Why can I not get a decent espresso in Carroll Gardens or Cobble Hill?
I mean, they're trendy neighborhoods full of Yuppies who are obsessed with gustatory goodness. These are the ideal traits needed to engender a New York espresso haven, are they not? Plus, it's a neighborhood with a rich Italian heritage, and the espresso is an Italian thing. All this notwithstanding, not only can I not get a decent espresso, I can not even avoid an incredibly lousy one.
You'll have to forgive my irritability on this subject, but I recently returned from Italy, where, day after day, I ordered and consumed flawless and delicious espressos one after another. Not a dud in the bunch. Tight, short, dark and topped with beautiful cremas. Here, espressos are pulled so long you could swim in them.
At the Bagel Cafe near Carroll Park, you'll be given an "espresso" possessing the same mass and consistency as a regular cup of American java. The Coffee Den on Union and Hicks is equally unskilled at controlling the unbridled flow of their espressos, regularly serving them slack and sloppy. The guys at D'Amico, the old family coffee grinders on Court Street, know what an espresso should look like, and are fairly conscientious about getting the beverage right. But since the espressos are made with D'Amico coffee—which, I have pointed out before, I do not care for—it hardly matters.
Le Petit Cafe, Brooklyn Bread Cafe, Marquet, Sam's, Melissa's—I have had decent, but not thrilling espressos at each. And nobody seems to be really paying attention as they pull the coffee. There used to be one place in the area where you could be assured of getting a great espresso. It was a cafe at the corner of Henry and Union which lived for a short time under the awkward name of Henry's Cafe. It was run by two earnest and friendly Israelis. They served Bristot coffee and were intensely serious about delivering fine cups of coffee. Very often, the owners themselves would pull the espressos for regular customers, not trusting such an important task to their employees. It was beautiful.
But they left and sold the place to a new owner who hasn't much feel for the bean. He made a good move by contracting La Colombe, the fantastic coffee the comes out of Philadelphia—a coup in a neighborhood where no one currently carries La Colombe. But it's all for naught since the espressos aren't being made properly, despite the fact that the staff were given a tutorial by the La Colombe people. The espresso I had yesterday almost reached the lip of the cup. I stared in wonder at it. It was such a depressing sight.