12 April 2010

Finally, real coffee in New York

Reported in the New York Times on 9 March 2010, New Yorkers are finally getting the real taste of coffee.

The difference between a cup of coffee from these new style coffee bars and what was available before is striking.

These shops use only beans that have been roasted in the past 10 days (though some say two weeks is fine), so the flavors are still lively.

The beans are ground to order for each cup. Certain coffee bars have a skyline of grinders: one for espresso, one for decaffeinated espresso, one for brewed coffee. If they offer more than one variety of espresso bean, that gets its own grinder, too.

Milk is steamed to order for each macchiato or latte. A telltale sign is an arsenal of smaller steam pitchers, instead of one big one.

And coffee bars reaching for the highest rung use only manual espresso machines run by baristas who, in the past three years, have been able to attend classes given by the leading roasting companies in the intricacies of these devices. Many chain stores are turning to automatic machines with preset levels for coffee, temperature and timing.

The article also provides a list of cafes serving real coffee.

Melbourne has been the centre of Australian cafe and coffee culture for many years and Melburnians are now taking their expertise to New York. Reported in The Age

Melburnian Alexander Hall who previously managed St Kilda's Cafe Racer and Il Fornaio, reckons New Yorkers still have plenty to learn.

''The New York coffee scene is similar to Melbourne in 1985. When I moved here about six years ago, there was virtually nowhere that served quality espresso coffee. I originally planned to pick up an idea here and then move back to Melbourne to cash in.

''But I realised there was a huge opportunity here because nothing in New York compared to our cafes,'' Mr Hall says.

He opened The Milk Bar in Brooklyn last year and is looking for another site in Manhattan.

All rather strange really as Melbourne's cafe and coffee culture arose from Italian migrants. They preserved this culture and promoted it to the wider Australian community in Melbourne. New York also has a high Italian migrant population but somehow they lost it.

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