I took a trip up to New York over this past weekend to experience all of its coffee splendor. I should rephrase- I went to Manhattan to experience all of its coffee splendor. As much as I would have liked to have hit the hipster paradise known as Brooklyn, time just did not permit it. Besides, I felt like I was already inundated with the caffeine dens of Manhattan.
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The first stop on my tour was Stumptown's Chelsea location. I'd only had Stumptown's hairbender once before, and it was prepared by a barista-in-training whose idea of good espresso was anything not brewed at Starbucks. I'm not sure that having spite for Starbucks is part of the third-wave experience. Anyway, Stumptown's hairbender, when prepared by the well-qualified baristas at Stumptown's café, is an ethereal experience. It was a balanced shot. It was sooooo balanced, that when that last sip was gone, I didn't taste anything. It was actually very strange. How often does a cup of coffee leave no lingering finish? This isn't to say that it had no flavor while I was downing it. It did. There were all sorts of delicious things going on- nuts (walnuts), a little citrus (lemons), and some sweets (brownies and chocolate cake). I kind of wish the shot had stayed with me.
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By the way, ever seen a big giant 1960s toaster oven that brews espresso? I feel like that's a pretty accurate description of the Kees Van Der Westen machines at Stumptown. They are incredibly elegant, and one will grace my counters at some point (6th or 7th mortgage, maybe?). The well-tattooed English hipster that served me my espresso knew all too well how impressive Stumptown's wares are. One thing that really made me happy about the décor was how it all converged on the brewing station. Every flourish accentuated the fact that this was an espresso establishment; sparse seating, a backdrop of attractive old Italian machinery, a true bar for standing, etc...
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To conclude, Stumptown over on 18 W. 29th Street is probably going to be a mainstay on my trips to NY. My next stop was over at Chelsea Market to experience 9th Street Espresso...