HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


A desire for a good coffee after a short stop in Italy

  • s

On a recent trip abroad I had a short stop in Rome's Fiumicino Airport. I went to drink coffee at a coffee counter. It was, as usual in Italy, a dreamy coffee served in a porcelain cup.

Why the hell with it a conglomerate like Starbucks cannot get even close to an airport quality coffee in Italy. Why no vendor in a superpower like the USA can serve us good coffee. Is it a cosmic deficiency? Is a divine curse?

…Just venting. You are invited to join or let me know when I can get good coffee in NYC without going to an upscale restaurant.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I love the coffee at "Rocco's Bakery" on Bleecker Street, and the cannolis too! :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jon36

      Yes, but watch out, the table service is terrible. You'll sit for a while before they serve you, they'll probably get the order wrong, and you'll never get your check.

      1. re: NativeNewYorker

        I always place my order at the display case/counter so I can see what looks good that day, and if the waiter is late with the check just go to the cashier and they will write one up for you. I usually try to go when it's not crowded and linger over that wonderful coffee! Even the "cafe americano" is bursting with flavor. :)

    2. Buon Italia in Chelsea Market has the best Italian espresso in NY. Not necessarily the greatest place to hang out, but what are you there for?

      1. If it makes you feel better, the coffee is markably better in Italy than France as well!

        8 Replies
        1. re: Dave


          1. re: cognoscenti

            I think they're the NY outpost of Philadelphia's La Colombe cafe. La Colombe makes great coffee!

            1. re: adam

              Not an outpost of the cafe, a purveyor of the coffee. La Colombe is a Philadelphia-based roaster (they also have a cafe in Philly).

              Cafe Regular uses La Colombe coffee, but they're not the only place in the city that does so (though I can't remember what the other places are right now).

              1. re: New Havener

                I know but Cafe Regular also had La Colombe printed on its plates, or napkins, or something, so I thought it might be more than just a purveyor.

                1. re: adam

                  Hm. Maybe you're right.

          2. re: Dave

            Agree - the Italian coffee is better than the French. Doesn’t make me feel less frustrated about the NYC coffee and the inevitable Statrbucks that, to my taste, “burn” the coffee and makes it too bitter. I drink strong and bitter Italian espressos with no sugar and they are great. Strabucks has that wrong bitterness of over-roasting that I dislike – I cannot finish a Starbucks’s cup of coffee in those rare times that I buy it due to lack of any other choice around.

            How can the Italians make their coffee so good even at any gas station in a middle of nowhere? It must be something in their genes.

            And whyyyyy after 20 year of a food revolution in the USA with NYC leading the trend the only way to find good coffee in NYC is to inquire the underground connections of chowhound, to keep the secret list of recommendations in my wallet, and take a subway ride whenever my desire to drink good coffee gets to a certain degree. What went wrong?

            1. re: SYCRoberts

              Don't even get me started. The situation is pathetic.

              After years of considering the question, we've decided it's:

              1. the water
              2. the fact that coffee machines in Italian bars are on 24/7 and used about every 15 seconds or so, more often during rush hour
              3. Italians know how to use the machine (supported by the fact that when I have had a good espresso in New York, it has always been someone Italian manning the machine)

              BuonItalia in Chelsea Market used to make a very decent espresso (plus these little Nutella cookies that I loved), but Francesco, the guy who was making the coffee, left, and to my palate it hasn't been the same since.

              1. re: scrittrice

                Interesting observations, especially about the machines frequent usage and the water. I always wandered why the same machines produce better coffee in Italy.

          3. The cafe on the northwest corner of 10th St and 1st Ave (called pane e taralucci, I think?) has fantastic coffee, both drip and espresso drinks. it's owned and run by Italians. they also have excellent sandwiches, salads, pastries, and wine.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rachel

              but not good gelato.

            2. My favorite cup of espresso is at Cafe Roma,on the corner of Broome and Mulberry St.Good sfogliatelle too.

              1. I always feel that coffee in a porcelein/ceramic cup is superior to any kind of takeout/melamine cup, maybe I'm crazy but maybe not. The thicker the cup, the better the coffee.

                1. Definitely try the cappuccino (if that's your thing) at Mocca on Reade at Church. They're the best we've had outside Italy (and our Elektra machine with Vivace Vita blend at home).

                  1. On the Upper East Side - I love the coffee at Via Quadronno, on 73rd between Madison & Fifth. The cappucino is incredible.

                    1. i

                      I've recently become very distressed about coffee quality in such a grand city like NYC. IMHO, that's about the only thing wrong about the city (well and also the bid for 2012 Olympics but that's another story...)

                      When I'm in dire need, I stop by Whole Foods at Union Sq. Their lattes are the best I've tasted in the city (fancy restaurant or otherwise). Next best would be cappucino at Le Pain Quotidien at ABC Carpet and home. Everything else is just awful

                      1. My first trip to NYC 5 years ago was a disappointment (for coffee). I researched and made visits and was sourly disappointed. At the time the baristas were competent at Joe’s but the coffee was middling. Later trips I brought my own, but did discover that a handful of high quality espresso shops had cropped up and the number was growing. There are representatives of the American craft style such as Oslo, in Williamsburg, and traditional Northern Italian espresso at Via Quadronno (upper East).

                        1. MACHIATTO (44th between Lex and 3rd)

                          Just got back from Italy last month--I think it measures up well with Italian coffee counter stuff. As a matter of fact, I'm going there now. Check it out; I think you'll thank me!


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Mr. Particular

                            I left out the fast, friendly, and efficient service. Modern decor is also a plus.

                            I like their double macchiatos, espressos, and cappuccinos.

                            Spelled MACCHIATO, by the way.

                            1. re: Mr. Particular

                              Macchiato Cafe is a very good place for Italian coffee. With all the Europeans hanging out in the morning, this place even feels like any coffee bar in Europe, sans the cigarette smoke.

                          2. Cafe Sabarsky has great coffee, but it is quite expensive and not terribly convenient as far as takeout. I have found the best cup of coffee is from expermenting with different quality beans and good water (very important as others stated) at home in a french press. I think that coffee is such a subjective thing, so it really depends how you like it. It will probably be hard to match the coffee you got in Italy because the localized elements really make a big difference in coffee. It's the same reason that NY bagels are so much better than other areas.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: offthebeatenpath1

                              Zibetto, Sixth Avenue bet 54-55 (53-54?) west side,, is a small, clean, white-tiled stand up only spot for excellent Danesi coffee and some snacks, with a classic barista--attentive, skilled, quick, professional.

                            2. 1. Buon Italia (Chelsea Market)
                              2. Tarallucci e Vino (Chelsea location)