Tag Archives: coffee

A Soho Reprieve at Saturdays Surf

A mock surf trophy lines the shelf at Soho's Saturdays Surf.

Just last week New York was hit with a sweltering heat wave that left many of us wishing for a day at the beach. While we may not always have the time for a trip to Coney Island or the Rockaways, it’s nice to have somewhere close that makes you feel as if you’re about to dive into the ocean.

Wet suits hang in the garden at Soho's Saturdays Surf.

Saturdays Surf, located on the eastern edge of Soho, is a laid-back espresso bar slash surf shop that acts as a meeting ground for New York City’s surfing socialites.

Retail at Saturdays Surf

Standing inside the shop (or their outdoor garden) is more reminiscent being in a beachside cabin than in the city. Surfboards line the entrance and surfing trophies mingle with the merchandise on shelves. The light even seems to come through the windows as if it were leaking through cracks in the wooden walls.

Shoes at Saturdays Surf

Retail at Saturdays Surf

The shop of course specializes in selling surf equipment and accessories, with a few racks of surfer stylish clothing mixed in. Canvas bags and sunglasses round out the store’s offerings.

Bags for Sale at Saturdays Surf

Racks of Clothing at Saturdays Surf

The espresso bar is the main draw for many, especially those that don’t surf. Saturdays uses La Colombe espresso for their cappuccinos and lattes. The cappuccino I had was one of the best I’ve had in some time.

Brewing La Colombe at Saturdays Surf

A couple of benches at the entrance make up the seating for the coffee shop, ensuring that you won’t find people typing away at their laptops here.

Coffee and Boards at Saturdays Surf

More surfboards and wetsuits hang along the fence in the expansive backyard area. Planters, seemingly made out of driftwood freshly picked off the beach, are filled with flowers more fitting to SoCal than to Soho. The scattered bikes and boards give the feeling that a beach party might erupt at any moment.

Bikes and Boards in the Garden at Saturdays Surf

The Garden at Saturdays Surf

The only thing that sends you back to reality is stepping back out onto Crosby Street and feeling pavement against your feet, rather than sand between your toes.

-Ryan

Saturdays Surf on Crosby Street

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Behind the Beans at Stumptown

Over the weekend I made a visit to the Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ plant in Red Hook, Brooklyn, to see how they turn green coffee from farms all over the world into some of the best coffee out there.

While I was there, I met Ed Kaufmann, one of the roasters, who was happy to show me the minutiae of coffee roasting.

The process starts with the green coffee beans. These beans are delivered from the farms in big burlap sacks that crowd much of the warehouse’s space.

First, the beans are siphoned into the roasting machine, a German Probat from the 1950s, complete with retro control panels, straight out of a sci-fi film. The roaster, powered by natural gas, gets up to a stifling 400 degrees while the beans tumble around within its steel walls. It, understandably, gets a bit loud during this part, so Ed hands me a pair of earmuffs.

The next 15 minutes are a combination of timing and intuition on Ed’s part. He constantly checks the beans for the right color and the perfect aroma. Once he’s satisfied with the roast, the beans are released into the cooling tray where they are spun around by steel brushes until they reach room temperature. Finally, the beans are ejected into plastic barrels to be scooped out into individual bags and prepared for shipping.

The process seems so simple—it takes less than 20 minutes—but without experience, most of us would end up with a batch of badly burned beans.

In addition to roasting beans in Red Hook, Stumptown recently opened up a tasting room in the front. The room itself is beautiful, with lots of rustic wood and industrial metal throughout.

Not unlike a tasting room at a winery, the Stumptown tasting room allows visitors to select from up to 18 varietals of coffee and four different brewing methods, including pour-over, Chemex, AeroPress, and French pressed—all freshly roasted, of course.

You won’t find any espresso machines here, and if you want milk or sugar, you’re out of luck. It’s so good you may not miss any of those things, either. This tasting room is all about the expression of coffee.

If you’re nervous that you can’t get your double tall half-caf skim latte, you shouldn’t be alarmed—the baristas are all incredibly friendly and will help you find a cup to suit your tastes.

They also sell various brewing equipment for home use, so if you absolutely must have your own Chemex or AeroPress (skim latte, be damned), you’re in luck.

I rode my bike across the Brooklyn Bridge in 90 degree weather to drink hot coffee, which should speak volumes to Stumptown’s appeal. Although, if you go this summer, get a cab. You’ll thank me later.

-Ryan

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Sunday Brunch At Double Crown

DIY Bloody Mary Bar

Despite the grey morning, our adventurous spirit was intact as we headed to brunch in the East Village. Today, we tried Double Crown, the sister restaurant of our perennial favorite, Public. Double Crown is nestled on the Bowery, just a few steps away from another favorite, Peels, and only a few blocks away from Public.

The Bar at Double Crown

Upon entering, the first thing we noticed was how wide open Double Crown is, which is contrary to the twists and turns of Public’s space. Double Crown is a massive dining room, filled with Edison bulb chandeliers, rich teak wood, and neon lights, for good measure. The restaurant, in its British-Indio-Asian glory, was designed by AvroKO, the same design team behind S&R favorites Public and Quality Meats.

Downstairs at Double Crown

The lush design continues downstairs. When you descend, you’re greeted by a tranquil sitting room at the bottom of the stairs, complete with flowers floating in a vessel and a comfy red leather chair. There is also a large private dining room downstairs. The hallway leading to the restrooms is truly captivating, as it is covered, floor-to-ceiling, with the most intricately carved wood.

Wood Carved Walls

Sitting Room at Double Crown

The food served by Chef Brad Farmerie—a wild fusion of British and southeast Asian cuisine—is every bit as good as the space itself.

Flowers And Coffee

Double Crown Fruit Salad

We both started out with a bowl of mixed fruit salad which included blueberries, clementines, grapefruit, mangos, and pomelos, top with pickled watermelon. The fruit, served in a decorative bowl, was market-fresh and the perfect blend of sweet and sour.

Pork Belly With Fried Egg

Burger And Bottlerocket

For our main courses, we had the crispy pork belly, served on steamed rice with chili-caramel, mint and a fried egg, and the New York Strip steak burger, served with massive fries of daikon radish, cut into flawless rectangular prisms and stacked like Lincoln Logs.

The pork belly was fork-tender and set off perfectly by the chili’s spice, the caramel’s sweetness and the pungent mint. The burger was a tender, meaty puck, served on a bun that would put the most elaborate “everything” bagel to shame.

Scented Grapefruit Collins and Pimm's No. 1 Cup

For drinks, we had the Scented Grapefruit Collins and the Pimm’s No. 1 Cup. If you can’t already tell, we are big fans of the Pimm’s Cup—this one, accented with strawberries, did not disappoint. The Collins had Belvedere pink grapefruit vodka, Campari, Earl Grey syrup, mint and lemon, topped with soda.

We also had a Bottlerocket, which was the favorite of the trio we sampled. Pernod Absinthe, layered with pineapple, white cranberry, maple-grenadine, and topped with sparkling wine—a really stellar combination.

DIY Bloody Mary

Lastly, we took a shot at their famous do-it-yourself Bloody Mary bar, which greets you as you first enter the restaurant. They provide you with a glass of vodka and you proceed to add as much tomato juice, lemon juice, coriander, grated ginger, piccalilli, caper berries, celery salt, Chinese black vinegar, Sriracha, Worcestershire sauce, pink peppercorns, and star anise as you can pile into your glass. Did you get all that? (And that’s not even a complete list.)

We came away with a concoction that wasn’t so spicy that we had to sweat through it for half an hour, but still had some decent heat in it. It was entertaining to watch other patrons try to make exactly what they wanted, given such an overwhelming ingredient list.

Double Crown’s food and attentive service will absolutely be worth checking out again, and the space is worth the price of admission alone. Although it may not replace the sentimental spot that Public has in our hearts, we would definitely be interested in moving in permanently should a room ever open up.

– Ryan and Laura

In the interest of full disclosure, Double Crown kindly invited us to dine on them today. However, our food and service was still top-notch and we recommend them whole-heartedly, without reservations.

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San Francisco: Blue Bottle

While in San Francisco, it was important to me that we went on a tour of San Francisco’s many talked about coffee shops. I eventually determined that Blue Bottle—which recently opened a location in Brooklyn—was my favorite.

We met up with my friend Clay and his dog Charlie for a cup at the Mint Plaza location.

Laura and Charlie

I had a Siphon Pot of their Sulawesi Toarco Jaya Peaberry which was super rich and dark. Almost woodsy.

I can’t wait to try out the Brooklyn location upon returning home.

– Ryan

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