The Mini Adventure.
I like coffee, I like cycling, so let’s merge them together to make one daft adventure. Let’s cycle all five boroughs of New York City and hunt down the finest coffee blends in some of New Yorks top-notch coffee establishments.
My ride will take me to – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Who will have the best coffee on this side of the coast? Find out as I travel the 45 mile round trip with my trusty single speed bike – The Governor.
Fortunately I don’t have to go far to hunt down good coffee in my neighborhood. Williamsburg is a mecca for coffee shops and cafes. I have over ten, yes, ten coffee shops in walking distance from my apartment. So where do I go on my first stop? Gimme, Oslo, Toby’s Estate? After plenty of time spent searching the Google, coffee blogs and NYC news articles, they pointed me towards the same cafe – Blue Bottle Coffee.
$2.75 a cup.
Delicious house blend.
Genuinely friendly & Knowledgeable staff.
Not only does it sell incredible coffee, brewed by highly skilled baristas, it also boasts a coffee roastery in the same building. You can’t get fresher than that.
Staten Island isn’t known for its coffee culture, unlike it’s neighbors Brooklyn or Manhattan. This is going to be a challenge all by itself. I had one shop in mind called the Full Cup, but when I arrived there, unfortunately it was closed for renovation. Where do I go now? After an hour of cycling around the island I gave up, they just don’t do coffee shops except for the regular lackluster chains. On my way back to the ferry, I noticed the grand opening of a brand new coffee shop – ‘Beans and Leaves’. My prayers had been answered, my second coffee of the day… and a very large brownie.
Beans and Leaves
422 Forest Ave
New York, NY 10301, Map
$1.25 a cup.
Brownies to die for, just what I needed after a long slog up Forrest Hill avenue.
Warm, welcoming staff.
I wasn’t taken back with the inside decor, a bit to ‘mom’s kitchen’ for me. A pleasant little neighborhood hang out with a great selection of teas, coffees, and sugary treats. A wonderful surprise, and a far cry from the Starbucks which is located around the corner. Definitely worth a ride over to the Island for.
Oh jeez, where do I start? Manhattan is awash with great coffee joints and picking one was going to be tough. After researching and talking to friends, Cafe Grumpy was named over and over again. I headed up to Chelsea via the Hudson River bike pathway to find out why.
$3.25 and up
A huge selection of coffee on offer.
Garden out back.
Not the experience I was hoping for, I found the staff to be extremely patronising and rude. I wasn’t sure if it was all an act because of cafe Grumpy’s name or what. The only redeeming qualities about the cafe was the coffee, it was exceptionally good, and the gorgeous front exterior of the cafe fitted into the surrounding vibe of the neighborhood.
Good grief, it was hard enough to find a coffee shop in Staten Island and now I have to go to the Bronx which is also not known for their local coffee shops. Bad luck again, the one I was heading to looked like it had closed down. A google on the iPhone led me to an alternative, luckily I wasn’t too far away from Arthur Avenue, the home of Little Italy in the Bronx. Forget about the tourist trap of Little Italy in Manhattan, this is the real deal. Home to The Monrones Pastry Shop, it wasn’t a coffee shop as such, but it had espresso and gelato, and that was good enough for me.
Morrone Pastry Shop
2349 Arthur Avenue,
Bronx, NY, Map
A hair raising cycle down fifth Avenue, fueled on by four coffees and an abundance of sugary treats. Crossing the East river in to my final borough on this tour – Queens. I arrived at my last stop of this monumental coffee run – Sweetleaf. I pick their house blend and settled down for one last brew. At this point I was feeling a tad sick from all the coffee and suger, I forced it down me,
A 45 mile round trip done and dusted, and for the first time in my life I have visited all five boroughs of New York City, and all done in one single day.
Which was the best? Without a doubt it had to be Blue Bottle Coffee, but I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of Sweefleaf and Beans in Leaves.
This is what adventures are all about, would I ever have gone to Arthur Avenue before now? Probably not, now I shall be taking regular trips up to the Bronx for authentic Italian food, what a treat, the find of the day. I was shocked to learn that many New Yorkers haven’t heard about the area either.
If you are up for the challenge, love coffee and don’t want to sleep for 24 hours due to an intake of coffee. Try the NYC Coffee Cycle Challenge. I’ve posted my map below for you to get started.
Started: Jul 25, 2012 10:06:31
Ride Time: 3:24:16
Stopped Time: 4:00:09
Distance: 45.44 miles
Average Speed: 13.35 mph
Fastest Speed: 35.53 mph
Ascent: 1774 feet
Descent: 2022 feet