At some point circa 16 years old, I discovered coconut coffee and started drinking it regularly. Having lived across the highway and then some from the nearest Dunkin Donuts, I would drive there early on Monday Mornings to buy one of those extra massive 36-oz cups and a few 8 oz cups to match. Then, I'd keep the larger container in my parents fridge and heat up a cup each morning for the next 3-4 days, satisfying my teenage sweet tooth. After a few weeks of this, however, even my immature taste buds knew something was wrong. Apparently, old coffee isn't as tasty as a freshly brewed cup. Who'd a thunk it?
That was my first early lesson on a good cup o' joe: freshly brewed is best. And of course, freshly ground is even better. And good, filtered water is an absolute must.
Over the course of time, I went through various coffee phases. During college, thanks to a hefty monthly food allowance (hey, Dad!) I enjoyed the daily consumption of skinny vanilla lattes from Starbucks. Post college and no longer free-wheeling it off my parents' funds, I formed a McDonald's coffee addiction (and a hash brown one, too, but that's for a different day). Surprisingly, Mccy D's has a solid cup of coffee and it's always $1, regardless the size. But when I really want a good caffeine fix, I go to Rook in my hometown. Without going too deep into the rabbit hole regarding my undying love and obsession with Rook coffee, let me just put it simply: it's the best cup of coffee you will ever taste. They treat coffee beans like any other crop and buy seasonally. They pack the beans in single-serving airtight containers to preserve freshness. And then they make you a freshly ground, freshly brewed (in, of course, good filtered water) delicious cup of coffee. No lattes, no cappuccinos, no frills. Just good coffee from around the world.
So, NOW, with the understanding that there is, very unfortunately, no Rook in NYC (yet!), allow me to suggest my personal favorite coffee joints in the big apple.
For a single-drip AND the best espresso: JOE COFFEE
Quite honestly, if I was giving an award for best experience, it would also go to Joe's. Each shop I have visited is inviting, clean and friendly.
For a solid cup and a bite: BIRCH
Always bustling, always reliable.
For that french-press craving: GREGORY'S
I'm a french-press fiend. When brewed correctly, it's richer and stronger and I can buzz 12 hours off of it.
For something fancy.. MAGNOLIA BAKERY
Magnolia Bakery does lattes like nobody's business. For a hint of luxury, go late morning on a Saturday, order the chai latte, add a famous cupcake to your order, and then sit back and enjoy breakfast overlooking one of the many cute streets Magnolia happens to be situated on (Ahem, Columbus and W 69th!)
For the best iced coffee... MOLLYS MILK TRUCK
Available in whole foods and (eventually) most bodegas, this is hands down the best iced coffee you'll ever taste. It has almond milk, agave and some spice to it, but the shot of espresso (RedEye version) really takes it over the top. Plus, Molly's is the ONLY coffee I can consume when hungover - it's that good.
**when in doubt or when looking for an affordable and reliable option, I always go with street cart coffee. Not only is the cart on 51&7th serving up delicious coffee, but there's nothing quite like putting money directly into the hands of the guy pouring you a cup o joe!