Coffee's the hot trend in NYC these days. - New York Times photo
Coffee seems to be hot on the scene of late. Everywhere I turn there's multiple mentions about new brewing techniques, single-origin roasts, fair-trade practices, organic blends, decent decaf on the rise (finally!), and more. Just this week alone Starbucks announced a distinctive campaign tagged BOLD that features an exclusive roast each week for 8 weeks in total and caters to different "coffee personalities". Each week has it's own graphic stamp-sized sticker. Try each of the 8 coffees and get a free lb of coffee. Not a bad marketing campaign (though I'm personally partial to many of the smaller spots sprinkled around the city).
The first coffee featured in Starbucks' BOLD campaign.
And speaking of those smaller coffee spots, the New York Times has an opinion as well. Check out their picks from yesterday's article here.
So what's the real bottom line with coffee? Healthy? Not-so-healthy? Uber-caffeinated? Eco-conscious or eco-consumption?
Here's the DL:
* Health factor: Go ahead and drink up! Coffee's loaded with antioxidants. In fact, studies find that it's the greatest source of daily antioxidants for most Americans (tells you something about our fruit & veg intake!). Both decaf and regular coffee provide the same amount of antioxidants. Coffee may also help lower risk of developing diabetes and Alzheimer's and can increase energy and mental focus.
* The downfalls: Too much of a good thing and you're jittery, anxious, possibly dehydrated (if you've completely foregone water for coffee all day). Coffee may raise blood pressure and throw off sleep patterns if you're consuming excessive amounts. Stick to 1 to 3 smallish cups a day, curb caffeine after 3 or 4pm if you're sensitive and you're golden. * Calories??: Coffee on it's own, plain and simple is a whopping ZERO calories. Tack on sugary sweet syrups, whipped cream, have a venti-sized latte made with whole milk every morning and yes, you'll take a 0 calorie coffee to 200, 300 or 400 calories in no time.
*Milk & sugar: Go black, or stick with a small amount of whole milk (or half & half on indulgent occasions!), low-fat, skim or soy. Less milk allows you do grab the whole milk without doing much damage. If you're doing a latte, make it a small and go low-fat or less frequently whole milk for an indulgent - yet filling - beverage. If you like your coffee light and sweet, 1 packet of sugar in the raw has a mere 16 calories...grab it and leave the artificial sweeteners behind.
A few of my own favorite coffee spots around town:
*OST Cafe - A shout out to my neighbors Alex and Aaron, the owners of this cozy, comfy spot that's always buzzing thanks to the free Wifi. Serving up free-trade Intelligentsia coffee (so good!). 441 East 12th Street (Avenue A), (212) 477-5600, ostcafenyc.com
*Gimme! Coffee - My newly found obsession. Hipster coffee, small space, cool crowd on Mott St. Perfect coffee break spot when you're shopping around Nolita. 228 Mott Street (Prince Street), NoLIta, (212) 226-4011; 495 Lorimer Street (Powers Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn, (718) 388-7771; gimmecoffee.com.
*Stumptown Coffee Roasters at the Ace Hotel - Super-cool spot tucked next to the Euro-chic Ace Hotel. Great direct trade coffee out of Portland. 18 West 29th Street (Broadway), no telephone, stumptowncoffee.com.
*Abraco - another East Village gem, I'm not partial or anything, serving up stellar cappuccinos and drip coffee in a tiny (constantly packed) space. What would you expect in the East Village?!
86 East Seventh Street (First Avenue), no telephone, abraconyc.com.