Plowshares Coffee Roasters, Bloomingdale: The Achiever
(Upper West Side - New York, NY, USA)
I made few notes while at this Upper West Side hole in the wall but what I did write was – there is such a thing as specialty coffee in New York. It was more of an emotional reaction, than anything. Like coming inside from a blizzard to be greeted with a warm burning fire. You finish your coffee, and all you can do is smile. Relief, comfort, respite. Prior to departing Sydney I spend as many hours possible between jobs, on the way to work, on my lunch break and annoying the network of barista-turned-friends for East Coast coffee advice and managed but some vague etchings. Finding this place was not the fruit of labour, but on the throw away suggestion of my German hostel dorm buddy, Jonathan who was later subject to Aeropress drinking duties.
The batch brew, or drip coffee as they call it, is by far the popular drink. With two single origins on rotation there is plenty of choice on offer. The espresso house blends are the A-Train and the D-Train (decaf) affectionately named after arteries of the NYC Subway network. The A-Train is a harmonious co-operation of East African and Central American beans. It is smooth with chocolate notes; a berry after-bite and low acidity make it a hearty companion with milk and a superstar when taken black.
To the pleasure of black coffee purists and single-origin fiends, the single-origins are by far where Plowshares stand out. The Costa Rica, Finca Gamboa, Red Catuai variety, Kenyan Double Washed process, filter roast is a crisp well-rounded offering. The double-washed process is notable, revealing woody and toasted granola notes, nectarine sweetness and minimal acidity.
Compared directly to the popular Australian pendant drop light trend, the stage light aesthetics were an interior focal point. They gave the place industrial vibes and embodied the character of the bright lighted, show-stopping city. A wonderful human behind the counter named Taylor bestows local knowledge of New York’s specialty coffee contingent. For a mammoth city like no other, New York’s 100-strong specialty establishments are scattered so far and few between, it’s like sifting cocaine from a bag of flour – near impossible to find without tools (and friends)! Like most curations go, the list is subject to personal preference, some more chain-like than others but all independent. Unlike Starbucks, there’s no guaranteed WiFi at these places so you just might have to look at someone ...and maybe have a conversation. The list is not to be overlooked with Australian expats onside and getting their (coffee) grind on. Boy are we grateful. So there you go. Great, nay incredible coffee in New York, is there if you want to find it.