I'm honored to bring you to the next stop on the NYC Coffeehouse Tour, this time touching the outer edges of Harlem on the West side of Manhattan - a little treasure buried beneath a Hamilton Heights shop, called The Chipped Cup.
Making their debut less than a year ago, this coffeehouse deserves mad respect for bringing quality coffee affection to this neighborhood. I have to give you a side note really quick, because this comes up in conversation all of the time uptown where I live - WHY is their no single noteable coffeehouse from 149th street to 187th street on the West side of Manhattan? And seriously - if it weren't for The Chipped Cup moving in you'd need to travel another 20+ blocks South before making it to any coffeehouse worth stopping into!
From the moment I entered The Chipped Cup, I felt the familiar Seattle Coffeehouse vibe that brings me immediately back to the nostalgia of living in the best place on Earth....for coffee that is. Everything about the atmosphere - from the partially exposed brick wall to the distressed wood tables, made this seemingly small space immediately cozy and inviting.
I got into my usual chatting with the baristas to find out the details on the coffee roasters, the space and what kind of specialties they might be able to offer up. For my palate I ordered a double espresso and a Papa New Guinea blend drip coffee. I got a little fancy and ordered the Pumpkin Spice latte after the charming barista sold me on their homemade recipe. Before leaving the counter I noticed an enticing looking pastry, an almond croissant, but the name doesn't do it justice.
The double espresso, was at first glance slightly confusing - no more than an ounce of liquid, hardly seemed accurate in size for a double, however; their was an assurance that this was most certainly a double and there was a lovely crema on top anxiously waiting to be enjoyed. The espresso was dark bold and intense followed by a smooth balanced finish, a pleasant surprise.
The Papa New Guinea blend had a sweet, smooth - light, almost airy flavor. Rich, dark roasted in perfect balance - and easily enjoyable without a hint of cream or sugar by any average coffee drinker. This is the kind of brewed cup that will cause a hesitant light-and-sweet New Yorker to reconsider the possibility of finding delights in a pure black cup.
For those who get excited for Fall flavors - this Pumpkin Spice Latte will take you immediately beyond your days of lining big corporate pockets to a place where life was simple, sweet and full of warmth. The natural pumpkin flavor and richness is a perfect compliment to the aforementioned espresso. Was there milk in this drink? If so - it may have added depth but not flavor to this drink where the pumpkin and coffee are definitely dancing a solo in your mouth.
The unanticipated and oversimplified "Almond Croissant" - wow! Dense flaky pastry layers with magical sweet almond filling, topped with an ample dusting of confectioners' sugar.
As I explored The Chipped Cup, even more hidden charm was revealed; there is a secret garden in the back of the cafe, which is open to the public when flowers are in bloom. I will definitely have to return this Summer for a glimpse of it to compare my imaginative rendering - which put me sitting for hours while writing with a steamy cup of Counter Culture brew - to the reality of what it will look like.
As I finished my visit, I took a couple last glances at decor - charming, rustic, vintage - and save for an odd choice of top 40ish club music playing - I found this to be exactly what New York has been missing.
Perhaps there is hope for you yet, New York!! The Chipped Cup is located on Broadway between 148th/149th and they are open 7 days a week. If you are heading uptown - this is your last chance for a good cup of coffee until you almost reach the end of the island!