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My fantastic coffee voyage (part 3)...

September 19, 2011

Apparently, I was incorrect in saying that my next stop was the Mainline Coffee Stand in my previous post (it's been edited out).  As it turns out, its called the High Line Coffee Stand located above Chelsea Market.  Which makes sense given that it's located on the High Line.  The High Line is former railroad segment, now a walkway that sits atop several Chelsea buildings and extends to several other neighborhoods, too.  It's really beautiful.  There's a canopy overlooking the Hudson River, rustic wooden benches, diverse greenery scattered about, a number of small vendors selling everything from fresh fruit popsicles to hotdogs, and some gorgeous architectural trappings (I was really impressed by a water sculpture seeping through the ground).  Some New York natives even tend to gardens built on the pathway.  If I were opening a coffee stand outside, this is where it'd be.




The High Line Coffee Stand serves up Blue Bottle Coffee exclusively (it may even be owned by them).  Everything is roasted over in Brooklyn and brought over pretty regularly. I even bought an 8 oz. bag of their Hayes Valley espresso blend that was only one day post-roast. I'm not sure I've ever gotten commercial beans with that kind freshness. The stand, itself, was pretty barebones, but it had its charms. I especially liked having the pour-over stand up in front. There's some cool pageantry involved with manual pour-overs like the fancy Hario Tea Kettle, the thick blobs of coffee dropping out of the paper filter and into the cup, and the crazy-8 pouring motion of the barista. A lot of the foreign tourists seemed especially impressed (while the Americans were asking where their coffee is at).

Not the Blue Bottle set-up exactly, but you get the picture (literally)

Of course, I had an espresso.  Someone had asked what size shot the baristas at 9th Street were pulling in my previous post's comments section.  Well, every place I visited, including Blue Bottle, seemed to be pulling triple shot ristrettos, which means 21 grams of coffee and only about 1.5 to 2 ounces of actual espresso.  As a result, all of these locations produce thick (think slightly diluted honey), potent shots.  With regards to Blue Bottle, their Hayes Valley is really delicious, but not as good as 9th Street's Alphabet City shot, which I'd had only 20 minutes earlier. It's almost unfair to compare any of these shots to 9th Street's because I'm pretty sure my Alphabet City was an elusive 'god shot.' These only happen once in a blue moon. Anyway, the Hayes Valley had a similar sour/astringent note to begin with, but didn't open up nearly as much as the Alphabet City. There was some minor sweetness towards the finish, but it felt much more one note.  It reminded me of Counter Culture's current iteration of Apollo, which I actually felt was sweeter than the Hayes Valley. Again, the Blue Bottle shot was delicious, but I'll bet it has the potential to be even better. This just wasn't its day.

    

Blue Bottle makes some delicious coffee.  As of today, I think I prefer their drip coffee to their espresso, but that's not to say the latter is bad.  In fact, they're both pretty great.  After Blue Bottle, I really really needed a break from caffeine, so my last stop, Cafe Grumpy (redux!), had to wait for a while.






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