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Jun 18, 2013 12:25 PM

Morning coffee near Allen/Houston

Will be staying at the Thompson LES (corner of Allen & Houston) for a long week-end. Any suggestions for the best coffee and pastries/breakfast quick snacks, we like to just have coffee and a snack in the morning before setting off. It has to be opened on week-ends also. For example, last time, we were near Stumpton at the Ace, so would get our morning fix there. All I have near our hotel is Bowery Coffee, which I've never tried.


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  1. I enjoy Bowery Coffee quite a bit and they have pastries in the morning as well. Very small but nice service.

    Bluebird Coffee Shop is closest to your hotel (on 1st and 1st) but I haven't been there in a while.

    Caffe Vita (from Seattle) is also quite close at Ludlow and Rivington:

    If you're up for a short walk, you could go up 1st Ave to Abraco, just off 1st onto East 7th St. Also tiny, barely any seating to speak of.

    7 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      All great suggestions. Caffe Vita is also similar to Stumptown in roasting style.

      Another option in the LES is the Cafe Grumpy on Essex. Pushcart Coffee is on East Broadway nearby, and carries Stumptown amongst other roasters. These are more off the beaten track, but still close by.

      There's also Lost Weekend, which is a boutique with Blue Bottle.

      Home Espresso Bar which uses Brooklyn Roasting Company (hit or miss, in my experience) which has more snacks if you're leaning in that direction.

      As for Bowery Coffee, it's really good, and the decor is of the same school as Ace Hotel. I don't recall pastries, but they do carry donuts. It's not far from Gasoline Alley coffee on Lafayette, and then La Colombe which carries great olive oil bread, and some croissants.

      1. re: sugartoof

        I have a different viewpoint on most of these recommendations.

        Probably the best closest shop mentioned above is Bluebird, fairly well prepared Counter Culture coffee. Right down the street, near Prune, is Prima, a daytime cafe/nighttime cocktail bar and Italian restaurant, a joint venture between Ninth Street Espresso, Summit Bar, and Motorino. I haven't been in a while, but it's roughly on the same level as Bluebird.

        Gasoline Alley is a gorgeous shop not too far away that offers inconsistently prepared Intelligentsia, but if I lived nearby I'd probably go a lot. It has that confluence of factors that makes it irresistible. Depending on your coffee palate, this might be the spot for you.

        Further away is Cafe Grumpy on Essex St near Canal St. If I was staying at the Thompson Hotel and cared only about coffee quality, this is where I would go. It's by far the best shop of all mentioned here. They roast their own coffee locally, and they produce wonderful baked goods in their next-door bakery. However, there's barely any seating at all, although you can bring your coffee across the street and sit in the park.

        I'm not a fan of Bowery Coffee, at least for their coffee. They are contract roasting their own these days and I find it undrinkable, like sludge. It has beautiful decor and offers a large assortment of Doughnut Plant doughnuts.

        Caffe Vita roasting is not very much like Stumptown's. Caffe Vita roasts quite dark and their coffee is along the cinder-y continuum. I'm interested to know why you think this is like Stumptown.

        Lost Weekend offers Blue Bottle and is a great place to chill, but they aren't dedicated to making good coffee.

        1. re: Peter Cuce

          I don't see much difference in your viewpoints...

          Good to know Bowery Coffee switched from Counter Culture. I can't vouch for their current offerings then. The OP could probably do worse though.

          Re: Lost Weekend, it's not a shop dedicated to coffee, but they do a proper Blue Bottle pour over at least. Have you had some problems with lattes there?

          Caffe Vita is a darker roast, yes...and that's largely what Stumptown made it's name on (Hairbender blend, etc.). Stumptown at the Ace typically features their signature darker roasts, and their medium roasts are usually at the darker end of the spectrum anyway, as is standard in New York. Caffe Vita is sometimes maltier, but not drastically so, and not as dark as La Colombe.

          1. re: sugartoof

            Bowery Coffee switched from Counter Culture well over a year ago.

            I don't drink lattes much, maybe once a year. I haven't had anything good at Lost Weekend in any of my visits.

            Stumptown doesn't have a signature darker roast - they don't roast dark. Caffe Vita's roast is nothing like Stumptown's.

            1. re: Peter Cuce

              "I don't drink lattes much"

              The Project Latte blog name is outdated then?

              Bowery Coffee has always served me tasty coffee, so I guess I've had their own offerings and didn't realize it. The OP might want more pastry options, but the coffee will work.

              Saying Stumptown doesn't roast dark or have a signature darker roast... Wow. That's an odd statement.

              1. re: sugartoof

                If all this time you thought Bowery Coffee's American Bulldog was Counter Culture Apollo, I think you rest my case for me.

    2. Just a couple of blocks east on Houston to Gaia Cafe for excellent Illy espresso drinks and homemade Italian pastries. The food there is absolutely wonderful and ridiculously inexpensive. lt's one of those "best-kept secret" places.

      1 Reply
      1. re: howdini

        Gaia is the best, but you will walk by a number of very good coffee shops to get there, all the while ruining one of my "best kept secret" spots.

      2. Hi,

        Thanks for all your recommendations. We came back and here is what we tried: Sunday morning, we went to Bluebird, the closest to our hotel, but they had an unexpected issues, and said they were not opened yet (this was maybe an hour after opening time). So we headed to Bowery coffee for coffee and doughnuts. I like their regular coffee, although a little too light for my taste. My wife enjoyed her late, and even more so her coconut donut (we're from Montreal, were good doughnuts are a rarity).

        Next morning was Caffe Vita, which was good fore coffee, ok for the chocolate and almond croissants, but I hadn't realized there was NO seating watsoever. Since it was pouring outside, we'd hoped to let the rain pass a little.

        The Saturday was Prune brunch, our second time, and as good as the first.

        Thanks for the recs.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sweettoothMTL

          Didn't realize you were looking for seating too. Vita is teensy tiny, with a small roasting machine shoved into the far corner. It's crowded just to maneuver the lids and sugars.