I’ve been to Birch Coffee a few times and considered keeping it a secret. In a neighborhood that could be mistaken for Midtown because of an overwhelming number of chain restaurants, Birch stands out as a rare find. The cafe is connected to the lobby of the swanky Gershwin Hotel, and is hard to miss despite the construction out front. The facade is painted in a vibrant red and outfitted with horns protruding into the street (you read that correctly). While the attached hotel may be new-wave and trendy, Birch Coffee is a well-executed return to what makes a cafe ideal.
Tag Archives: Coffee
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.
Food in Midtown East is often either too expensive or too boring (soups, salads, and sandwiches). Güllüoglu was featured in RealCheapEats‘ list for a while, and I immediately added it to my list when I noticed the location. Güllüoglu is a Turkish cafe known for serving up 12 varieties of baklava, a Turkish pastry made with phyllo dough, crushed nuts, and sweetened with syrup and honey. After asking for a Turkish coffee ($2.75), I skipped past the menu’s entrees and went straight for their specialties. The waitress returned a few minutes later (without my drink) to ask how I can drink coffee without sugar, a question I didn’t know how to answer.
I figured I might share this helpful infographic that I came across. Many years ago, I avoided lattes and macchiatos because I didn’t want to risk the embarrassment of ordering something incorrectly. Baristas can be quite cruel. This infographic shows the breakdown of common espresso-based drinks and even how to pronounce them. It is by no means exhaustive of what there is to know about espresso, but it’s a great starting point. Click on the image to expand.
“Espresso is prepared by forcing pressurized steam through finely ground dark-roast coffee beans. Think of it is strong, concentrated coffee. You can add extra ‘shots’ of espresso to make your drink stronger.”
My research of Everyman Espresso led me to expect an arrogant bunch of hipster-baristas, and my suspicion was confirmed while Derek and I waited on the line. We overheard a girl ask Sam Penix, the owner, for a vanilla latte. I cringed. I figured it was her first time outside of Starbucks. Sam gave a curt explanation for why their coffee isn’t flavored: “It’s that damn good.” The phrase was also written on their menu, which was unusually pricey. My latte was $4.25 and Derek’s cortado cost him $3.75. We passed on the baked goods which are supplied local businesses.
I made the journey to Berkli Parc Cafe through the rain, on the way hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed. Berkli Parc opened up less than a year ago directly across a Starbucks. I initially categorized it as a sandwich shop, and neglected to notice they were also known for their coffee. Instead of getting a sandwich, I ended up with a Strawberry Fields ($3.75/$4.25)–one of their specialty drinks–and a Pistachio Biscotti (75 cents).
The quirky name and the high reviews led me to Gimme! Coffee, continuing my mission of finding NYC’s best brew.
Unsure of what to order, I waited to see what was on the Featured Coffee list. I made a snap judgment to get Honduras Las Peñitas ($3), labeled to be a “new relationship coffee, melon and berry sweetness.” It sounded interesting and I had a feeling it could go one of two ways.