East Coast Coffee Chronicles


December 2015

Coffee Journal Update: Brewing up a new coffee blog

12314569_787708254707_831876219419196319_oAs in my previous coffee journal updates I’ll go in chronological order of coffee experiences in this first official ‘Barry’s NYC Coffee Journal’ update…After going to a doctor’s appointment in Midtown I decided to check out Blue Bottle’s Rockefeller Center location. Thankfully though I had some difficulty finding it I had a great experience starting from the moment that I walked in. As with my love for seeing others enjoying craft beer it was exciting to see tourists and young professionals ordering good quality coffee and buying beans to take home. Another aspect of this cafe that impressed me was that  it’s set up as if 2 cafes are operating in one location. One serving only coffee and the other serving coffee and food. So after browsing their selection of single origin coffees I picked their ‘Ethiopia Sidama Hunkute’ and a Costa Rican coffee whose cupping notes peeked my interest and then decided to order my usual pour-over and macchiato from the counter serving both coffee and food. To my delight both baristas were open to geeking out with me, helping me finalize my decision for which single origin coffees to purchase, and chat about the aromas I picked up from the ‘Ethiopia Sidama Hunkute’ (ESH) pour-over (lemongrass and black tea) that I had ordered. As seen in the picture that I took with my cell phone when I got home I ended up swapping the Costa Rican beans out with the barista recommended ‘Honduras Santa Elena Mayor Victor Ventura’ (HSEMVV). Upon brewing them at home I was surprised that the ESH wasn’t as berry forward as the other Sidama coffees that I’ve tried, but enjoyed it nonetheless…At first the HSEMVV didn’t impress me as much as i thought it would because I hadn’t tried a coffee with a combination of brown sugar and nutty sweetness in the aroma and upfront taste. However, once it cooled down a bit some mild acidity surfaced and made my drinking experience quite enjoyable. One last thing that I’d like to note here is that while a touch pricey I enjoy being able to buy 8oz bags of beans at Blue Bottle cafes so that I can buy 2 single origin coffees at once to enjoy over the following week or so (instead of buying one 12 or 16oz bag).

12370913_789979592927_3681836704681235579_oThe next two coffees that I alternated between each involve their own rather unique new specialty coffee experiences or stories if you will…For those of you who follow my homebrewing blog I recently brewed a brown ale and then split it so I could add cold brewed coffee to one half. As you can see in the picture to the left I purchased two coffees from Porto Rico Importing Company (Columbian Supreme and their Iced Coffee Blend), cold brewed a portion of them using my usual 1 cup coarsely ground coffee to 3 cups water rartio, and then added some of the Columbian Supreme cold brew to one half of my brown ale. Luckily I had more than enough beans leftover to brew via my Hario V60 pour-over cone and the french press that I keep in my office at work.

12357202_789979587937_2320731638654649962_oThe next coffee that I enjoyed brewing at home involved the following experience. After yet another dental appointment at the NYU clinic I headed straight to Madman Espresso (14th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues) for a dose of “my usual”. Thankfully the pour-over coffee of the day was a single origin from Caffe Vita called Columbia Esperanza and not a blend (not that blends aren’t also good). As i sipped on it I looked up the cupping notes on my phone and was able to pick up the honey and pineapple notes that I had just read about…This time I decided to order a second pour-over instead of a macchiato and before leaving I bought a pound of  Columbia Esperanza beans to go. I should not that the barista scooped the beans from his large bag into a smaller one that he had saved for this type of occasion. Upon asking for the beans he informed me that a free espresso shot comes with the purchase of beans to go. So for the first time I gave straight espresso a try and to my surprise I was able to enjoy it without a chaser of club soda or needing to add milk. In turn, I’ll definitely be ordering straight espresso again to truly taste the difference between the coffees that NYC roasters use for their espresso drinks.

12402225_791978576947_8391607727935882148_oAs you may have seen in my previous blog post (‘Public Service Announcement / Where I stand‘); I visited Gorilla Coffee‘s Bergen Street location on Monday, December 28th. Upon my arrival I was pleased to see that the cafe wasn’t too busy. As I usually do, I first browsed their “beans to go” (yes I know coffee is technically a fruit) selection and chose Asobagri, a Guatemalan single origin coffee whose cupping notes are baker’s chocolate, plum, and mango. I then walked up to the counter and asked the barista for a pour-over recommendation. She recommended and I then ordered their SAN JOAQUIN, EL SALVADOR which had a great floral spice note to it that I really enjoyed. In addition, to the pour-over I ordered their single origin espresso of the day (La Esperanza, El Salvador) in a macchiato, which I wasn’t too impressed by, but I’d still like to taste the coffee itself at some point…Having enjoyed the Asobagri over the days since purchasing it I’m quite certain that I’ll be buying more Gorilla single origin coffees in the near future…As a side note to me this Guatemalan coffee initially presents with a punch of honey in the aroma and taste that is typical of coffees that I’ve tasted from Guatemala and Colombia, but as it cools a big dose of delicious baker’s chocolate and fruity acidity dominate the aroma and flavor and make for a perfect cold weather drinking experience.

So why’d I decide to start a completely separate blog devoted to sharing my NYC specialty coffee experiences? Two conversations that took place this past Monday guided me towards starting a coffee blog instead of continuing to post ‘coffee journal updates’ on my homebrewing blog. First, when chatting with the baristas at Gorilla Coffee I told them that I have been trying my best to visit as many of NYC’s coffee roasters as possible and they were both quite curious about which ones I had been to and which ones I enjoyed the most. Then once I got to work I was had a great discussion with a fellow coffee geek friend of mine via Facebook and he asked me why I hadn’t started a coffee blog yet. So after looking over the updates that I had already posted on I decided to take the time to register a new WordPress blog called Barry’s NYC Coffee Journal. I hope you enjoy this first official journal update…I’m looking forward to continuing to share more of my NYC specialty coffee experiences with you in the near future.


Public Service Announcement / Where I stand

Gorilla 1228a

 Public Service Announcement

Please be patient while I set up this new blog. Also, being that this blog is an offshoot of my homebrewing blog aka The Brewed Palate, I will only be posting here when I have to content to post. For example, if you look at my first post I haven’t posted a journal entry in a little over a month and I therefore will be typing up an update ASAP. Over time I plan on putting together some tools that will help those looking to experience NYC’s growing specialty coffee culture find the best cafes to have a memorable NYC coffee experience. So be patient and please comment below with suggestions for future posts.

Where I stand

Which coffee roasters have I tried coffees from since I began my journey this past summer and which ones are on my would I like to visit in the coming weeks and months?

Coffee roasters whose cafes I’ve visited so far:

1. Cafe Buunni (Washington Heights, Manhattan)
2. La Colombe (SOHO, Manhattan)
3. Intelligensia (Chelsea, Manhattan)
4. Blue Bottle (Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Rockafeller Center, Manhattan)
5. Porto Rico Importing Company (West Village, Manhattan)
6. Stumptown (West Village, Manhattan)
7. Elixr (Philadelphia, PA)
8. Irving Farm (Upper West Side, Manhattan)
9. Caffe Vita / Madman Espresso (Lower East Side, Manhattan)
10. Gorilla (Park Slope, Brooklyn)


To try list:

  • Grumpy – 199 Diamond Street Brooklyn, NY 11222 (roastery) / 193 Meserole Avenue | Brooklyn, NY 11222 (café)
  • Caffe Vita’s actual café – 124 Ludlow Street, New York, NY 10002
  • Joe Coffee  – 131 west 21st street New York, NY 10011
  • Irving Farm – to buy beans  – 224 W 79th St, New York, NY 10024
  • Plowshares Coffee 2730 Broadway (btwn 104th/105th) New York, NY 10025
  • Oslo Coffee – 328 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
  • Brooklyn Roasting Company – 50 West 23rd St. (between 5th and 6th Avenues) New York, NY 10010 OR 25 Jay Street Brooklyn, NY 11201 (Roastery)
  • City of Saints – 299 Meserole St, Brooklyn NY 11206 (Roastery) / 79 E 10th St @ 4th Ave., New York NY 10003 (café)
  • Stone Street Coffee – available at Fairway Market
  • Crop to Cup Importers – 541A 3rd Ave Brooklyn, NY 11215

My NYC Coffee Adventure So far


10/16/15 – The start of a new passion

Over this past Summer I began moving away from major chain coffee shop coffees (cough..cough Starbucks aka “Charbucks” to some coffee geeks) and started visiting local specialty coffee roasters; the first of which is located right in my neighborhood. Buunni Coffee is a relatively small roaster of Etheopean and other African coffees, each of which is sold at various roast levels. Their Washington Heights cafe is always busy and the staff are just as passionate about brewing high quality coffee as their customers are about drinking it. After trying the majority of their coffees I was inspired to venture out of Washington Heights and try coffees from as many different roasters as possible and boy have I had a great start to my coffee adventure.

I should note that I’ve always loved the flavor of coffee and never been one to add more than a touch of skim milk and 1 tsp of sugar or packet of Splenda to my cup. But it took until 2015 for me to take hold of the opportunity to utilize my palate, which I’ve spent years developing, to begin to fully experience the wide range of flavors that specialty coffees have to offer. Below is a “list” of the coffees that I’ve tried as of the above date (bolded coffees are the ones I liked the most, italicized coffee are ones that I wouldn’t recommend).


213 Pinehurst Avenue (at 187th Street), New York, NY 10033

Harrar, Sidama, Addis Abba, Limu

La Colombe Torrefaction 

Visited their Soho location 270 Lafayette Street New York, NY 10012

Ethiopia Ardi (Sidama), Phocea, Corsica


La Perla De Oaxaca, Mexico, Tikur Anbessa Etheopia (my favorite of all the coffees that I’ve tried so far).

Porto Rico Importing Company 

I usually go to their Bleacker Street location 201 BLEECKER ST.
NEW YORK, N.Y. 10012

Tanzanian Peaberry, India Monsoon Malabar (an acquired taste)

Blue Bottle

Visited their main NYC location location in Willaimsburg location. 160 Berry St.
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Kenya Muranga Gatubu (close in flavor profile to the Tikur Anbessa Etheopia), Bella Donovan, Three Africans.

 10/19/15 – Sunday in Philly – My First Macchiato

coffee elixr

Yesterday my wife and I took a day trip to Philadelphia to meet up with some of my fellow Brew Tubers club members. Since I knew we’d be arriving there before we’d be ready to drink any beer, I took the opportunity to do a Google search for local coffee roasters and found three that I’d try to visit. Though we only made it to two of them, I enjoyed my experience at both of them

As shown in the above picture we first went to Elixr Coffee Roasters (207 S. Sydenham St Philadelphia, PA 19102) and I ordered a pour over of their single origin Konga (Etheopia, Yirgacheffe) and a double shot of Bee Keeper, their house espresso. The Konga was bright and fruity with low to moderate acidity and had a light body. While I’ve found many Ethiopian coffees to be quite blueberry and blackberry forward in terms of their fruit flavor character, this one’s fruitiness came off as more semi-ripe melon, apricot, and strawberry, which as times was akin to a diluted fruit punch. With its low to moderate acidity this coffee didn’t have the acidic pop that I’m become used to in the finish of other fruit forward coffees. Therefore, I’m looking forward to brewing it in a french press in order to give it the body that I think it needs to make it more enjoyable on chilly Autumn mornings.

While enjoying my mug of pour over I slowly sipped my Bee Keeper espresso. I must admit that I’m quite new to drinking straight espresso and was therefore glad to be given a small glass of club soda to cleanse my palate between sips. Though it was on the bitter side for me, I enjoyed Bee Keeper’s rich body and flavor profile of cocoa, caramel, and black tea…To better explain my final thoughts I’ll give some background. This past Friday I went to the Starbucks in my neighborhood to pick up some of their Via instant coffee and ended up ordering my first ever straight dopio espresso. Without putting any milk or sugar in it I walked out of the shop and upon taking my first sip I was taken aback by the bitterness of the espresso. In order to save this first experience I went back inside, stirred in some milk and sugar, and was subsequently quite surprised at the transformation of my experience. In other words, I loved the resulting flavors and made sure to sip my small afternoon pick-me-up as slowly as possible…So while I enjoyed pushing myself to drink the Bee Keeper espresso straight, I’m hoping to try it again sometime as a macchiato.

coffee macAfter eating lunch, meeting up with some of my fellow Brew Tubers for a couple pints, and walking around the Penn Square area, my wife and I decided to grab a warm drink at La Colombe Torrefaction’s Dilworth Plaza café (1414 South Penn Square Philadelphia, PA 19102). After looking over the menu I decided to try their workshop series macchiato. Sadly I did not ask which of their workshop series coffees they were using for the macchiato. However, after admiring the star design made by the barista I took my first sip I was blown after by the fruity acidity of the espresso and knew I’d enjoy sipping it while my wife enjoyed her hot chocolate. We enjoyed our drinks so much that we both ordered a second round. As I finished my second macchiato I remarked to my wife that the acidity was beginning to overwhelm and dry out my palate. Therefore, in the future I’ll probably sample both espressos on the menu to switch up the flavor profiles and or drink some water in between “rounds”.

10/24/15 – Changing of the Roasters

Before I discuss specific coffees I’d like to discuss my current routine for trying out new coffees (blend and single origin) at home… A) Currently I am the sole caffeinated coffee drinker at home, and therefore despite  my 20oz travel mug which I use 5-6 days a week for my coffee, it’s been taking me a bit longer than in the past to finish off a pound of beans.  B) Due to my tendency to go all out when exploring a hobby that relates to my creative nature I’ve recently started buying two coffees at a time so I can alternate as I so desire. While this may prove to be at times a losing battle in terms of coffee freshness, I plan on continuing doing so as long as time and finances allow. C) Lastly I should note that I store my beans in Vacu Vin Coffee Saver tinted air tight containers that I store in a kitchen cabinet in order to maintain freshness as best as I can.

Elixr KenyaOn to the title of this journal entry… After 10 days (minus 2 where I didn’t drink them) of alternating between Three Africans and Bella Donovan, two of  Blue Bottle’s year round blends I brewed my first pour over cup of Elixr’s Kenya Kiambu this morning. While sipping from my travel mug during my morning commute via subway (NYC), I was surprised to not pick up on any particular fruit flavors beyond the general moderate to high acidity and balanced sweetness that African coffees are known for. However, once I got to work and was sitting in my office eating breakfast, I removed the lid of my travel mug and was surprised to pick up a prominent mandarin orange flavor. Next, while Elixr’s cupping notes describe this coffee’s underlying sweetness as cocoa nib and clove, I perceived it as bakers chocolate with a touch of added sweetness and some earthy undertones. In terms of body, despite the coffee’s acidity creaping up towards the high end of medium and my brewing it via my Hario V60 pourover cone, this coffee’s body was definitely medium and smooth…I’ll have to drink more of it and brew it via French press to form my final opinion on it, but from this first cup/mug I can definitely give Elixr’s Kenya Kiambu a thumbs up.

For those who are interested click here to check a discussion about people’s go to coffee regions on the ‘coffee’ subreddit.

11/9/15 – Changing of the Roasters – Stumptown

Stump2After finishing two great African coffees from Elixr Coffee Roasters it was time to return to my NYC coffee adventures and check out another local roaster’s café. Though they’re not based in NYC, I was excited to check out Stumptown Coffee Roaster’s West 8th Street location. On Thursday, 11/5 I took the A train to West 4th St. and walked a few blocks to the café. Having been to their smaller Ace Hotel location, I was quite impressed by the size and décor of this location. Converted into a café from a bookshop,  the wood laden walls and furniture made it immediately clear that a lot of effort was put into creating a homey atmosphere for coffee lovers.

Stump3After choosing two coffees to try at home I made my way up the line of customers and ordered a pour over of their newest Ethiopian coffee (Ethiopia Kochere) and a macchiato. After a brief conversation, the barista who was taking my order gave me a card which I can bring back to get hole punched and eventually get a free 12oz bag of coffee and said the macchiato was on the house. As if my experience couldn’t get any better, the barista who brewed my chemex pour over did not take any short cuts. She used a timer to time the brewing process, a scale to weigh the beans and water, a hot plate to keep the water at the ideal temperature, and a glass stir stick to stir the coffee grounds during their initial bloom. As a budding coffee geek, her attention to detail only enhanced my experience and  gave me a new level of respect for Stumptown.

Stump1The two coffees that I purchased to brew at home were Ethiopia Mordecofe and Guatemala Bella Vista. So far I’ve brewed them both with my Hario V60 pour over cone. Both of them were true to their cupping notes and packed a bunch with great body and flavors. I’m definitely excited to try more Guatemalan coffees in the coming months, but I’ll definitely make sure to always have an Ethiopian or Kenyan available to brew at home. In other words, I’ve come to prefer the flavor profile of coffees from those countries and want to keep exploring how various factors effect the differences in each coffee’s character (body, aroma, taste).

 11/27/15 – Madman visits Irving Farm only to return to Stumptown

Madman 1Since my last Coffee Journal entry I’ve had some palate please coffee experiences and as I sip my Friday morning coffee (emergency Starbucks Via – Italian Roast in my office at work) I’m writing this entry…On 11/12 (and again on 11/23) I had a dentist appointment on the lower east side of Manhattan and upon a friend’s recommendation checked out Madman Espresso (319 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003). Madman serves coffees from Caffe Vita both as pour over and espresso. When I first went there on the 12th I enjoyed a pour over of their Theo blend, which was quite straight forward tasting with hints of chocolate and an herbaceous quality woven into an otherwise generic darker roast coffee character. What saved my first visit was the macchiato that I got along with the Theo pour over. The espresso flavors were rich, chocolaty, and finished with a hint of fruity acidity and were blended quite well with just the right amount of steamed milk. Also, the barista was quite welcoming and open to chatting about specialty coffee and the rotation of single origin and blend coffees that come through this Madman location. Before leaving to head to work I ordered a second macchiato to go because I wanted to continue savoring my experience for just a bit longer…When I went back for my second visit I was happy to be told that the pour over coffee of the day was single origin Kenya AA and I quickly ordered it. Being that I’ve slowly become familiar with Kenyan coffees I was pleased to taste and smell notes of berries, candied citrus, and toffee. Before leaving I ordered a macchiato to go and for some reason it didn’t taste the same as the first two that I had in that it was nuttier and not as bold tasting. Next I go there I’ll have to ask if they also rotate which coffees they use for their espresso-based drinks.

     IrvingFarmOn Sunday, 11/15 I went with my wife to check out yet another NY coffee roaster named Irving Farm Coffee Roasters. The upper west side location that we visit was quite busy which took away from my preferred quiet coffee drinking atmosphere, but I was able to grab seats and then get online to order my usual pourover and macchiato. For my pour over I chose  El Molino, El Salvodor, which although it wasn’t as bold as some of the Ethiopian coffees that I’ve had, lived up to its cupping notes with flavors of dried Apricot and molasses along with a hint of almond in the finish. The macchiato was good, but not exceptional in that it didn’t have any flavors that made it unique…I’d like to visit either Irving Farm again at a time when this or one of their other locations isn’t as busy in order to get the full/quiet coffee shop experience I’ve come to enjoy.

12184231_785673382607_3052784769053745245_oLastly on Thursday 11/19 I once again went to Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ West 8th Street location to buy some beans and have my usual pour over and macchiato…Instead of going for an African coffee I decided to try Marvin Robles, Costa Rica , a barista’s recommendation. True to its cupping notes it had a great aftertaste of rainier cherries. Since Stumptown always has a large variety of single origin coffees in stock I’ll definitely be continuing my efforts to venture out of my African coffee comfort zone and try coffees from Latin American countries such as Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Current coffees: Stumptown Ethiopia Duromina and my friend Merlin’s whisky barrel-aged coffee.

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