Can you really travel the world all without hoping on a plane? Well if that world is the world of coffee, it’s certainly possible to circumnavigate the globe all within a few blocks in New York City. From Italy to Australia and everywhere between, some of the world’s best coffee styles and shops are all easy to find between Port Authority and Penn Station.
There’s no substitute to actually going around the world to experience different cultures and cuisines, but if time is short, sampling some top quality specialty coffee from around the world can be a good substitute. Along this short stretch of the city are countless small and large third wave specialty coffee shops roasting a variety of beans and brews. From the roasty espressos of Italy, creamy frothed concoctions of Australia, and back to the robust blends from around the world found in American styles, even with variation from West Coast to East, there’s such a wide variety of brews in this little area that it’s time to take the trip.
I discovered this little stretch on my walk from my new commute to my new office. I was amazed at just how many coffee shops there are between the bus station and my office, and then found even more on Google maps. No matter how big or how small, I tried a latte at each. I was surprised both at just how good every single one was, and yet how different they could be.
Right next to Port Authority is the Australian chain Bluestone Lane. Australians figured out how to do coffee right, and this popular chain of coffee shops demonstrates it well. The food selection includes a nice set of Aussie breaky favorites from pastries to sandwiches. The coffee is the star; the expert baristas craft delicious brews pretty quickly, so there’s little wait. The espresso is robust and flavor packed, so you always get a great cup. This location doesn’t even seem to get too busy considering the highly trafficked area. It’s oddly a relaxing environment to enjoy a drink before heading back out. It’s no wonder the chain has quickly expanded across the city.
Just down the street is Piccolo Café, a somewhat Italian style spot. This is one of the better coffee shops in midtown where specialty coffee is brewed to order. The space is only just big enough for the counter and a small seating counter around the windows, but they manage to fit in great coffee there. The baristas craft a tasty espresso with a strong blend of beans that packs a punch. It’s a good spot to grab a morning fuel up. The coffee is a bit more on the robust side than other cafes in the area, but makes for a great wake me up.
A bit further down the street is Gregory’s Coffee. Actually there are several. For a fairly big and quickly growing chain coffee spot, they do make some good specialty coffee. The pastries and other breakfast items are also pretty good and worth picking up. The coffee itself is quite flavorful and compares well to other third wave coffee spots. Considering it has larger chain perks like mobile ordering and pick up, it’s no wonder it’s super popular and there’s often a line. With a nice reward program and ease of pick up, this might become my go to spot.
Doubtless the chain that really started third wave coffee in San Francisco, Blue Bottle is the gold standard for amazing coffee. Brewed with highly selective beans that are responsibly sourced and constantly evaluated, it’s really tough to find a better coffee anywhere in the world. Now that it’s become a massive chain empire, it’s good to see the coffee remains just as good. They also may have the best iced coffee I’ve ever had, brewed with chicory to give it some extra flavor. Plus, sitting right on Bryant park, there’s a perfect spot to sit and sip it with great views.
Café Grumpy may have risen to fame from Girls, but the great coffee there stands on its own. The space is fairly large for a small specialty shop, and you can actually stand and wait for a drink without truly being in anyone’s way which is unique for specialty cafes in the area. Technically representing Brooklyn, it’s a great representation of a flavor forward brew that doesn’t skimp on the frothed milk, giving it almost a sweet flavor. I definitely wasn’t grumpy after a double shot after a long bus ride.
Culture Espresso, an independently owned café represents Manhattan coffee in an area busy with lots of folks from outside Manhattan. For a New York coffee shop, the inside is surprisingly bright an airy, complete with chandeliers. The coffee is just as bright and cheery thanks to some high quality beans. I barely got out the door and down the street toward my office before I had slurped down the whole thing.
It’s incredible that such a wide variety of coffee exists in such a small area of the city. There’s West Coast, East Coast, Australia, and Italy all within a 10 minute walk. There are big chains and independent solo cafes. No matter what type of coffee you like, as long as it’s good, you’ll find it here.