The Weird Spots: Nolita Mart and Espresso

I don’t say this enough, but I really love New York.

I know, I know, that’s so unoriginal.  Everything about New York has already been said, so why try to add anything new, right?  Wrong.  There’s something about New York, and yes about New York coffee, that hasn’t been said and needs more attention.

New York cafes are awesome because they can be anywhere.  The fact that you can get a great espresso in a chinatown grocery store reflects the energy of this city.  It’s unexpected and pushes you out of your comfort zone.

The first time I went to a cafe that was inside another type of shop, I was nervous.  Would I look awkward?  What would it be like?  Where would I go?  If only I knew.  When a shop in New York is serving coffee they’re welcoming you in.  Sure, they might want you to look around and browse, but they also want to share a little light with you.  Because good coffee can and SHOULD do that.

Nevertheless, when I was heading over to Nolita Mart and Espresso before going to yoga (Strala Strong with Heidi, go, just go right now), I was anxious once again.  Would I stick out like a sore thumb in this chinatown coffee shop?  I reminded myself that, if you are carrying a yoga mat in New York City, you’ll probably blend in .

Whenever you go to a place that is half coffee shop and half something else, the coffee shop is always in the front.  Seriously.  I’ve never had this not be the case.  They want you to get coffee, probably because it’s the big ticket item.  Nolita Mart and Espresso looks like a gourmet deli, the kind that litters the street corners.  Except their coffee machine is La Marzocco, not an automaton.

They do quite a few cold brews in addition to the obligatory pour over and espresso.  The beans are stumptown.  There’s a tiny bar with a few stools if you want to sit.  There is also a bench and a standing bar set up outside if that’s more your style.

I got a cappuccino on a hot summer day.  And not just because hot beverages are supposed to cool you down quicker than cool ones, but because I’ve been loving the japanese ice brew at home recently and was in the mood for a hot coffee.  I can make myself an iced coffee, finally.

After the barista gave me a strange look (I don’t blame her), I paid my $3.75 and waited.  The coffee cup was an interesting size, sort of like a larger 8 oz cup, but the same height.  I took a sip and the familiar taste of a milky cappuccino washed over me.  It tasted comforting, like coming home.  There I was, walking along Mott street on a 90 plus day, drinking a cappuccino and smiling like a very happy person (other people might say a lunatic, but I beg to differ).

This may not have been the most stand out cappuccino, but it was the most familiar taste ever.  I could drink it every day and not get tired of it.  Sure, I might want a bit more of a coffee “bite” sometimes, but for the days when I wanted a comforting, milky beverage, this would hit the nail on the head.

That’s not to say that I thought this was the best cappuccino.  I liked it because it tasted like a good version of a mediocre coffee (yes, I sometimes find bad coffee comforting in a twisted way).  The milk nearly over powered the coffee, but not totally.  The schiuma was good, rich, bitter and chocolatey.

But you know what?  This coffee is about the experience, it’s about everything weird and awesome you can do in New York.  Going to a cafe in a chinatown gourmet deli?  It’s just a taste of this lovely city.

Would you drink a hot beverage on a hot day?  Or do you reach for iced drinks when the temperature climb?

Nolita Mart & Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon


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