Name: Blue Spoon Coffee Co.
Location: 76 Chambers Street (b/w Broadway and Church), New York, New York
Roaster: Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea
My first reaction to Blue Spoon was disappointment. The website and the few tips I’d spotted prior to heading there on my NY tour lead me to expect too much. The photographs I saw projected a sense of style and elegance that doesn’t exist in person and rarely have I been to cafes serving Intelligentsia that weren’t in some way striving for their own sense of design (the one exception I can think of is Specialty’s Cafe, which bakes delicious things but doesn’t do a lot in the way of design – it also manages to mess up Intelligentsia).
The challenge for me was overcoming expectations and accepting Blue Spoon for the beautiful thing that it is. Blue Spoon is not a high-end, no holds barred, sleek, modern shop. It also isn’t one to compete with Kaffe 1668, which resides just a few blocks away and which also serves Intelligentsia. Blue Spoon, despite some attempts on the part of the owners isn’t really a third wave cafe. Instead, it is a plain and simple NY deli that happens to serve good coffee with some skill.
Blue Spoon’s coffee menu is simple and to the point. The baristas – and they really are baristas, not just cashiers pulling shots like you might find at a deli – will make you a Black Cat espresso on their older 2-group La Spazialie espresso machine. I didn’t like my shot as much as another reviewer who posted on Blue Spoon very recently, but it wasn’t bad either. I got lots of chocolate and molasses and a hint of something like peanuts. None of the intense blackberry I’ve noted previously, but it was appropriately bright. It also had a nice, reddish, reasonably thick head of crema.
The house blend brewed on a commercial brewer- I’m not actually clear if this is a custom blend or not – was a milder coffee, with a medium, tea-like body that tended towards a somewhat indistinguishable fruitiness. I shied away from overly thin, steered clear of overly strong and hit a more or less perfectly neutral note.
The fact of the matter is that Blue Spoon tries to be more than it needs to be. Certainly, if I find myself in this area of Manhattan again, I’d be hard pressed to go anywhere other than Kaffe 1668. Certainly that’s unfortunate. However, Blue Spoon is precisely the kinds of uplifting I hope will spread far and wide. Just imagine the day when your corner deli slings shots of Intelligentsia rather than baking pots of Folgers. That will be a good day indeed.