One July weekend, I had the opportunity to combine two of my favorite activities -- riding my bike through Manhattan and visiting new coffee shops. My family was traveling elsewhere, and New York had not yet fallen into the drippy hot torpor that has marked recent days. I rode down the west side a bit, diverted to to the Hudson River trail, then passed through TriBeCa, Chinatown, SoHo and my old East Village stomping grounds before chugging up the East Side -- a loop of sorts.
I made a pass by La Colombe Torrefaction, but I had already tried beans from there via B. Koffie, so I decided to check out Kaffe 1668, one of the shops highlighted in The Times a couple of months ago. Coffee Guatemala Antigua Los Volcanes
Purchased July 3 at Kaffe 1668, 275 Greenwich St., TriBeCa.
Roasted on June 27 by Plowshares Coffee Roasters of Hillburn, N.Y.
Description Creamy body; delicate, clean acidity; milk chocolate and orange citrus; smooth, sweet, dry finish.
In the cup I picked out this particular coffee because I had not tried anything from this roaster before. In the shop, I had a coffee brewed expertly by the cup in a Clover press. That was a Panama variety from Denver-based Novo. Full bodied, and smooth, with a milk chocolate flavor, this coffee was delicious, as anything brewed in an $11,000 machine should be. I drank it hot, because that's how I like coffee, though it would have been a good day for cold brew, which was also available.
The shop, located across from a Whole Foods, adds some style and ambiance to an otherwise mall-like block of sterility downtown. The front opens out on the street, and there are interesting light fixtures and a communal wood table, where I sat. I was able to lock my bike within view on a low fence around a tree, and there was more ample bike parking across the street near the Whole Foods.
There's free WiFi with your purchase, which I used to browse the shop's Web site, with its entertaining cartoons. As best I can tell, Kaffe 1668 doesn't have its own roaster, but features beans from Intelligentsia and other high-end roasters like Novo.
I left with a bag of this Guatemalan strapped to my bike. The bag itself is an impressive bit of green-ish technology, made from paper with a ziplock that can be resealed.
Plowshares, which has an excellent Web site, gives this description: "Los Volcanes coffee is grown in the valley's rich volcanic soils that were formed by the three volcanoes (Agua, Acatenango, Fuego)... Most of the coffee here is cultivated at 1,500 - 1,700 meters above sea level which helps gives this coffee a pronounced acidity that is clean but not overpowering." The Antigua valley is a prime coffee growing region about 40 kilometers from the city of that name in Guatemala, according to Plowshares. The beans with this name come from 34 growers who banded together in a cooperative in 2000.
I have been drinking a regular cup or two brewed at home every morning for the last couple of weeks. I don't have any complaint about it, but it hasn't been bowling me over. It does pass my no-milk test, which means it is not overly acidic to my taste. The citrus didn't overwhelm me, which is sometimes a complaint I have with the single-origin coffees promoted by many coffee aficionados. It is remarkably light-bodied and smooth, which is good on these sweltering days, though I tend to prefer a fuller flavor and more than a trace of chocolate.
Still, it was well worth the ride.
Since I am still dabbling with social media, I also documented this trip on Foursquare and Posterous. And now I am promoting this Wordpress blog post on Facebook and Twitter. On some level, I suppose this is a longer, multi-platform version of the classic Twitter update, "I am eating a sandwich."
(Yes, I am drinking a cup of coffee.)