tbsp (Spoon) – New York

In the spring we met with a broker to find our new home in New York. He had a line up of places and a driver. After a hectic few hours in Chelsea the driver dropped us off and our broker said ‘coffee’? I’d tried to drop hints throughout the morning that I was coffee snob and we’d been plopped at 6th and 23rd and I had no idea what was around there – his suggestion, ‘Spoon’. Apparently good.

Tbsp Cafe

It looked like a little New York deli-cafe, I was a bit suspicious. Don’t judge a spoon by it’s cover! It was a typical salad/sandwich place with people lining up for plastic boxes of take out, but they had Stumptown beans so some hope … declined somewhat as we got closer to the register and I couldn’t see any 8oz cups and once we’d ordered and moved down nearer the machine, this rather alarming sign on the bean hopper …

Tbsp Cafe

… shouldn’t that say ‘Refill at start of day’?

However, despite the beans possibly sitting around for a day and the giant 12oz cappuccino with a bit to much air on top it was a surprisingly good temperature and flavor – I definitely drank most of it. The ginger snap cookie accompaniment was not too gingery, and was nice and moist. Something to remember if desperate and in that area and probably quite a good spot for lunch in the end.

Tbsp Cafe

Tbsp Cafe

Spoon & tbsp, 17 West 20th street (between 5th and 6th avenues) @Spoonfednyc

Visited: April 2013

Curbside Coffee – San Francisco

One cool November day I was working at home, drizzle was threatening and I didn’t think I’d have time to get down to the Ferry Building for a coffee. But I thought I’d try – and if the drizzle or rain did come, I thought I’d stop off at Curbside Coffee, a truck I’d seen parked on Spear Street during a week day once before. Food trucks are a San Francisco staple so I did hold a glimmer of hope that the coffee would be drinkable. And it did have a table of condiments, social media badges, an actual coffee machine and white cups with a hand stamped logo.

Curbside Coffee

There were a few people milling around and regulars who didn’t need to order because the barista knew them.

I should’ve trudged on through the rain (yes, by the time I got there drizzle was turning to rain) to the Ferry Building. They didn’t have 8oz cups – if only I’d been able to spot that without having to ask then being stuck in that awkward situation when they said no … a turmoil trying to summon the courage to exclaim ‘What?! How can you make me a proper cappuccino then? Just forget it” but instead being too embarrassed, knowing that you’re not actually desperate enough for any old coffee to drink theirs and the drip at home is better, but instead saying “OK, I’ll have a latte please.” Eyeroll. So that’s what I got. A giant mug-o-searing watery latte which I had 2 sips out of when it had finally cooled after 3 blocks but carried all the way home (because I like carrying coffee (makes me feel all bouncy and famous like Ally McBeal)) only to tip it down the sink and make myself a drip coffee. I’ve since read on Yelp that Vietnamese iced coffee is the drink of choice for regulars and they rate it pretty highly.

Curbside Coffee

Shame their Twitter account is nothing more than a stream of dates they’ll be closed.

Curbside Coffee, 298 Spear St, San Francisco @curbsidesf

London coffee map

As well as asking friends for coffee recommendations in London I did my usual online search. We created a map in Google Maps but not knowing whether or not we’d have data on our phones while there I went armed with an old-school map as well. Post-it notes in the A-Z of London!

London coffee map

With one sip of good coffee …

In our search for coffee shops for our upcoming trip to London we came across this great statement on the website of Taylor Street Baristas, a cafe recommended by a friend in London. Awesome!

The first time you have a really good coffee can be a bit of a curse. With one sip, your expectations are radically transformed. All other coffee is ruined for you. Coffee shops that used to prop up every corner of every city block soon reveal themselves to be mere pretenders: the blind serving the blind.  Purveyors of limp and burnt and watery coffee.

With one sip, your coffee options dwindle to a precious few: a mere handful of skilled baristas capable of meeting your newly enlightened needs.

Yours is a wretched plight, indeed.  For those who inhabit this lonely world, we welcome you to our humble little corner of the web: a place where real coffee lovers can gather around and share and console and learn from each other.

Will track them down and let you know what we think of the coffee!

Hills Bros Coffee

Every day we look out at the lovely Bay Bridge but also at the orangey brick building that once housed Hills Bros Coffee. Haven’t tried the coffee myself, not sure I’d like it, but I do like the building 🙂

Thanksgiving Day 2011

Then last week got this photo from Father! They were visiting a friend who brought this tin out of the cupboard when they asked for coffee – apparently a friend of hers 40 years ago visiting San Francisco brought her back ‘some decent coffee from San Francisco’ and she’s been using the tin all these years!

hills_tin 575

Making my own cappuccino

What a special treat! And on a real 4-group La Marzocco. But that’s all I can say – I’ve deleted everything I was going to write and show because it’s come to my attention that some authorities here might frown upon the fact that I touched a cafe’s coffee machine.

That is all.

Coffee with some orange rocks

Bad sound quality but I was rather embarrassed sitting on the cafe’s patio recording myself … I was the strangest girl on the bus tour I’m sure so talking to oneself probably acceptable, but still, I was muttering and not projecting. Sedona is COOL – more photos later.

Manhattan coffee map

Forgot to post this picture of the awesome Manhattan coffee map that The Mister found for me – we’ve been to loads of the places too! Must get it framed for the kitchen wall.

Manhattan Coffee Map

2011 – Top 10 coffee shops

Without diplomacy or agenda, based on taste & consistency, these are the best places I’ve had coffee in 2011.

  1. Ninth Street Espresso Chelsea Market – New York
  2. Customs Brew Bar – Wellington
  3. Blue Bottle Ferry – San Francisco
  4. Stumptown Ace Hotel – New York
  5. Blue Bottle Mint – San Francisco
  6. Public Domain – Portland
  7. RBC NYC – New York
  8. People’s Garage – Wellington
  9. Stumptown Roasters – Portland
  10. Fuel Espresso Willis – Wellington

Coffee travel kit

Prior to going to Las Vegas for a conference I organized myself a coffee travel kit including the only TSA-approved travel grinder – a thing of brushed steel and ceramic beauty (the Porlex mini hand grinder purchased from Blue Bottle)! I’ve got to know a seasoned traveling saleswoman who told me that I’d never be able to find coffee in Las Vegas and that when she drove to conferences there from her home in Orange County, she took her own coffee maker!

What a life saver. I used it there quite a bit after developing skills for finding a cup of hot water somewhere, also not easy to find in Las Vegas!

Coffee addict's travelling kit

For your reference:

At a terrible bar or casino coffee shop you can tell a story about an icky tummy, or put on a flu-liked blocked nose in desperate need of a sachet flu drink, and get a takeaway cup of boiling water; with a confident walk and clipboard or leather-bound work pad with your phone to your ear because you’re too busy to stop and talk, you can mingle in the crowd at a conference or trade show (there’s always one happening somewhere in a hotel in Las Vegas) and get a cup of boiling water out of one of their urns; in the hotel you can order a breakfast and specify a pot of boiling water – this is all possible but the trick is to remember you need 2 cups, one full, one empty, might mean stashing a cup from an earlier score!

Sleeter Conference Las Vegas