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June 16, 2011


NYC’s best? Ninth Street Espresso

by Geoff Grant

Long live the king! Ken Nye opened Ninth Street Espresso in 2001, the first to really bring the avant-garde espresso bar to New York. Ten years later, Ninth Street still makes the best espresso/macchiato/cappuccino/latte in the city, albeit now with lots of competition. And we’re thankful for that competition.

Nye and Ninth Street now have three locations: in the Chelsea Market, in Alphabet City and in Tompkins Square. All are equally good. All serve the same rich espresso that makes each sip a delight. As a matter of full disclosure, I cut my New York city espresso teeth with Ninth Street, and when I was working in the Chelsea Market, I literally counted down the days until they opened their bar there.

Ninth Street uses an espresso called Alphabet City Blend, which is roasted exclusively for Ninth Street by Intelligentsia. Ninth Street may be the only espresso bar in the city that has gone through the big three of roasters — first it used Counter Culture, then Stumptown and now Intelligentsia. With those changes, it’s a credit to Nye that Ninth Street has continued its excellence over the past decade.

Their website says that Alphabet City Blend “features notes of dark chocolate and a hint of citrus with a syrupy body.” Of course, that’s pretty standard fare as descriptions go. The blend does lean on the heavy side of dark, and I say that appreciatively. It’s strong — stronger than say, Counter Culture’s espresso — and nicely acidic (and if you don’t believe me about Ninth Street, check out the glowing reviews on Yelp).

All three locations are fairly minimalist in their trappings, and the Chelsea Market spot is a bar-only (as in truly no seats). All three are still more than worth a trip. Ninth Street Espresso is a destination unto itself, even after all these years.

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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