If you’re in a hurry and happen to be walking down Bleecker Street, steer clear of Porto Rico Importing Co. The rich smell of millions of coffee beans wafting through the air is enough to distract those of with stuffy noses from colds. Porto Rico is one of the most successful independent coffee-sellers in the city, having a five retail locations across New York. The original Greenwich Village location has remained unchanged since 1907; the creaky wooden floors look like they’ve been peeled off a dusty attic. This charming shop has been in Peter Longo’s family for three generations, with the sole focus of providing quality coffee beans and teas from around the world.
Since the focus is on retail, do not expect a cafe vibe. There’s only a rickety bench outside for seating. Since it isn’t a cafe, I can overlook the staff’s blank stares and unresponsiveness to my attempts at friendly conversation. I have to acknowledge that they are well-versed in the origins and composition of beans, and great at recommending products for whatever you may be interested in. The array of knee-high canvas sacks can easily leave you indecisive. However, for tea, I prefer going to McNulty’s in the West Village.
If you aren’t interested in purchasing a pound of aromatic beans, you can get a cup of drip coffee on the cheap at Porto Rico. Regardless of which location you choose to go, the coffee is consistently top-notch. No surprise, I get the same attitude whichever location I walk into. Maybe it’s just me.