Coffee Festival.
I wanted to see what the coffee scene was like ‘on the other side of the pond’. Would it just be a mirror reflection of the UK coffee scene, would the US be forging ahead or, lagging behind?
Arriving late afternoon on the Thursday, I checked into my apartment in Brooklyn before heading out to a local speakeasy. A few beers and a good night’s sleep made me crave a bagel and a coffee. A whole-wheat bagel with scallion, bacon, cream cheese and a few slurps of an okay, filter coffee set me up for the day so, I headed into Manhattan.
New York Coffee Festival at The Metropolis Pavilion - Midtown Manhattan
At The Festival
The festival took place over 4 floors of the Metropolis Pavilion in mid-town Manhattan. I meandered my way there via the leafy streets of Greenwich village, noting along the way a few bars and shops I might check out later. 😊
I visited on the Festival on trade-day. It’s the better day if you want to have a conversation with a vendor (and be heard) but, in recent years even the industry only days in London have required you to get your elbows out. Refreshingly, inside New York’s Metropolis Pavilion you could actually move, hear and be heard.
Minimalist white walls, extensive break-out areas, mood-lighting and live music played host to select U.S. based roasters, coffee importers, competition and education zones.
Above all else, it was the buzz around milk alternatives that stole the show. The words ‘dairy free’ seemed to be on every other persons lips and Generation Z wandered around wearing t-shirts claiming they were from the ‘post-milk generation’. Dairy free ice cream made with Oatly was thrust into the hands of anyone who showed even the slightest tendency to wilt and I must say that the strawberry one was very nice indeed!
Single Origin Chocolate Bars Galore!
Also, noteworthy, was a whole floor dedicated to so-called ‘bean-to-bar’ chocolate. Dark, high in cocoa but annoyingly thin, these bars are not the type that you binge on a rainy afternoon, rather a tasting experience that will appeal strongly to lovers of single origin coffee.
My personal favourite was Tanaznia Kokoa Kamili (72% cocoa) from Swedish producer, Svenska Kakaobolaget. Naturally fruity notes of plums, cherries, raisins and apples.
On another floor, two stand-out gadgets caught my eye:
Ember, the temperature controlled travel mug. Stand it on its dedicated coaster and this ceramic mug will maintain your drink at the chosen temperature. So, if you like your filter coffee at 92°C, then you can have it that way to the very last drop! For your convenience, the cup connects via Bluetooth to your phone. Get yours here.
The ultimate in coffee storage?
Remember when it was enough to store your coffee beans in an air-tight container? Well now, US company, Coffee Freshness is telling us to suck out all the air and replace it with CO2! Their system uses a specially adapted coffee caddy, which allows the residual air to be replaced with CO2 at the touch of a button. They prefer the term ‘preserving’ as opposed to storing coffee. If you have a few hundred dollars to spend or the why not head here and grab yours.
After the Festival
Next day, on a sunny afternoon, I headed to the trendy East Village where I noticed distinctive green Matcha lattes being enjoyed by twenty-somethings perched at street-side tables. However, I needed coffee. Armed with my New York Coffee Guide, I sought out the area’s best independent coffee shops:
Sitting outside a cafe in New York's East Village
When I asked for a Flat White in Arabço they did not appear to understand this concept and offered a piccolo latte. I gladly accepted this and very nice it was too. At Everyman Espresso I again asked for a Flat White. Strange look. How about a Cortado? Okay!
Finally, upon returning to JFK Airport I spotted a Flat White listed on the menu at Flat Iron Coffee Roasters. It wasn’t the most well-made coffee I had, although the blueberry muffin was good.
My thoughts on the coffee scene in New York? Well, it’s expensive. I paid $6.43 for my Cortado (including tax and $1 tip). Do they make coffee any better? No. There’s a good choice of blends and single origin micro-lot coffees as you would expect from the speciality coffee scene. However, watch out coffee, the profile of alternative beverages is on the rise and fully embraced by the next generation.
Celebrate Darren's return from New York City with 10% off purchases in our online store. Coupon Code: NYCTRIP (valid until midnight, Sunday. 31st October 2019).
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