Name: Everyman Espresso
Location: 136 East 13th Street (between 3rd and 4th), New York, NY
Roaster: Counter Culture Coffee
Everyman Espresso embodies Manhattan’s version of “off the beaten path.” This cafe, located conveniently near Union Square and just down the street from the 13th Street Joe the Art of Coffee (where I was just prior to arriving here on my first full day of my New York Coffee tour), offers a stark interior that happens to double as the lobby for the Classic Stage Company theater, home of such off-broadway hits as “Uncle Vanya” staring, no-name actors (sarcasm people) like Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and Denis O’Hare. Hardly off the beaten path you say? Remember that this is New York. There’s off the beaten path and off-off the beaten path. Everyman Espresso isn’t a flashy big production, but it isn’t a hole-in-the wall either.
As I stepped inside, I noticed the brick walls painted white – intentionally sloppy – and a little bar comprised of sharp angles. If you are a normal person, you might start examining the large wall opposite the bar filled with play posters or the aluminum deck chairs that actually resemble the shape of the thin, injection-molded plastic kind. You might also notice there’s a ticket booth tucked right around the corner from the bar. Me? My eyes went straight to the shelf full of Counter Culture Coffee – a rare treat for us west coasters – and a cute little 2-group Synesso.
What actually makes Everyman a bit more off the beaten path than I might otherwise expect for this busy part of town is the laid back atmosphere of the barista – at least the one who served me – and the surprisingly slow pace of the cafe. Unlike Joe and more like Uncle Vanya, Everyman offered me an opportunity to sit at the bar, and in a true Checkovian manner, discuss the coffee I was drinking. Now, if only Maggie Gyllenhaal had been my barista…
For espresso, Everyman serves the Toscano blend, a dark, sweet Central Italian style blend, and the one I think I like the best of Counter Culture’s three espressos. Admittedly, my opinion is based on a fairly limited exposure to Counter Culture’s espressos. The barista was just starting his shift and apologized in advance if things were off.
Fortunately, no real course correction was needed since my shot turned out to be quite tasty. It had an immediate thick head of chocolate brown crema that dissipated slightly by the time I managed to get out the camera. The shot was rich and full-bodied, infused with a bit of smoke and filled with plenty of bittersweet chocolate. Where I think this espresso excels is in the balance. It is rich and sweet, yet has a consistent, subdued brightness running through it that keeps it elevated above the murky depths.
I was less impressed by their single selection of brewed coffee prepared on a commercial brewer. I somehow managed to not note the coffee, but I believe it was Central American in origin. I almost don’t want to mention the name because while what I tasted was caramel, with the suggestion of something mildly fruity, it also tasted thin and either old or possibly brewed poorly. It was still better than many cups of coffee in New York, and I’d take easily over a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks, but it wasn’t as impressive as it could/should have been.
At the end of the day, this shop serves espresso that should be accessible and enjoyable to everyone. Even if their brewed coffee could be better, I only wish every theater concession stand could be so good.