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Brooklyn Roast

Williamsburg’s Take on the Daily Grind
  • Toby Estates

    Pour-over coffee at Toby’s Estate (Image courtesy of Toby’s Estate & Morgan Yeager)

  • Toby Estates

    Toby’s Estate (Image courtesy of Toby’s Estate & Morgan Yeager)

  • King and Grove Williamsburg

    Upper Elm and a latte at King and Grove Williamsburg

  • Blue Bottle

    The Blue Bottle café in Williamsburg and a cup of Blue Bottle coffee

  • Blue Bottle

    Coffee-brewing siphons at Blue Bottle

  • oslo

    Oslo café and, on the right, its owners JD and Kathy Merget (Images courtesy of Megan Brewer)

  • King and Grove Williamsburg

    The rooftop at King and Grove Williamsburg

  • Gimme

    Gimme! Coffee

CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

On the Atlantic coast, where the Hudson and East rivers meet the sea.

WHY GO

This is one of just a handful of cities with a genuine shot at the title of Capital of the World. If it isn’t happening in New York, it isn’t happening.

HOW

It’s practically impossible to avoid — all roads, rails and flight paths in the eastern U.S. seem to lead to New York.

TABLET TIP

Try to see the city’s much-vaunted attitude as a positive rather than a negative. Rarely will a New Yorker leave you wondering what he really thinks.

Brooklyn, October, 2013

On a recent Sunday morning, a busload of Italian tourists unloaded in front of the Blue Bottle café on Berry Street, in Williamsburg. Trickling out, cameras hanging heavy from their necks, they formed a small bulge beneath the trembling wall of the bus. If anyone noticed the condos glinting in the sun above the East River a few blocks to the west, it was nothing to lift a lens over. They’d taken a first small step into Williamsburg on the sort of one-storefront block where it’s still possible to park a tour bus during the weekend brunching hour, albeit with an assist from the bike lane, and the scene must have seemed at odds with everything they’d heard. So this was Brooklyn. A block to the east, the pedestrian floes of Bedford Avenue were slowly amassing, but here a crowd had only just arrived.

If the travelers stepping off the bus were there for the coffee, they were in for some very good stuff. Like seemingly everything one can consume in the neighborhood, a drink at Blue Bottle is the product of extreme effort. To find their beans, the company sends someone flying around the world and bumping along sometimes sketchy backroads, scouting and vetting the most promising farms — the beginning of a process that makes $4 for an iced coffee (funky New Orleans or smooth Kyoto style, your choice) seem more than reasonable.

But maybe you prefer to take your painstakingly sourced, conscientiously traded, locally roasted, perfectly pulled and artfully poured coffee while sunk into a low-slung sofa in a stylishly converted former industrial space, rather than seated on a high metal stool in a stylishly converted former industrial space. For that you’ll have to travel a block and a half to Berry and North 6th Street, where the Australian import Toby’s Estate serves very slightly less zealously hyped coffee in a very slightly cozier space. Bonus points if you can divine what separates a flat white — the much beloved if little agreed-upon Australian ratio of espresso to steamed milk — from a short latte.

The committed coffee obsessive could continue to Oslo, which despite its name is the rare non-transplant among the neighborhood’s artisanal coffee roasters. The café has a homey, down-to-earth feel that’s harder and harder to find in these parts. Or they could pass under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway for some excellent espresso at Gimme; the Upstate roaster arrived a full decade ago, an eon in gentrification years, and it maintains a well-deserved contingent of loyalists.

For the less than clinically obsessed coffee drinker, however, the best spot for a cup might be the King & Grove Williamsburg. The hotel serves coffee from the ever-popular, Chicago-based Intelligentsia, including espresso drinks with their chocolatey Black Cat blend, which turns a latte into something more like a milkshake. (It’s hard not to like.) The breakfaster whose dedication to the Williamsburg aesthetic knows no bounds can have their espresso alongside lobster Benedict served on a house-made crumpet, in the hotel’s impeccably styled industrial-chic restaurant — for the rest of us there’s room service, and a shameless few packets of sugar to make it go down that much easier.

Mike Parker

Book this story

CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

On the Atlantic coast, where the Hudson and East rivers meet the sea.

WHY GO

This is one of just a handful of cities with a genuine shot at the title of Capital of the World. If it isn’t happening in New York, it isn’t happening.

HOW

It’s practically impossible to avoid — all roads, rails and flight paths in the eastern U.S. seem to lead to New York.

TABLET TIP

Try to see the city’s much-vaunted attitude as a positive rather than a negative. Rarely will a New Yorker leave you wondering what he really thinks.


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