NYC Coffee Tour – Brooklyn North and South
Continued from our last post, NYC Coffee Tour – Manhattan
We decided to break up the Brooklyn tour into two separate tours due to the fact that Brooklyn is laid out in such a way that makes it very difficult to travel intra-borough. Therefore we recommend splitting the tour into two days. If you have a bike or like adventures in mass transit, it certainly can be done.
Brooklyn is well on its’ way to being a force in specialty coffee independently of Manhattan. Not only is it home to most of NYC’s baristas, it’s also home to some of the best coffee shops in the country. In the North we have the Williamsburg Loop, including the coffee shops of Willamsburg and Greenpoint, and in the South is the Park Slope Shuffle (oy! and you can take the Park Slope Shuttle to get there! Har har…), the four shops stretching through Park Slope from South to North.
1. Southside Coffee – 652 6th Avenue at 19th St.
This coffee shop is in the running for being my favorite coffee shop in new york city (again, not picking a favorite). Tucked away on a side street past the frou-frou hubub of park slope, Southside is there, just chillin’, waiting for you to come in and have some great coffee. I also love their couches – yes – couches in a new york coffee shop! We are good friends with the owners, so maybe they make our coffees extra-good, but the New York Times recently used their shop as the lead. I hear that’s a better review than mine, but, I dunno… Also as a fair warning, they are an espresso-comes-first kinda place, so they don’t have a ton of pastry/food options.
To get from Southside to Red Horse, turn left out of the door and walk North on 6th Ave to 12th St. Red Horse is on the northeast corner of 12th St at 6th Avenue.
2. Red Horse – 497 6th Ave at 12th St.
Right up the street from Southside is Red Horse, a cafe that serves Barrington Coffee up on the Synesso. Red Horse is extremely cozy, with hand-made wooden tables and still more couches. They also offer up some delicious cafe-foods (I remember a particularly delicious egg-salad sandwich, but it’s been a while since I’ve eaten there).
To get from Red Horse to Root Hill, walk North to 11th St and turn left. Turn right on 5th Ave and walk to Carroll St. Turn left, walk to 4th Ave and the cafe is on the Northwest corner of Carroll St. and 4th Ave.
3. Root Hill – 262 4th Ave – (718) 797-0100
Root Hill introduced me to the term “Gowanus” (apparently it’s a neighborhood in Brooklyn, and probably if you live there you think I am silly for not knowing it), but, as usual, I found out about it because of “good coffee.” A great Counter Culture shop that’s home of one of the last private Clovers, it’s just close enough to my house to get a semi-frequent personal visit. They also pride themselves in doubling as cafe, with wonderful sandwiches and other fares. This place is very kid friendly, which is great if you’re a parent in the neighborhood, but maybe not great if you were planning on writing a thesis here.
To get from Root Hill to Gorilla, walk East on Carroll St. to 5th Ave and turn left. Walk North to Baltic St. / Park PL (5th Ave is the end of one and the beginning of the other, but they are essentially the same street. Gorilla is on the Northeast corner of the intersection.
4. Gorilla Coffee – 97 5th Ave – (718) 230-3244
Right at the top of Park Slope, Gorilla is the longest standing coffee shop in the neighborhood. Their front door is so well known it made it onto the cover of the New Yorker! And, with that said, the place is always packed, so remember your seat-searching skills when you go. I highly recommend the small maple latte, it definitely hits the spot on a cold winter’s day!
1. Cafe El Beit – 158 Bedford Ave btw N. 8th and N. 9th St. – (718) 302-1810
Right in the heart of Williamsburg’s main drag, El Beit is perhaps the most accessible shop in all of Brooklyn, if you’re one of those Manhattanites that refuses to believe that Brooklyn exists. Home of the city’s only espresso machine in lambroghini orange and jack torres’ wonderful hot chocolate, it’s worth the visit. Also the 49th Parallel coffee is pretty good too. Oh, and they have an awesome backyard, with a terrace built with salvaged wood.
To get from El Beit to Oslo, walk South on Bedford and turn left on N. 5th St. Walk two blocks to Roebling. Cross the street and turn right on Roebling. Oslo is in the big modern looking building on Roebling , on the left. It has huge doors, so it’s hard to miss.
2. Oslo Coffee* – 133 Roebling St at Metropolitan Ave. – (718) 782-0332
Oslo Coffee holds a place very near and dear to my heart. Apparently, the name goes back to the owner’s wife, who is from a Norwegian neighborhood in Seattle (for those of you playing along at home, that’s my home-neighborhood, Ballard!). But rather than name is ‘Ballard’, they decided to name it ‘Oslo’, to avoid people asking why it was called ‘Ballard’. Now they just ask why it’s called Oslo! But the coffee’s great – currently Cafe Vita – and they may be roasting their own soon. Apparently the location on Bedford is the “cool” one, but I like this one because it has a wall that can be opened to the air, and there’s a fair amount of seating.
To get from Oslo to Gimme, turn left out of Oslo and then cross and turn left on Metropolitan Ave. Walk along Metropolitan under the highway and turn right on Lorimer St. Walk three blocks on Lorimer, Gimme is on the right. It has a big red awning that’s hard to miss, but if you hit Grand St. you’ve gone too far.
3. Gimme Lorimer 495 Lorimer St btw Powers St. and Grand St. – 718-388-7771
We sent you to the one in Manhattan too, but this one is different. Much more like its cousins upstate, this Gimme is a bigger, redder shop than their Mott St. store. This is one of the more established cafes in North Brooklyn, so not only is there palpable regular-barista camradarie, there’s also usually a line to the door. Have your order ready!
To get from Gimme to Variety, walk North on Lorimer and turn right on Ainslie St. Walk three blocks and then turn left on Graham. walk three more blocks, and Cafe Variety is on the right, just a little past Conselyea St, right next to a massage parlour. There is a large sign that says “Cho’s Variety” on it which is left over from the previous tenants.
4. Variety - 368 Graham Avenue – (718) 387-0034
One of the newest kids on the Brooklyn coffee shop block is Variety, which opened in June. Most of the shop was hand-built by the owner. He had the neighboorhood in mind when he built it out, including lots of seating in the front, back, and outside. Free WiFi and Stumptown coffee to boot. Delicious sandwiches when Mario is cooking!
To get from Variety to Beaner Bar, Turn right out of Variety and walk 5 blocks North on Graham. Beaner Bar is on the left between Frost and Richardson, behind the bus stop.
6. Beaner Bar – 447 Graham Ave – (347) 223-4950
This Mexican-themed espresso bar is the newest addition to the Williamsburg scene. Open since September, they serve Intelligentsia Coffee (try the melitta bar) and serve up some innoative espresso drinks, such as the hempacinno. They’ve also got tamales on the weekends, vegan muffins during the week. What they don’t have, though, is a ton of seating, so be prepared to get cozy with the owners and friendly patrons.
To get from Beaner Bar to Cafe Grumpy, there are a couple options. Since it’s a bit farther, one can either walk or take a bus. To walk, go North on Graham under the highway and turn right on Bayard St. Bayard St. will turn into Humboldt St., and walk to Driggs Ave. Cross Driggs and walk several feet, then turn right on Diamond St.. Walk three blocks on Diamond St. to Meserole Ave. Grumpy is on the corner of Diamond and Meserole. To take to bus, take the B43 bus on the other side of Graham St. and ride it to Meserole St. Leave the bus and walk East on Meserole 2 blocks to Diamond St. Grumpy is at the corner of Meserole and Diamond.
6. Cafe Grumpy* Greenpoint – 193 Meserole Ave at Diamond St – (718) 349-7623
This is Cafe Grumpy’s original location. Should we call it ‘palatial’? Well, no, probably not, it’s not as big as cafes in other cities. But it’s certainly the biggest in brooklyn in terms of seating for the customers. This shop is great, and it’s got all the same shiny equipment as the 23rd street shop, including a Clover. So come for a free cupping or a Clover cup of coffee, stay for the revolving library – a bookshelf that customers rotate themselves with unwanted books, or their frequent movie nights and other events.