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I’ll be at El Beit

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Name: El Beit
Location: 158 Bedford Avenue (b/w 8th and 9th), Brooklyn (Williamsburg), New York
Rating: 4

I’m hoping my last two and a half months of New York cafe visits haven’t confused or mislead too many folks. I was only there for about a week and still happily reside in the East Bay. It’s simply taken me this long to catch up with the whirlwind of coffee consumption that defined that trip. Finally, however, we’ve reached the end. This post is the last from New York (for now), but shows off one of the better spots I visited.

What I liked about El Beit is that it offers a great balance of all things that I appreciate about cafes. The design is profoundly modern with features like concrete floors, an imposing and semi-industrial tubular air duct system, oversized hanging exposed light bulbs, a shingled coffee bar, and molded plastic stools. At the same time, the space exude a sense of warmth and comfort through the use of bright (sometimes striped) colors, red brick and a narrow but cozy floor plan. It’s possible that what makes this cafe so welcoming is that it salvages pieces of the past. The table tops are reclaimed cloth cutting boards and that bar front is apparently from a barn!

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El Beit also offer a terrific variety of brewing options. The baristas pull espresso shots – both a blend and a rotating selection of single origin espressos – on their 3 group, bright orange La Marzocco FB/70. Of course they also offer a limited menu of milk based espresso drinks. For brewed coffee, you can chose from a selection of 3-4 coffees made on their Clover brewer or an individually prepared french press. El Beit also has a regularly rotating house selection that is made via french press and stored in an airpot.

To top it off, El Beit uses coffee from 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters which you’d think would be easy for me to get out here on the west coast given that they are out of Vancouver. I’m sad to say that I had to go to New York to get some. While I imagine the trip it takes for this coffee to get east could mean a freshness lag – in fact, some of the coffee for sale was depressingly pushing a couple of weeks old – it does mean that El Beit is offering (very good) coffee that’s hard to find elsewhere in New York.

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I started off with a shot of 49th Parallel’s Epic espresso blend. I opted for this rather than the Organic Ethiopian Sidamo they were pulling as a single origin espresso. As good as the latter coffee could have been, I’m not too familiar with the Epic blend and figured I should start with the basics. The crema on my shot was a little dark suggesting some over extraction, but my shot tasted quite good. The espresso was filled with blackberry and dark chocolate notes along with hints of Ceylon tea and a lemongrass-like acidity.

I briefly tasted the Costa Rica coffee they were serving as their house coffee that day, which seemed like a decent lighter roasted coffee, but didn’t wow me like I wanted. I had much better luck with the cup of Guatemala Finca de Perla brewed for me on the Clover. That coffee had a melon-like brightness and a creamy mouthfeel. This medium bodied coffee with some very clear notes of cherry was certainly one of the better cups of brewed coffee I had on my New York trip.

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