Some of you may have noticed that the Singl Coffee social media channels have been fairly quiet over the last few weeks. The reason being, we have been away on our holidays :p
We took a 2 week trip out to NYC, Miami and Florida Keys, tasting as much coffee as we could along the way.
I decided before I went away that I would photograph each cup of coffee I had during the 2 weeks, and then use these photos to write a blog post on the quality of coffee on offer. It wasn’t until I started writing this blog post that I realised just how much coffee was consumed in 10 days! Instead, I will write about my favourite spots and the coffee’s that surprised me the most. As you can imagine, Starbucks is Starbucks no matter where you go, so who wants to sit and read about that? Boring!
There is no 2 ways about it, I was definitely impressed by the coffee in the states, especially when you compare it to what we have on offer in the UK. The coffee from cafes, restaurants, Starbucks, and fast food places is all pretty damn good coffee, and you are hard pressed to find a place serving crappy coffee. It is well known that Americans love their coffee, and us brits are still lagging behind when it comes to % consumption, but it is clear that with higher consumption comes a greater appreciation and higher quality.
Our first stop on our trip was NYC. We arrived late evening which in British time was past midnight, therefore one of our first stops was (believe it or not) a Ralph Lauren pop up coffee van. The van was parked up outside the Rockafeller tower in Rockafeller square. It was a small, British racing green, Citroen vintage van. Very quirky, not hipster, but it was pleasing to look at and was clearly very popular as the queue for coffee was huge. Inside, the van was decked out in gleaming white, chrome and light wood interior. White espresso pulls, white and chrome espresso machines, white and chrome nitro taps with wooden handles. The Baristas were smartly dressed Donning Ralph Lauren aprons. It certainly looked the part, but whether the coffee would be any good, I highly doubted it.
Checking their menu, they pretty much sold every single style of coffee available on the market today. They even had V60’s and Chemex available.
My partner opted for an iced latte and I chose the nitro cold brew.
The nitro cold brew was amazing. The weather in NYC was hot and humid, 29 degrees with sky high humidity levels, a nice cold drink was exactly what was needed. Personally, I prefer a Nitro cold brew over a regular cold brew. The nitrogen pumped through the coffee thickens it up and gives you that ‘fuller mouth feel’. The coffee itself was 100% arabica, all sustainably sourced. It was naturally sweet and fruity (I am no coffee taster btw :p ). After not expecting much, we were both very surprised and thoroughly enjoyed our coffee’s. It also got me hyped up to try some other real coffee shops on the streets of NYC.
The next morning, we left our hotel and went on the hunt for more coffee (addicts, I know). As we were unsure where abouts in the city we were, where was good to go, and where we had to avoid, we found the nearest Starbucks and played it safe.
That afternoon, we made our way down to the meatpacking district of NYC. I spotted a cool looking coffee shop across the way called Kobrick Coffee Co. and was all set to go in and see what they had to offer. I took a photo of the building the shop was situated in, headed over, and somehow ended up in a bar next door drinking beer instead of coffee! Shit happens :p I never did make it into the coffee shop, but Google and Tripadviser give it 4.5 stars so it can’t be too bad!
As NYC is so big, most days we had to take the subway across town. Luckily, the subway station by our hotel had a Dunkin Donuts shop inside. My biggest surprise of all was the quality of the coffee they served. In hindsight I don’t know why I was surprised because half of the people in the city walk around with either a takeout Starbucks cup, or a takeout Dunkin Donuts cup! Surely that’s a sign the coffee must be worthwhile!
Each morning I got the same drink, an original blend brewed coffee, black no milk. Simple, but oh so tasty! Unfortunately, the guys serving didn’t know much about the coffee, but a quick google explained that Dunkin Donuts have got their coffee game covered! All sustainably sourced Arabica coffees; just what we like. If you are ever in the states and pass a Dunkin Donuts, I would recommend them for a coffee. Their Donuts and muffins aren’t half bad either 😉
Over the river we stopped off at Brooklyn Roasting Company. Inside there wasn’t much going on, it was a large empty room, floor to ceiling windows covered the entrance wall with a counter facing you as you walked in. I got the feeling they were new to the premises or were in the process of rearranging because there was a lot of empty floor space where you would have expected tables and chairs, and a lot of staff that looked very busy, but not serving coffee. We opted for a Cortado, and again one of their freshly brewed single origin coffees. They had 2 coffee’s on offer, a Java and a Malawi. I chose the single origin Malawi.
As you can see in the photo, the beans were bought from the Mzuzu cooperative. Sustainably sourced and of excellent quality, I could not fault the coffee at all. Their description of the coffee was ‘Earthy, Savoury, Slippery, Silky, Chewy, Snappy, Sneezy, Grumpy’. Take from that what you will. I felt it was quite a subtle coffee, no overpowering bitterness or flavours. I wouldn’t rush back to try it again, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if it was all they had on offer that day.
On our last full day, whilst hiding from the torrential rain outside, we stumbled across one of the most exciting coffee shops we had seen so far; Noble Tree. We found them tucked away inside the World Trade Centre shopping mall. The shop was in a corner unit, floor to ceiling glass with a stunning white and gold Diedrich coffee roaster on display in the window.
As you walked in there was a wooden menu hanging from the wall listing the coffee’s they currently had on offer. These guys were not messing about (See the photo below). Brazil Dromedaire Cuvee, Abertura Espresso (I have no idea what this is) and Sumatra Kerinci.
We both chose the Brazilian coffee, the taste profile being the deciding factor; Chocolate, Hazelnut and Pear! It sounds like a perfect dessert description!
I must be honest, I was slightly disappointed. It didn’t stand out from the crowd as an amazing coffee, I could quite easily have been drinking a Starbucks Americano. The flavours just weren’t there; I was getting the chocolate through but the pear and hazelnut not so much. All in all Nobletree is a beautiful coffee shop, definitely worth a visit, I would probably try the Sumatra though.
Finally, before we took a flight down to Miami we stopped off at the famous H&H Bagels on the Upper West side. As you can tell from the name of the shop, H&H Bagels speciality is… Fresh Bagels, not coffee. However, the coffee they are serving is some of the best. After ordering I was pointed in the direction of a blackboard where I found a little bit of info about their coffee beans.
They were serving beans from a small roaster called Ruby. The board read: ‘Exceptionally sweet, balanced, with notes of chocolate & cherry. Seasonal blend of Colombian, Kenyan & Guatemalan beans.’ Ruby coffee roasters specialises in high quality, sustainably sourced beans that change with each harvesting season. By reading through their website you can tell their passion for sourcing and roasting beans is exceptional. Unfortunately, they are small, and US based so getting beans shipped to the UK will be expensive, however it may just be worth it for a special treat! Check them out here.
I am going to sign off here as this blog post is getting pretty lengthy! They were just a few of the places we visited in NYC, and there were hundreds more we didn't visit. It is a fantastic place for coffee, both large chain and small independent coffee shops.
The next post will be on the coffee of Florida and the keys.