The idea of getting a good coffee in midtown is about as strange to me as getting a good coffee at a Starbucks, it simply doesn’t happen. Sure there is a soft place in my heart for those red holiday cups, but Starbucks is a tea place and study house. There isn’t a soft spot in my heart for midtown, though.
That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes find myself stranded in the concrete jungle and wanting a nice coffee. Luckily, I’m no longer helpless in that respect; I’ve found Culture Espresso Bar.
Culture is a small Australian-owned cafe, meaning they have flat whites on the menu. Since the owner does hail from the coffee saturated land of Australia, I expected a high quality cup. I think a part of me also expected everyone who worked there to be Australian, but that’s just a bit silly, really.
The cafe is in the middle of the hustle and bustle of midtown, but feels like a little oasis inside. There’s a large counter from which you order and a small display case of baked goods. Apparently, most of them are baked on premises, which is pretty cool. If you fancy something a bit more savory, they also have some sandwiches, which, given the waxed paper they are wrapped in, seem to be homemade as well.
Before walking in, I had thought that there wasn’t any seating in the cafe, yet they do manage to squeeze quite a few tables into a relatively small area. There’s a bar in the middle of the cafe, which has about four seats on either side (it almost resembles the communal table at Le Pain Quotidien), as well as a bar at the front that faces the front windows. In addition, there’s also four small tables on the far side, so you can sit down and have a chat if you want.
But of course, we don’t go to cafes because we want to sit down (though that is always a lovely bonus, isn’t it). We go because we want some good coffee. So, how does Culture stack up?
Very very well.
I ended up getting a cappuccino and enjoyed it completely. There was just enough foam to make the whole experience feel adequately cappuccino-y and the coffee tasted bold, enhanced by the milk.
My mother had a flat white, the popular Australian drink that falls in between the cappuccino and the latte. While I couldn’t detect much of a difference between my cappuccino and her flat white, she said she could and enjoyed it immensely.
Only downside? There wasn’t any chocolate on my cappuccino, I would expect that from an Australian coffee place. Either way, in midtown or in the East Village, Culture Espresso is mostly definitely a cafe worth visiting. And revisiting.
Have you ever tried a flat white?