One of the perks to going to school an hour north of NYC is that I occasionally get to venture into the city for an adventure or two. The problem is that the barriers to entry are large – logistics of where to stay, how to save money, and who to hang out with have prevented me from getting into the city nearly as often as I’d like. Today is one of those opportunities I rarely have – a free evening in New York City with little on my plate, and a hankering for good coffee.
Today I find myself at Bluebird Coffee Shop in East Village, Manhattan. Good coffee has slowly been seeping into this turf – one that until recently has been heavily steeped in the likes of Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. In March of 2010 the NYT ran an article titled “New York Is Finally Taking Its Coffee Seriously” where it outlined some of the quality coffee that was only then starting to pierce the veil of commodity coffee. One of the coffee shops covered in that article is Bluebird Coffee Shop, where I just ordered a standard latte.
Bluebird Coffee Shop is small, located on the corner of 1st Avenue and 1st Street in East Village. It has a bar that can be sat at from the inside or outside, and three small tables (they can fit your coffee or your laptop – not both). Half of the room is dedicated to the coffee bar and storage shelves in the back. They serve whatever is in season from Counter Culture, with several roasts for sale by the bag. Their menu is composed of espresso drinks and drip coffee. To my chagrin, no pour-overs are available. Still, the coffee is excellent, and the shots are pulled well. The environment is minimalist, the music is low but enchanting. It’s the type of place to stop while on your way elsewhere, not necessarily ideal to stop and smell the roses.
Since I’ve been sitting here, several locals have come in for an espresso shot and to discuss coffee with the barista. This is a place that depends on regulars.
Lattes are hard to make poorly, but equally as hard to make excellent. I ordered one because, well, I felt like one. That being said, it was excellent. And I don’t use that term lightly. The barista frothed the milk to exactly the right consistency, and the shots were pulled without flaw. The latte art was impeccable (I had already taken a sip in the picture on the right) and from the conversations the barista was having with customers I could tell he loves his craft.
While it was hard to tell the specific notes of the espresso due to the creamy and delicious milk, I could tell that they had light, fruity tones to them. Definitely nice for a summertime latte. I just got into town, and it was exactly what I needed after a day of flights and time change.
Bluebird Coffee Shop is worth visiting if you can make the trek to East Village or if you live nearby. A few notes: they have a $10 minimum for card swipes, but gladly accept cash. They have bags of freshly roasted Counter Culture for sale, and they also sell KeepCups (which I can personally endorse having used one for months). Additionally, wifi is free, as is people watching!
The Coffee Guy