Report From the Coffee Battlefield

Categories: Featured, Sietsema

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The mellow, mellow Stumptown macchiato.

While the name may sound like a retirement village for Civil War amputees, coffee aficionados know that Stumptown of Portland, Oregon, is one of the country's most respected coffee roasters and retailers, credited with revolutionizing the brewing of coffee.

Now Stumptown has arrived in Gotham, and the coffee-obsessed minions--and West Coast displaced--are flocking. While the roasting operation recently opened in Brooklyn's Red Hook, a coffee bar debuted three days ago in the wholesale district of Manhattan, where coffee bars have been few and far between. It's located just off the lobby of the Ace Hotel, a hipster hostelry if ever there was one, with strange library-like tables in the lobby, and a pair of stuffed badgers cavorting in a glass case.

The bar was chill and quiet when I visited this afternoon, almost empty except for a knot of admiring barristas from other establishments. I talked to a Cafe Grumpy employee who had been completely taken in by the Stumptown mystique. "This coffee is wonderful, isn't it?" She eagerly exclaimed. I had a macchiato, prettily marked on the top with heart-shaped foam. It set me back $2.80, but seemed almost worth it. The coffee was strong, but without a trace of acid. Am I going to abandon my umpteen other coffee bars? Not likely, but I will drop by whenever I'm in the neighborhood. 18 West 29th Street, 212-679-2222

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