Date of Visit: Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.
IMPRESSIONS & ATMOSPHERE: Our good friends Jessie and Karl, experts in all things coffee-related, recommended Ninth Street Espresso as a top stop for coffee in New York City. I had loosely mapped a route to one of their other locations, but we stumbled upon this one in the Chelsea Market accidentally. The market was surprisingly quiet that morning, but Ninth Street was doing a brisk business. They seem to have the corner on coffee in the market, and rightfully so. I can’t imagine competing with them. Their location is near the middle of the market, and consists of a single wide-open curving counter. The menu is posted on the wall, the equipment is in plain view, and bags of coffee line the counter. You may purchase their coffee for home brewing; it’s custom brewed by Intelligentsia Coffee (one of the country’s best roasters).
FOOD: Ninth Street Espresso serves exactly seven things on their menu. You may not deviate, substitute, or otherwise question their policies. Their menu is as follows:
1. Espresso – triple shot, only served in porcelain (i.e. never to go)
2. Americano – 8 or 12 ounce
3. Macchiato – 3 ounce
4. Cappuccino – 8 ounce
5. Latte – 12 ounce
6. House Coffee – urn brewed, 8 or 12 once
7. Iced Coffee – cold infusion brewed, 16 ounce
Don’t you dare try ordering anything other than this menu.
Behold, the best espresso I’ve ever tasted. Just look at it. It was silky smooth, rich in flavor, not at all bitter, and just downright delicious. Whenever I’ve thought about coffee lately, this image always comes to mind.
SERVICE: Deliberately surly. Although I’ve heard this is part of the experience. Their coffee is amazing, they know it, and they will deign to let you purchase it from them. If you’re uber-sensitive to customer service, then be prepared. If you just want good coffee, don’t take it personally. While we visited, we actually saw two customers (I believe they were German) who handed their drinks back because they weren’t hot enough (differences in American and European serving styles?). We thought the baristas were going to explode, but they just dumped the drinks and remade them.
OVERALL: What can I say? It’s delicious coffee, the best espresso I’ve ever tasted, and one of the best cappuccinos. Go here if you’re in New York. If I lived there, I’d make Ninth Street my regular coffee stop. Maybe then they would come to recognize me and be nicer?
By the by, check out their website. It’s as simple as the shops, and so clearly made in iWeb on a Mac. Not that that’s a bad thing, I just find it funny.