Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick; where do you think the next cool — and momentarily cheap — area of New York will be? While we’ve been hearing about Williamsburg for so long that the neighborhood is well-beaten and, dare I say it, passé, Greenpoint and Bushwick are still pretty new. At least, they seem that way to me.
Where you find the neighborhoods with cheaper rents and young people, that’s where you’ll find the good coffee. It’s not only in New York; look at The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen’s once-dodgy Nørrebro neighborhood or Black Market Coffee in Paris’s 18th arrondisment. Unfortunately, it means that those of us who will go anywhere for a good cup of coffee, must truly go anywhere for a good cup of coffee, even if it means the G train or a walk along Rue du Poulet.
Propeller coffee is worth the awkward train ride or hair rising bike ride to get to. It’s spacious, huge really, especially when compared to other New York coffee shops. From the outside, it’s unassuming. The awning is pleasantly weathered and you can see people sipping on their coffee in the window. Once you enter, however, you realize that Propeller doesn’t offer only one room for enjoying coffee, oh no. There are two rooms, filled with stylishly mis-matched seats and calming white walls. Unlike some cafes that feel like caves, Propeller is open and inviting.
The menu is also fun. While so many cafes fall into offering the same old, same old, Propeller perks it up without alienating the customer. Instead of offering just an americano, there’s a long black on the menu as well. They have a flat white, regular macchiato and long macchiato. I quickly chose a long macchiato and found a corner seat near some framed cat-photos while I waited.
When they handed me a glass and a little saucer of steamed milk on the side, I was quite surprised. I expected the milk to be added and for the drink to be longer. Putting my apprehensions aside, I took a sip before adding in any milk. Citrusy! I added in about half the milk they gave me, tasted it and then poured in a drop more before arriving at my perfect coffee experience.
The coffee was good, a bit acidic, but not in a bad way. What really made the drink stand out, however, was the ability to add the milk yourself. Perhaps its because I learnt this control freak behavior in Italy, but I’ve become accustomed to choosing how much milk to put in my drink. So often cafes add too much milk and ruin an otherwise perfectly fine espresso. While I can’t say I hope that cafes just start serving me an espresso and a small pitcher of milk, it was a fun break from traditional New York style.
Greenpoint might still be an awkward neighborhood to live in — has anyone ever seen the G train? — but it’s earning a reputation as an enclave of brilliant coffee. If you’re looking for a fun excursion in NYC, a coffee tour of Greenpoint is perfect.
Do you believe that a good neighborhood needs a good coffee shop?