Why haven’t I heard about this place before? Or, more accurately, why haven’t I heard people jumping around, singing the praises of this unassuming-from-the-outside Williamsburg coffee shop? Variety Coffee and Tea most definitely deserves its share of fanfare.
Although I’m not in love with Williamsburg, I’m slowly warming up to the neighborhood. With the neighborhood’s gorgeous views of Manhattan, it’s hard not to like it at least a little bit. The sleepy streets and great coffee only add to the area’s appeal. Being by the East River means breathtaking views and with all the benches they now have out there, you can enjoy them anytime the weather is nice. Let’s just say that I certainly wouldn’t mind living in one of those glass apartment buildings overlooking the East River. Guessing from the prices, I’m sure most people wouldn’t mind waking up to that view.
Walking out the door of my theoretical Williamsburg studio might pose some problems, though not many. The eternally run-down atmosphere doesn’t thrill me. I like my neighborhoods leafy and tree lined, two words that you will never use to describe Williamsburg. I know I’d get tired of a commute surrounded by warehouses and storage units. I don’t really like biking and who knows where the main thoroughfare of Williamsburg is. Luckily, I don’t have to live there.
But I’ll visit for brunch and the coffee. My last Sunday in America before going to Italy, I dragged my parents out of bed early and over to Egg, one of the most popular brunch spots in the city. While the menu looked unassuming, I guessed (or I assumed) that the real appeal was the not-so-expensive prices for gosh darn good food. More or less, I was right. We sat in a lovely white weathered wooden table right by the entrance, perfect for watching the Williamsburg brunch armies try to secure a spot at 10:30 on a Sunday morning. I had the grits and eggs (poached) with kale, which were very good. I would, however, get my eggs scrambled next time with that choice of meal.
But coffee is always more fun to write about than drawing on the paper tablecloth with crayons. Variety Coffee and Tea has two locations, one in Williamsburg and one in nearby Greenpoint. The one in Williamsburg is located on such a hip avenue, at the end of the block there is an Italian shop that sells lettering for tombstones, or as they call them, monuments. It’s a bit run down, but not so much that I didn’t want to get out of the car (thankfully).
Once inside, we were greeted by a bustling atmosphere and loud, though not unpleasant music and art. People were packed in at tables, typing away on their laptops (Macbook Pro, did you expect anything else?), working on personal projects and, altogether, looking quite content. I could completely see myself working on my blog, or one of my other writing projects, there.
My mother and I ordered cappuccini and my father got a macchiato. They were pleasingly heavy and rich. You could taste the coffee beautifully. An example of New York’s dense, syrupy espresso shot, these most certainly are. And I like that. I had a sip of my dad’s macchiato, which was fantastic. You really got a decent amount of the nuances of an espresso shot with more sip-ability. I would go back again and again if I lived in Williamsburg.
A Sunday fall morning spent walking around looking at the Manhattan skyline, having brunch and oh-so New York coffee was exactly what I wanted before I took off for Italy. I’m not a fan of Illy.
Brunch, a cafe, working or in bed: how do you spend your perfect Sunday morning?