My top 5 coffee recommendations for New York

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It is the biggest struggle that most Australians visiting New York face from their very first morning in the Big Apple, and it strikes more fear into travelling adults then jet lag – it’s not being able to find a decent coffee in New York (or America at large for that matter).

Americans, and hotels in America, have this fascination with drip coffee. It seems to be what drives their world and if they ever do decide to deviate from their traditional Cup of Joe it tends to be to the opposite end of the spectrum, just imagine some cold caffeine infused ice-cream sundae type arrangement called a mocha-frappe-latte. Ok, I may have over indulged myself a little bit but it is not uncommon for most travelling adults to instinctively give up coffee for the during of their trips to America, and not by choice, but by not being able to stand the quality of coffee available.

I too was one of these poor souls who struggled to come to grips without being able to start the day with either a half decent Cappuccino or afternoon piccolo to get me through the next meeting or before meeting my wife after her afternoon of shopping!

My last cup of decent coffee generally came way of a polite request to a flight attendant after breakfasts had been delivered on my Qantas flights from Australia to Los Angeles. Once delivered I would enjoy the aroma and chocolate dusting knowing it would be a couple of weeks before I could enjoy a decent brew again.

Last decent cup of coffee, care of Qantas First Class en-route to Los Angeles

One interesting conversation I had with a flight attendant between Los Angeles and New York on QF11 revolved around coffee and that even he struggled to find good coffee, even though he had been coming to New York for the better part of 15 years. He made a very interesting observation that when he and his colleagues attempted to make a flat white or Cappuccino for business or first class passengers the milk that is supplied in Los Angeles does not froth as well as what we get in Australia – so most Cappuccino’s he made often turned out like Flat White’s anyway!

During my most recent New York adventure in September this year, I made sure that I put some time aside to research and then visit some cafes that had been set up or run by Australian expat barristers to see if I could finally lay to rest one of the biggest frustrations of travelling to New York – that I could get a decent coffee.

I am pleased to report that I have now managed to find 2 new favourite café’s in New York that make a very good Cappuccino. I am by no means a coffee aficionado but I can tell the difference between a smooth coffee that has had its milk frothed to the correct temperature and the coffee hasn’t been burnt beyond all recognition. Here is what I found:

Two Hands Café

Little Italy
164 Mott Street, New York
Website: twohandsnyc.com
Hours Monday 8:00am – 6:00pm
  Tuesday 8:00am – 6:00pm
  Wednesday 8:00am – 6:00pm
  Thursday 8:00am – 6:00pm
  Friday 8:00am – 6:00pm
  Saturday 8:00am – 6:00pm
  Sunday 8:00am – 6:00pm
 
Background

A couple of ex Sydney-siders have set up shop in Little Italy on the fringe of Chinatown and have set out to bring the Australian coffee culture to downtown Manhattan.

As well as delicious coffee’s the team at Two Hands make spectacular meals to make it my Number 1 cafe in New York.

 

Little Collins

Midtown East
667 Lexington Avenue, New York
Website: littlecollinsnyc.com
Hours Monday 7:00 am – 5:00pm
  Tuesday 7:00 am – 5:00pm
  Wednesday 7:00 am – 5:00pm
  Thursday 7:00 am – 5:00pm
  Friday 7:00 am – 5:00pm
  Saturday 8:00am – 4:00pm
  Sunday 8:00am – 4:00pm
 
Background

Bringing a taste of Melbourne, from you guessed it, Little Collins Street to Midtown. This cafe transplants the heart of Melbourne’s coffee culture to the Big Apple.

If you need a taste of home for breakfast, just ask for The Convict and you’ll soon be enjoying some Vegemite toast in the heart of New York.

 

What my research uncovered was that there has been somewhat of an explosion of Australian influence in the New York café scene with more and more expats getting involved and educating our American friends as to what constitutes a good coffee. One of the most surprising names on the list is actor Hugh Jackman. He has set up a foundation, Laughing Man Foundation, which partners with Ethiopian coffee farmers to promote entrepreneurship, education and community through the premise that The coffee you drink can change the world.

I had managed to find two other cafes with Australian heritage, however time was not on my side on this trip and was unable to get taste first hand how their coffee was, however after reading a number of online reviews it seems that they too are flying the Australian coffee flag and changing minds across New York.

Bluestone Lane

Midtown (near Bryant Park)
1114 Avenue of the Americas, New York
Website: bluestonelaneny.com
Hours Monday 6:30am – 8:00pm
  Tuesday 6:30am – 8:00pm
  Wednesday 6:30am – 8:00pm
  Thursday 6:30am – 8:00pm
  Friday 6:30am – 8:00pm
  Saturday 9:00am – 5:00pm
  Sunday 9:00am – 5:00pm
 
Background

Another New York cafe taking its lead from Melbourne, Bluestone Lane is taking the game of great coffee to the American’s. Having recently opened its 4th store in Midtown (near Bryant Park) Bluestone Lane is perfect for an early morning pick-up or mid-afternoon coffee run between Midtown attractions, museums and shopping.

 

Toby’s Estate

Brooklyn
125 N 6th St, Brooklyn
Website: tobysestate.com
Hours Monday 7:00am – 7:00pm
  Tuesday 7:00am – 7:00pm
  Wednesday 7:00am – 7:00pm
  Thursday 7:00am – 7:00pm
  Friday 7:00am – 7:00pm
  Saturday 8:00am – 8:00pm
  Sunday 8:00am – 8:00pm
 
Background

Australian’s can feel a sense of familiarity with Toby’s Estate, the Australian based coffee brewer opened his first New York store in Brooklyn in 2012 and has gone from strength to strength.

Now offering 4 locations across Manhattan, their New York flagship shop in Brooklyn still features their own Brewhouse school of coffee making.

 

Laughing Man Cafe

TriBeCa
184 Duane St, New York
Website:
Hours Monday 6:30am – 7:00pm
  Tuesday 6:30am – 7:00pm
  Wednesday 6:30am – 7:00pm
  Thursday 6:30am – 7:00pm
  Friday 6:30am – 7:00pm
  Saturday 7:00am – 7:00pm
  Sunday 7:00am – 7:00pm
 
Background

Laughin Man Cafe is the result of a promise that Australian actor (and favourite son) Hugh Jackman made to an Ethiopian coffee farmer when Jackman discovered this man’s story and coffee.

The Laughing Man cafe also forms part of the foundation Hugh Jackman set up to help Ethiopian farmers increase their quality of life and that of their communities.

If you have your own New York coffee story or recommendation let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

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