2nd best coffee in Brooklyn is now in Brooklyn Heights?
- Rick Elkins
Surprisingly, a just-opened cafe in Brooklyn Heights just might be serving the best coffee in Brooklyn (OK, after Gimme Coffee).
My wife and I saw it and stopped in on Wednesday night. The Cafe Chez Henry had just opened, but I was dubious... from what I know about the owners other places, I didn't really have high hopes.
But there behind the counter was a shiny new e61 Faema Legend...pretty impressive. So we ordered an espresso from the manager, whose name is Saeif, if I remember correctly.
He wasn't satisfied with the first shot, and threw it out...a sigh of high standards not commonly seen in this city. Then he threw out a second shot, offering an apology! This guy really cares about coffee!
Moments later he handed over a doppio ristretto in a warm ceramic cup. Extremely good...maybe the best in Brooklyn, and certainly better than anything in Brooklyn Heights, or anywhere else nearby for that matter.
He's grinding Dallis Coffee's "New York Espresso" blend fresh for every shot, and seems to care very much about keeping up the quality, so this place may be a real jewel.
Again, I have no idea about the restaurant, which has yet to open...this is the Cafe.
They also have what look to be good fruit tarts, croissants, sandwiches, etc. We had stopped in after dinner, so we didn't eat anything.
It is located near the corner of Henry and Cranberry Streets, on Henry.
imvho, i find the coffee at gorilla extremely over-roasted. they mean well there, but the technical roasting style isn't to my taste.
they buy a lot of their beans from royal coffee, which is good, specialty coffee, but to my mind the roasting style overwhelms the nuances that could be coaxed from this quality bean. finally, i'm just not impressed with the quality of beverage preparation there.
gimme has several espresso blends, and if you didn't like, say, the leftist, then you might perhaps like the platinum blonde. ask the barista to try a different blend; they are usually happy to do this if the shop isn't crowded and they have time to dial in the robur grinder.
the roastmaster for gimme does seem to prefer certain leathery notes in his coffee that's not going to be to everyone's taste. and he roasts more in a west-coast style.
however their espresso machine, the hand-built, temperature- controlled mirage, is one of the best in the entire u.s.a., and their baristas continue to sweep coffee competitions for their skill in pulling shots and pouring latte art. chris deferio and mike white are fantastic baristi -- chris particularly is moving the art of the barista forward with his triple-laurel wreath latte art, which he pours with a lovely hand.
saeif at cafe chez henry has the foundation of a great coffee program. but he does need to hire a pro barista to carry his coffee cuisine forward. steve schulman's (of dallis coffee) new york espresso blend is an interesting one in that it tries to straddle the east-coast, west-coast divide. it may have a strong central american/nicaraguan component, whereas many espresso blends are rooted in a brazil cerrado. . .i'm still sussing this out with every taste, myself.
alas, we have mostly bad coffee in new york and bklyn. the victory at state & hoyt serves the wonderful batdorf dancing goat blend, but the owner, patrick, doesn't to my mind take proper care with machine cleanliness, coffee freshness, or consistent preparation.
here in bklyn we do have some of the best coffee in the u.s.a. with gillies coffee leading the way for non-espresso. however, we lack coffeeshop owners who take their product seriously. it's near impossible to find a shop that makes the beverage properly, that maintains the machines, then holds the coffee at the right temperature for the right time, etc.
it's really a shame. . . thus besides gimme, rarely the victory, and maybe saeif once he's been open for a while, good pulls are very tough to find, which is why most of the serious coffee lovers in bklyn i know have retreated to their homes, bought their own pro-sumer machines, and gone to workshops to learn to be their own barista. . .many are even home-roasting now. . .
re: fortune elkins
I live on 5th ave in Brooklyn, and I have to agree with you on Gorilla. I find their coffee over roasted, more along the style of Starbucks, which I also do not like.
I know I'm in the minority here, but I think that Ozzie's does a great job with their roasts on fifth ave. I tend to stay away from the French Roasts, but their Vienna Roasts and American Roasts are excellent, in my opinion.
"Ozzie's blend", which they serve in their cafe, however, I do not particularly like; only their "take-out" beans.
Do your rankings apply to brewed coffee as well? Have you tried the brewed-to-order coffee at Cafe Grumpy in Greenpoint? That $11,000 Clover brewing machine reminded me of the old San Francisco saw about never drinking coffee from a machine that weighs less than you do. All I can say is the cup I had at the Chelsea location reminded me of a good ol' North Beach Italian roast; perhaps they could call it a "heirloom" brew.
The "drip" from the Clovers in Manhattan are amazing. Only place where you can reliably get a choice of different decaf brews (don't hate me, but I had to give up caffeine in high amounts like in coffee and tea).
I'm really going to miss the decaf Americanos I used to get at Brooklyn Bean & Tea - they were hands down the best coffee shop in the South Brooklyn area. (I do like the cafe on 11th St. or thereabouts in Park Slope that serves La Colombe.)
I just went to El Beit. I'm not sure quite what I think of the Clover. Well, I think I liked it! What was interesting is that as I got to the end of my cup, and the coffee started getting colder, it still tasted good, if not better. I like the space there too, very clean and open for a tiny spot.