This was my first coffee shop in New York and though it's listed as #10 in the Big Apple I was severely disappointed. The coffee tasted like a burnt variety of Vittoria (who ironically also make bicycle tyres - the flavour is similar). And the milk was horrendously frothed. To be honest, I'm not sure how this cafe even made it on to beanhunter. But, I guess each to their own. Don't go here for coffee. And don't go here if you don't want to pay an arm and a leg for food.
Ah, OK. The A.Cafe has fallen. I wanted it to be a one-off occurrence, but sadly after 4 visits hoping the previous bad experiences had been an abomination, I realise now that the cafe has changed. They still have the equipment, they still get good beans. But, they seem to have stopped employing artisan baristas. The baristas can no longer discuss points about under extraction, bitterness v sourness or tasting notes. They have not heard of dialing in and when questioned about a coffee being under-extracted suggested firstly that they could put it back under the machine and press the button again. They had no concept that grind, temperature, time, amount of coffee or time of extraction would change the taste and that they would need to make adjustments everyday to make it work. It was Barrista by numbers I'm afraid. It looks like the staffing of the cafe has been absorbed into the hotel above. Better than Starbucks, mostly. But not always. Keep an eye on it, it could change in a blink of an eye if they start hiring artisan baristas again.
A.cafe was a great little find thanks to beanhunter app in midtown NYC. They have a great 3 group la marzocco, mazzer grinders and a clover machine. They use the toscano blend by counter culture. I ordered a Machioto which had a nice rich caramel and chocolate taste and was very smooth and sweet! The interior is a bit minimalist for my liking but the coffee is first rate and worth the quick walk down 58th street if your shopping on 5th avenue or staying nearby.
Possibly related to the AKA hotel it sits under, A.Cafe is nothing like a hotel cafe. There is a menu of different single origin coffees available on the Clover Press. Or, stick to the espresso with lovingly created microfoam to turn it into a delightful flatwhite. With NY summer temperatures testing the upper ranges most customers were flocking to the iced coffees (see photo). The decor is slick and designer. This works in the cafe bar area (love the directional frosted windows), but looks a little cold in the seated area. Staff were happy and willing to indulge questions from a blow in patron like me. They might be a little shy though. I'm looking forward to my next trip there. It also has free wifi. PS: the Barrista pulled off a neat trick. She dosed and tamped the hammer and then with a quick flick of her wrist spun it around in the air to flick off any loose grounds on the rim.
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