Six Coffeeshops Ideal for Writing in Queens

In his introduction for the Best Screenplay award at Sunday's Oscars, Robert DeNiro described writers as "crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy." True enough -- and how better to wade through that morass of debilitating doubt and paralyzing solipsism than with a strong cup of coffee and a hefty pastry? Brooklyn may be known as the most writerly borough, but Queens has up-and-coming literary cool -- along with coffee shops where you can torment yourself over a laptop for hours.

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Six Months' Worth of Coffee Beans

Bag numbers 19 (left) and 18 (right) were, respectively, Blue Bottle's Guatemala Maya Ixil, roasted in Brooklyn, and Four Barrel's Guatemala Antigua Santa Cruz, roasted in San Francisco.

I drink a lot of coffee at home, ground from beans right before being deposited in a French press. I saved the labels from the last six months, just to keep track of what I'd been drinking. The choices often reflect things that were readily available in coffee houses I frequent, and in a growing taste for Central American coffees. I used to think Intelligentsia (Chicago) was the best coffee roaster, but now I've found that Dallis Bros. (Queens) does just as good a job, as reflected in the Ninth Street Espresso bags. I'm also fond of Four Barrel, a San Francisco roaster I wish would open a branch here. The other 17 bags follow, moving backwards in time.

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You've Tried Caffe Capri's Celebrated Iced Coffee, Now Watch the Video

Fixture of Willamsburg's Italian neighborhood for 38 years

Riding a wave of Southern Italian immigration to Williamsburg that crested in the 1960s, Caffe Capri -- name checking an island at the mouth of the Bay of Naples popular with day-trippers -- opened February 14, 1974 on Graham Avenue. It peddled espresso beverages of an authenticity difficult to find at the time, and various packaged cookies and cakes from the old country.

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When Coffee Snobs Attack

Categories: Kaffee Klatsch


It was on my 6 a.m. train ride to work that I discovered with delight Sprudge's takedown of my last post, "How Not To Order Espresso." Sprudge, which I'd never heard of but admittedly now enjoy, is a site that focuses on coffee news and miscellany--and, apparently, writes critiques of other publications' coffee-related items. The meat of Sprudge's argument was that, being in the food service industry, baristas are meant to smile and silently suffer the indulgences of even the fussiest customers. "You're in the service industry!"--they write--"Your job is to serve, honey." They go on, telling me not to "queen out on behalf of the coffee industry." They were then kind enough to offer me a $100 check as incentive to quit coffee for good, which, given what I've done for less, is quite generous.

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How Not to Order Espresso

Categories: Kaffee Klatsch


As a barista in Brooklyn, I deal with all breeds of customers: the genuinely inquisitive, the indecisive, the stubborn. Then there are others -- the worst -- and they're much easier to spot. They always begin with a question: "What's the roast date of your beans?"

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Joe Fires Up the Roasters

Joe brings Guatemala to your press pot.

Walk around San Francisco's South Bay for a while, through Silicon Valley towns like Mountain View and Palo Alto, and you're likely to discover that many one-off local coffee shops have their own roasters right on the premises. Lack of space has made this phenomenon nearly impossible in the city, though many imported chains like Blue Bottle and Stumptown have set up roasting operations here. Now Joe: The Art of Coffee has started roasting its own beans, not exactly on the premises, but at Dallis Bros. -- New York's venerable coffee roaster in Queens, founded 1913 -- by celebrity roaster Ed Kaufmann, Joe's Director of Roasting.

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Espresso To Stay, Surfboard To Go?

Where do you intend to use that thing? Kips Bay?

New York real estate makes for some mighty screwy bedfellows. No sooner had coffee-bar-turned-restaurant Doma been unceremoniously ejected from its West Village digs at the corner of Perry Street and Waverly Place than the brown paper went up in the windows, and the space started incubating. The result was Saturdays Surf, another coffee bar -- but a coffee bar with a difference.

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Black Coffee Roasting Company Beans Arrive at Murray's

Certified organic, with the roasting date inked in by hand. Now that's artisanal!

If you're a coffee fanatic, it calls for a little celebration every time a new coffee roaster hits town. In the past couple of years, we've seen the arrival of Stumptown (Portland), Intelligentsia (Chicago), and Blue Bottle (Oakland/San Francisco); the formation of Oslo Coffee (Brooklyn) and Gorilla Coffee Roasters (Brooklyn); and the reinvigoration of the ancient Dallis Bros. Coffee (Queens). New long ago, Fork in the Road reported on the arrival of the legendary Ritual Coffee (San Francisco) at Murray's Cheese. Now the venerable cheese vendor has scoured the country and come up with another new brand of roasted beans from a surprising place.

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Blue Bottle, Part Two

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble!

Yesterday, I wrote about my first experience at West 15th Street's new Blue Bottle Coffee. I apologize for having been so interested in the pour-overs that I missed the espresso machine. The other observations and criticisms still stand, including my belief that the coffee was on the thin side, the premises without creature comforts, the usual constellation of milk and soy products not present, and the place, on the whole, pretentious. While looking for somewhere to sit down, I discovered a stranger and more interesting coffee establishment above and behind the one I'd just patronized, approached by a narrow stair. You have to know it's there, because there's no sign. (And no, I didn't read the press release.)

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Blue Bottle: Coffee as Crack

The sole output from Blue Bottle's downstairs is pour-overs -- no espressos! [Correction: There are espressos.]

When San Francisco's Blue Bottle Coffee hit town two years ago in the Williamsburg outback, it changed the paradigm of the coffee bar. As a friend said to me, peering into the place's expansive premises, "Hey, where's the seating?"

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