Coffee fuels the city that never sleeps. Unfortunately, most of it is terrible. But there are exceptions. It would be unfair to not give Starbucks tremendous credit for raising awareness of coffee and its many forms; however, most of its products remain heavily sugared and over-diluted with milk, cream, and syrups. It's become fast-food drinkable dessert. And even assuming that its beans are of decent quality, its computerized machines over-extract them while many of its unskilled "baristas" continue to flip on the milk steamer and walk away to help other customers, leaving the milk burnt and undrinkable. What was once a trendy logo to carry in your hand is now a red flag for poor taste.
However, a better educated coffee-craving public now has higher demands that Starbucks cannot fulfill in its current form. For this new demand, boutiquecoffeeshops have been opening up and thriving. So much so, in fact, that Starbucks has been opening unbranded, clandestine shops with a community feel to trick consumers into thinking they're local shops. But no matter how hard they try, it will be hard to emulate what's available at Joe the Art of Coffee on Waverly.
In looking back at my summer in New York, this small corner shop at 141 Waverly is the one place I kept re-visiting over and over again. Not only is this the best espresso in New York; but frankly, it's better than anything I've had in Italy. I can't get enough of it.
Espresso here is really a misnomer, since all shots are double ristrettos; instead of 7 grams of ground beans extracted for 25 seconds, 14 grams are extracted in the same amount of time. The net effect is half the stress on each bean resulting in a richer, rounder, thicker pull with more of the natural oils. The resulting taste is of rich dark chocolate and caramel with an intoxicating scent of butter popcorn.
I have noticed that each barista here leaves his own unique signature on the coffee. But whether you get more or less milk in a cappuccino or a heart versus an olive branch in a macchiato really comes down to preference: all the barristas here are highly trained and skillful. Granted the La Marzocco equipment used here, accurate to 0.1 degrees farenheit, narrows the possibility of error a bit. But great coffee is no easy task, and consistently great coffee, as found here, requires the unique blend of deft barristas, great beans, and careful machinery, everything which can be found only here at Joe's.