People I know who have spent time in the Portland area have raved about Stumptown Coffee for years. They roast the beans right in the store! Nothing on the East Coast compares! So after the second-day-of-school parents' breakfast on Friday, my wife and I tagged along through the rain when another parent suggested we walk over to the new Stumptown outlet in the Ace Hotel in an area that some people are trying to call SoMa (for "South of Macy's") in the high 20s off Broadway. The shop was nicely appointed, with a classic feel, more upscale than your average grungy coffee shop. The baristas wore neckties and jaunty hipster hats (which were mocked by some on Twitter when I posted a quick slideshow on Posterous).
The service was great. This is not one of those places where people linger over laptops. There are no chairs, which keeps people from lingering too long. Diner's Journal declares the shop's style to be distinctly New York.
My wife ordered a soy decaf latte, which she declared to be just fine. She's not a big coffee fan.
I had a house espresso, which was tasty and as good as shots pulled at Cafe Grumpy and Ninth Street Espresso, my other favorite Manhattan coffee haunts. Was it better? No, sorry, Stumptown fans. Something else was missing: Unlike in Portland, the beans are not roasted on the premises. Stumptown imports the beans and roasts them locally in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
I ended up spending my last dollar on this bag of beans from Costa Rica, because Stumptown wasn't taking credit cards. Dudes, nobody carries money in New York anymore.
Name Montes de Oro
Origin: San Pablo de Tarrazu, Costa Rica
Roasted: Sept. 6 by Stumptown Coffee.
Purchased: Sept. 11 at Stumptown in the Ace Hotel at 18 West 29th Street and Broadway, Manhattan.
Description From the excellent, detailed Stumptown Web site (includes video): "Rainier cherry and clementine orange flavors meld harmoniously with sweet notes of honey, caramel and milk chocolate."
In the cup There was no real description on the bag, so I went with my gut, having had good experiences with Costa Rican coffees (tthough not always). I definitely got lucky. First of all, if you've read my past entries, you'll know I tend to have a sweet tooth when it comes to coffee.
This coffee is delicious and left me feeling warm on this chilly, damp Saturday morning before I took my daughter to her gymnastics class, where I'm taking advantage of the free WiFi at Chelsea Piers upstairs to write this post during the class. I have a great view of my kid walking backward on the balance beam. I'm also playing Calexico on the iPhone because the chattering parents around me are making me a little nuts. My multitasking life.
Stumptown reports: "The producers behind Montes de Oro, Emilio and Laura Gamboa, cultivate their coffee in San Pablo de Tarrazu. Emilio personally oversees the processing each and every night of the harvest. He ensures strictly ripe cherry and fully washes it with INGESEC technology. The coffee is gently dried on African beds, which provides time for sugar development." Oh, just go watch the video.
Other reviewers of this coffee, including the 2008 vintage, have described it as fruitier -- pineapple, thistle and kiwi? Maybe a little clementine orange in there? I didn't pick up on any of that. Maybe those flavors come out in a regular coffee. I made this as espresso in the Jura and was grooving on the caramel, honey and chocolate. Sweet, but not too sweet.
I highly recommend this one, and I guess I'll have to leave some extra time now and then for another side trip to Stumptown to try some of the others. They had a whole assortment.