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Mar 17, 2010 08:29 AM

Espresso at Joe

I had the espresso at Joe (the one on Waverly) last Wednesday (the day it was rated "outstanding" in NYT). I thought the espresso was the worst I have ever drunk. Worst. I don't get it. Is there something wrong with me?

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  1. Tastes are tastes. Perhaps Joe makes an espresso that you just don't like. There is nothing wrong with not liking something.

    Joe and most of the new wave of places using American blends/roasts I find to be very concentrated, very strong in flavor and overly bitter. They work fine in cappuccino, but make for a too overpowering espresso for my taste.

    Espresso made Italian style should be strong in flavor but not bitter.

    But Joe's espresso is a quality product, made with care. Hard to believe it was "the worst". I've had a lot of bad espresso in NYC and other parts. I don't think Joe's espresso is bad, but for the reasons discussed above, I prefer their milk-based coffee drinks.

    But perhaps you could be more specific about what you didn't like about it? And perhaps what you do like and maybe people can come up with places that may be more suitable to your tastes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: boccalupo

      Yes, Joe's espresso was bitter in a (to me) toxic way I've never experienced before. I can see that maybe this sort of espresso roast works in a drink with a lot of milk. But do people really drink this type of espresso straight for pleasure? Okay, I get it -- I don't like American-style espresso roast. I love a good Italian-style espresso. Now I understand, got it, thanks.

      1. re: bowmgbo

        I am pretty much in agreement with you on this.

        For similar reasons, I don't get the obsession American microbrewers have with ever more bitter, hoppy IPA type beers. Almost seems like you are not cool if you cannot appreciate excruciatingly bitter flavors.

        I prefer my flavors a bit more balanced.

        For American espresso roasts, Fonte' of Seattle comes pretty close to the best of the Italian blends. They serve it at Macchiato near Grand Central, which, by the way, did not make the NY Times list.

    2. It's true, most all the new coffee places are using blends, and Joe's is supposed to have hints of "bittersweet chocolate". Apparently they got stuck on the bitter.

      These new places are competing for different approaches, and flavor profiles, so the quality will change drastically. The taste will very greatly depending on the baristas skill level, or even the season. It's not something you would notice with a dark dark italian roast, but the trade off is when it's good, it will really be good, with new complex flavors.

      Joe's normally makes great coffee, roasted by Ecco, which in turn is owned by Intellegentsia. It's the very best in the city now, but it's close.

      Speaking of which...
      Avoid RBC Coffee's espresso if you dislike bitter. I believe they used a single source bean as opposed to a blend, and they got a lot of press initially for their Slayer machine, but I've never tasted a less palatable more medicinal extraction of espresso. It was disgustingly bitter, and went down rough like a shot of bad alcohol.

      7 Replies
      1. re: sugartoof

        Sugartoof, who do you think makes the best espresso in NYC?

        1. re: boccalupo

          I'll confess I rarely drink espresso straight these days,but I've had mostly good experiences ordering the rest of the menu at Gimme Coffee, Grumpy, Stumptown at Ace, La Colombe, and Blue Bottle. All roast their own.

          There's also Black Cat espresso from Intelligentsia that's very drinkable. Their beans are all over now, so it will be hit or miss.

          All these places overshadow the names I might have offered up a year ago, such as Abraco, 9th Street, Joe's, Irving Mill, etc.

          Has anyone tried the Four Barrel espresso at Maialino?

          Irving Mill
          116 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003

          86 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

          La Colombe
          270 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

          18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

          2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

          1. re: sugartoof

            Did not try the espresso, but just back from lunch ending with the Four Barrels press, which I enjoyed greatly (and without getting wired to the hilt).

            Food was also good - Coppa Croccante (suckling pig in batter, sounds better in Italian...) with delicious chard and tomato/peperoncino side. Location right by Gramercy Park also makes for nice light at lunchtime. Space has buzz without being too loud. Customary Danny Meyer service - friendly without being over familiar.

            One v small complaint is that my almost empty plate was nearly removed twice in quick succession, before our waitress intervened to tell us to take our time - it seemed like they noticed and corrected, in other words.

            Looking forward to going back.

            1. re: sugartoof

              culture espresso on 38th and sixth also uses intelligentsia i think. grumpy and la colombe are my faves, but in midtown i haven't found better than culture.

              my experience with manhattan espresso on 49t st was good, but i got a mocha so it's hard for me to judge based on that. has anyone tried this place?

                1. re: InSearchOfTacos

                  Manhattan Espresso is very good. They use Illy coffee, which is an excellent coffee. However, the quality of their preparation is merely adequate. Cute place though.

                  Manhattan Espresso
                  146 E 49th St, New York, NY 10017

                  1. re: boccalupo

                    Coffee from a can doesn't compete with fresh roasted beans, otherwise, I would have mentioned Taralucci e vino, who make delicious espresso drinks.