On the ground floor of NYC's Ace Hotel at 29th in between Broadway & 5th is a small, standing-room only coffee bar. It goes by the name of Stumptown.
The knock on Stumptown has long been that it's a great espresso bar...that serves mediocre brewed coffee. On many occasions this semi-snide remark has been borne out by my own experience.
It was about 9:30am and the line was out the door and into the lobby. Probably about 7-8 folks in front of me, an 8-10 minute wait. Not terrible for a NYC landmark.
I was tempted to order a fresh Chemex ($5.25) but I noticed that they had just finished brewing four fresh French Press pots, so I went with a mug of that, of presumably their House Blend. They use a basic technique: add grounds, add a bit of water to degas, swirl, then fill 'er to the top straight from the water tower.
I also ordered a shot of Hair Bender and a cappucino. The shot was perfect -- clearly structured and delicious. In milk, it lingered in the most pleasant way.
The filter coffee, however, was rank. Some New Yorkers actually prefer "bad coffee," gulping it down with grim pride. I'm talking about the sort of thing you can get at any corner bodega...$1 and at least highly caffeinated. You can get your fill of that here, if my mug was in any way exemplary. It was thin and astringent and $2.50.
So again Stumptown lived up to its reputation. The good and the bad.