10 Great Last Minute Gifts for Coffee and Tea Lovers

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Lauren Mowery for the Village Voice
It's now Monday before Christmas (!). Are you still desperate to fill the stockings of coffee and tea lovers on your list? Here's a last minute guide to ten presents you can buy ASAP, including a certificate for a roasting class, a set of premium teas, and an earth-friendly reusable mug.

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Toby's Estate Expands to the West Village, and Is Already Crowded

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Lauren Mowery for the Village Voice
Due to the hyper-local nature of coffee retail, "build it and they will come" is a perfect maxim for the response every new coffee shop that opens in the West Village receives. And thanks to the Australians, the Aussie coffee invasion of New York is now so widespread that there are two significant Australian cafés in the West Village just over a block away from each other, both completely swarmed with patrons. Like Bluestone Lane, Toby's Estate has several spots in the city, though the most recent outpost is more squarely focused on coffee than the Australian café experience.

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Pastries Infused With Tea and Love at Tiny Pinecone Teahouse

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Lauren Mowery

Pop-ups continue to proliferate around the city, as rents remain absurdly high and storefronts vacant. Greenwich Village newcomer Tiny Pinecone (58 West 8th Street, 732-977-8775) fills the area's void in high-quality teas, which are here paired with pastries that outshine the usual baked goods found in local cafés. But be careful of falling in love: For now, the cute Japanese-inspired spot plans to remain in its 8th Street location (a woefully cursed block for retailers and restaurants) only until February 2015.

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Want to Drink Better Coffee? Think About It as You Would Wine

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Lauren Mowery

A few months ago, I had a conversation with a respected wine journalist and Master of Wine that left me incredulous for this person's surprising attitude towards coffee. Asked to expound upon the significant parallels between both drinks, a nascent but certainly timely topic, this industry luminary quipped, "The only thing I care about in my coffee is that it is scalding hot." It wasn't a joke; it was declared almost indignantly. This writer might as well have told me their favorite beer in the world was Bud Light. Maybe this Mad Men-era opinion was earned after multiple decades in the wine industry, but I like to think not; and if you think this way, you are woefully out of date as well.

How could a wine lover and educator, a connoisseur of flavor and devotee to complexity and origin, nonchalantly dismiss another comparably complex, fragile, and nuanced liquid gift from the earth?

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The Elk Helps West Village Regain Its Mojo Via Coffee

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Lauren Mowery

For all the acclaim the West Village receives for its charm -- (dilapidated) cobblestone streets, (expensive) historic townhouses, and (overrated) Sarah Jessica Parker sightings -- the far western edge of the neighborhood has been surprisingly underserved in a multitude of realms, including coffee (and groceries, and gyms, and ethnic food). But this week, a new coffeehouse opens with the ambition of bringing quality beans and locally sourced goods back to the hood: The Elk (128 Charles Street, 212-933-4780) has (softly) debuted in the former Mojo space on Charles Street.

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Why You Should Go Taste Joe's Micro-Lot Coffee

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Lauren Mowery

One of New York's original coffee shops, Joe, is now offering three different Central American micro-lots every Monday and Saturday morning until sold out, but only at particular locations. As the name "micro-lot" implies, there are only so many bags of these unique coffees, so tasting these beans requires a little planning -- but Joe wants you to sip them all.

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Greenpoint's Champion Coffee Heads West to Meatpacking

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Up towards the north end of Greenpoint, Champion Coffee (1108 Manhattan Avenue, 718-383-5195) has been a neighborhood fixture, serving espresso-only coffee drinks and a fairly broad breakfast menu, since 2006. It's a great hangout for those working (or pretending to work) while utilizing wifi inside, or a good spot for actually relaxing out back on the patio.

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Birch Coffee Grows Into Small UES Space

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Lauren Mowery

In just two years, Midtown East has become one of the best neighborhoods in the city for specialty coffee -- to the point that writing that sentence has actually become redundant -- and now its influence is expanding beyond its borders. You can now find great coffee as far north as 62nd Street, thanks to Birch Coffee (134-1/2 East 62nd Street, no phone). Though technically an Upper East location, it's close enough to cubicle land to qualify as a coffee break destination.


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Nobletree Delivers Groundbreaking "Estate" Coffee

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Lauren Mowery
A New York original is set to enter the city's coffee scene. Helmed by a true New Yorker (OK, by way of New Jersey), Nobletree will introduce a new business model, advance the Red Hook revival, and upset the balance of the city's specialty coffee scene.

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Here's Hole in the Wall, a New Worthy Coffeeshop in Midtown

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Lauren Mowery
The aptly named Hole in the Wall (420 Fifth Avenue) coffee shop builds on several themes of New York's coffee growth in the last couple years: the proliferation of quality java spots in midtown and the dominance of Aussies opening them. In addition, the café may be continuing the trend of closet-sized specialty shops inside midtown office building common spaces, joining similarly tiny Bluestone Lane.

Hole in the Wall opened in mid-June, but Australian owner Barry Dry already ambitiously intends to expand the concept to another location in Midtown West (thankfully) before a third in the financial district.

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