The $4.25 Iced Coffee: Blue Bottle's 'Burg Debut
Behind these unassuming doors, does greatness lie?
Wednesday was a benchmark moment for this city. In the great tradition of going to ridiculous lengths for pretty pedestrian things -- like waiting an hour just to score a $5 burger, or the blood sport of making reservations for a $30 burger -- the $4.25 cup of iced coffee arrived with the opening of the San Francisco-bred Blue Bottle Coffee in Williamsburg. We got an early taste.
Meet the infamous Blue Bottle "Kyoto" coffee. This is Blue Bottle's trademark sight: iced coffee, brewed drip-by-drip, intended to be consumed black, and costing $4.25 a cup. If you're a Steampunk fetishist, or find what Joseph Campbell called "the rapture of being alive" in watching something drip and then drinking it, it's an experience to be had. It's also this big:
For iced coffee the aroma's remarkably strong, absurdly fragrant. How does $4.25 coffee taste? Really, really bold. Really bold. Intense flavor, but so much as to render it almost undrinkable. It wasn't tar, it didn't have the "burned beans" taste Starbucks sells. It's a dark, dark cup of coffee with pretty strong floral notes. So dark, in fact, that the cup made its way from the store, to the train, to a desk in Manhattan, with plenty to go. If you're someone for whom no coffee is dark enough, this should do the trick, or more likely, set a threshold, which in this case, it did. At $4.25, you get what you pay for: A $4.25 cup of coffee only the most discerning coffee-drinking palates won't find disconcertingly strong, if that.
The other kind of iced coffee that's produced raves for Blue Bottle's taste from people who aren't obsessive coffee drinkers is their "New Orleans." It's their cold-brewed coffee, served over ice, with a splash of milk and a pinch of sugar. It's $4, and it is, for coffee, pretty great. The body's rich, buttery, but not heavy and really well balanced. The acidity isn't overwhelmed by the added sugar or the milk, but certainly has the harsh edges of your average cup of coffee rounded off to a fairly perfect degree. It's a pretty refreshing, smooth, remarkable cup of iced coffee. Maybe one of the best cups of iced coffee you're ever going to have. If you're willing to pay $4 for a small cup of iced coffee, of course.