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May 7, 2011


Getting some Culture

by Geoff Grant

I really want to like Culture Espresso. I really do. It’s got good-looking baked goods, though I haven’t given in as of yet. And you can grab a sandwich, too (haven’t tried those, either, but I will at some point). Best of all, it’s located in Midtown, and the good espresso bars are few and far between in the city.

But I’ve been there three times so far and the cappuccinos continue to mildly disappoint. The first one I had was brutal, almost undrinkable, but I’m not counting that one as the lone barista was harried, about to close, and it was soon after Culture Espresso opened. My second cappuccino there was average and the third one today was decent. But just decent. On all three caps, the milk was burnt to various degrees, and the foam was inconsistent.

I guess what’s most disappointing is that they use Intelligentsia and I know how good Intelligentsia’s espresso can be (head to Ninth Street Espresso for the best example).

But if you’re hoofing it on 5th or 6th and are not close enough to head to Stumptown in the Ace Hotel (on 29th between those two avenues), then Culture may be your best bet. I’ll be back, too. But I’m not in a rush to make a special trip.

New York’s Top 10 Espresso Bars (subject to change!)

1. Ninth Street Espresso (Chelsea Market) – recommended

2. Gimme! Coffee (Soho and Brooklyn) – recommended

3. Stumptown in Ace Hotel (Herald Square area) – recommended

4. Caffetteria (Soho standout now shuttered, but props nonetheless)

5. Kava Cafe (Chelsea) – recommended

6. Abraco (East Village) – recommended

7. Third Rail Coffee (West Village)

8. Ost (East Village) – recommended

9. Culture Espresso Bar (Midtown)

10. Dora (East Village)


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