We took some time with three influential roasters in the specialty coffee industry to talk a little bit about how they got into roasting to begin with, and where they've taken it now.
'stumptown' on Serious Eats
Stumptown's pastries don't always get the love that they should. Change that with these two sweet treats.
It's both the salvation of the freelancer and the bane of the cafe owner's existence: the coffee-shop-as-workplace. And though the scenario's second-nature in most cities, finding a place to "laptop camp" in New York City can prove to be a bit of a challenge. That said, there are a handful of places that still let, and in some cases encourage, their working patrons to linger.
It's the Starbucks Capital of the USA, the birthplace of specialty coffee in America and the only place you can reliably get a cappuccino at the laundromat—so why aren't there more truly exceptional coffee places in Seattle? We've got our hunches—it's a city steeped in a certain tradition of coffee, and one where there's plenty of coffee that's at least very good—so digging the most special cafes out of the throngs of "specialty cafes" can be a toughie. And though any rundown of the top of the tops in the Emerald City is sure to incite minor street riots, we're pleased to point you toward the truly best stops on the Seattle Coffee Tour, as we see it.
Just because you only have the time to walk five short blocks for lunch or coffee shouldn't leave Midtownites stranded, and though it's a part of Gotham slow to embrace, say, a lengthy Chemex brew, it shouldn't be so hard to find a great cup of carefully crafted, thoughtfully sourced, beautifully roasted coffee in the heart of Midtown New York City, right? Well...maybe. We'll let the economy catch up for a bit and cross our fingers for a flood of newcomers in months and years to come (we're looking at you, future Blue Bottle Rockefeller Center) and in the meantime point out a few truly great oases in a blighted landscape of chains and delis.
They're baked by Ovenly, priced at $2.50 apiece, and go by the name "Stumptown Shorty." It's more crumbly than crisp, with little caramelized pockets of burnt sugar throughout. A fun little twist and a perfect pairing that serves only to heighten the intensity of the espresso.
The playing field of cool brewed coffee has widened considerably since the days when espresso over ice was the only option. From industrial plastic tubs to mesmerizing chemistry-set corkscrew drippers, cold brew is in full summer effect. Whether you're toting a cup of melting ice cubes to the park, or bringing home a handsome bottle to nurse all week long, you want your coffee cold? Baby, you've got options.
As spring blushes into summer, the emergence of lush, almost enthusiastically flavorful Kenyan coffees has come upon us courtesy of some of North America's finest roasters. We've rounded up four of the very best of these—all hailing from the fruitful Nyeri region of Kenya—plus a bonus coffee from Burundi for good measure.
Lower rents and a tabula rasa of long-forsaken storefronts with huge potential dominate the ever-changing Bed-Stuy, and coffee is hot on the heels of restaurants and hipster-exodus gentrifiers in populating the city's streets. Three of the newest are doing a great job both in pouring above-the-bar espresso and coffee drinks, as well as filling out a sense of community in a constantly shifting landscape.
There are few neighborhoods more pleasant for a coffee wander than those on the East Village and Lower East Side of Manhattan. There must be something in the proximity of the East River that just brings the magic—wait, scratch that—at least there's something in the community, anyhow. This list comprises a handful of our favorite coffee destinations in the neighborhood.
Maybe this endless winter is kicking our morning carb cravings into overdrive; or maybe we've just had so many early meetings, we've grabbed breakfast treats from all over. Either way, life at Serious Eats of late has been one great muffin after another. Here are some of the best muffins in NYC we've had recently; what are your favorites in the city?
They always say it's the little things that make a big difference—and that is especially true when it comes to afternoon sweets. A Stroopwafel over a mug of office coffee, a little bag of Honeycomb candies, a pint of Kulfi-Pistachio Cardamom Ice Cream. The smallest things can turn a bad day better, and a good day amazing.
The pudding is baked high and mighty in a muffin cup, with equal parts bread and dark chocolate, the big chunks all melty and soft. The surface is a deep brown and offers a fine crunch against the dense, moist pudding.
If New York City is truly in the throes of birthing a coffee revolution, it's going to be impossible to do so without true five-borough penetration. Sweetleaf Coffee in Long Island City, Queens, joins the neighborhood's trendy upswing by raising its own game: now a place of bigger, better beauty in which to savor the borough's best coffees.
Distance from the beaten path has never much thwarted New Yorkers or coffee snobs, most of whom relish the opportunity to get the hell off that beaten path anyway. Hike on out to Red Hook, then, where Stumptown Coffee's much-lauded Brooklyn roastery has at long last opened a cafe space open to the public, the Red Hook Tasting Room.
"All that range we've begun to embrace in single origin brewed coffee is available in the concentrated, mercurial world of espresso as well." [Photos: Liz Clayton] Hipster haven Variety may not be on your morning commute, but you're only an...
"I have a Yugoslavian mini folding bike that we want to fashion into a grinder." [Photos: Liz Clayton and Kickstand] Maybe it doesn't take that much to make a cup of amazing coffee—great coffee, a water source, a little electricity,...
[Photo: Kathy YL Chan] This slice of caramelized French Toast ($4) is baked by Cafe Pedlar in Brooklyn and also sold at Stumptown in the Ace Hotel. Thick slices cut from a filone loaf, with every part of the...
From Time magazine's quick primer on "third-wave coffee": "'Starbucks laid the path, [Stumptown Coffee founder Duane Sorenson says], 'They made people aware. They offered better coffee in their time than was out there. But now there's far more specialty coffee out there today, and there will be even more so five years from now that will give the consumer—Midwest, West Coast, East Coast, wherever—a lot more options than Starbucks.'"
[Photos: Kathy Chan] When Stumptown first opened, pastries were supplied by Cafe Pedlar, a parade of olive oil bundt cakes and pretzels. Then the lineup started to include croissants from Ceci-Cela, and now? A whole line of sweet and...