Updated: Apr 24, 2019
For the past few months, my life has been dedicated to a single goal: finding the best espresso within a two-mile radius of Washington Square Park. Basically every waking second of my day has been spent dreaming of that sublime first sip of the perfectly bitter, slightly sweet, and impossibly rich taste that only can be achieved by espresso. In my months-long search, I have visited what feels like nearly every cafe, coffee shop, espresso bar, and hole-in-the-wall that has an espresso machine so I can tell you, yes you, where you can go to get some of the best espresso New York has to offer.
While my drink of choice is the cortado, which I believe has the perfect mix of intense espresso flavor and rich creaminess from the steamed milk, you can be certain that any espresso-based drink you get at these spots will be great. Now, in no particular order, here are my top picks for the best espresso you can get near campus.
With two locations close to campus, one right behind Kimmel on Sullivan Street, and one over in the East Village on Second Ave, Third Rail is my go-to spot for a quick espresso fix in between classes. The space is so small that the heat produced by the espresso machine fogs up my glasses every time I walk in, but that doesn’t diminish the sheer quality of the drinks produced by the baristas here, who are also some of the friendliest people. Just like the temperature, the vibe here is warm and welcoming.
You won’t find a better place where you can either grab your cappuccino and run to your next class, or hang out for a while and talk to some people who are as passionate about coffee as you are.
Okay, if you know me, you know that I really love Abraço, like really really love it. If it’s a Sunday morning, there is a 95% chance you’ll be able to find me there with a cortado in one hand and a book in the other (and a slice of their olive oil cake on the table). This place is, without hyperbole, the best espresso bar I have ever been to, mostly because of the insanely good espresso they make, but also because of how nice it is to just be there.
As the line wraps around the bar, the sultry jazz tones and the chatter of old friends fill the space. This place is old school; they’re cash only, have a no-laptop policy, and no wifi, but sometimes it’s nice to get away from your school work and just chill for a couple of hours. The espresso is incredibly rich and flavorful and all of their delicious pastries are homemade in the back of the shop. You would be hard-pressed to come up with a better place to spend your weekend mornings. Abraço is without a doubt my happy place, and if you go, I promise that it will become yours too.
When I had been asking around for recommendations on places to go in my search, I was told that for an espresso purist, there is no better place than Ninth Street Espresso, and so I set out. It was a cold January morning when I made the pilgrimage over to the original East 9th St. and Avenue C location of Ninth Street Espresso. I was greeted with a delightfully simple menu, with only four items: Hot Coffee, Cold Coffee, Espresso, and Espresso w/ Milk. Being the cortado addict that I am, I opted for the espresso with milk and let me tell you, it was one of the greatest sips of espresso of my life. While it is a bit of a trek from Washington Square Park, if you’re serious about espresso, you won’t find a better place for it.
The City of Saints location on East 10th St. was on my way to class every day last semester, and while my wallet was not a huge fan of it, my tastebuds absolutely loved my daily morning cappuccino. This is one of the few places where they know my name and would start making my usual order as soon as I walked in. In all of my “research” these past few months, I haven’t been going nearly as much as I used to and it feels a little like I've been cheating on them. The drinks here are just so good and consistent. It’s always a safe bet when you want a nice caffeine kick to get you through your 8 A.M. while also enjoying some of the best espresso the East Village has to offer.
I drank a lot of good espresso during these past few months, and this is the list I came up with, but I’m sure each of you has your own favorite places. At this point, I'm pretty much addicted to espresso and will travel far and wide to any place recommended to me. I feel so lucky to live in a place that has so many incredible options for such high-quality coffee and espresso, and encourage you to try all of the good stuff this city has to offer.
Photos by Bite Club Staff
Originally published by Spoon University.