When I first moved to the city it was one furnished sublet rental after another. For one thing, I wasn’t going to pay any predatory fees to a rental broker. For another, I’m way too indecisive to just pick a neighborhood in the vast landscape of NYC to settle down. So, a suitcase in each hand, I moved from neighborhood to neighborhood through Brooklyn and Manhattan over the years.
Somehow the pattern changed once I discovered the East Village. Any housing I got was still temporary but I was spending more energy doing what I could to make sure the next apartment was there. There was something about the culture, the graffiti, and its seedy past. Where affordable housing clashed with narcotics versus the modern incarnation of a high-rent neighborhood with Ramen on every block and outsourced housing to the NYU student population.
It’s vibrant and never boring. It’s home to legendary Tompkins Square Park where you can check out a show in the courtyard, smoke weed on the lawn, or workout in one of the best fitness parks in the city.
You can also get amazing coffee. I don’t get to return there often since I have to take care of little Sip, but whenever I can I fight the urge to go back to my favorite spot, Ninth Street Espresso, in favor of trying one of the new guys. Today it was The Coffee Project NY on 5th St. A passion-project put together by baristas and serving up brew in Manhattan and Brooklyn: they work on the next-gen coffee beverage, putting together deconstructed lattes and nitro flights.
I was in the mood for coffee though- and checked out the pourover list. There was an Ethiopian variety on the menu and after ordering, snacked on a zucchini muffin as the barista went to work weighing out the perfect pour.
It’s a narrow and cozy space, as are most coffee shops in this area, with a welcome preference for discouraging laptop warriors from turning a table into their home office. So if you are there, be respectful of the “laptop/tablet free” signs and, I don’t know, maybe try having a conversation with the person sitting next to you or something.
The pourover was pricey at over $5 and yet somewhat underwhelming. I gravitate towards Ethiopian coffees as their beans tend to contain the best combination of bold chocolate flavors and fruity notes. This coffee, while tasting fine, did not really have any complexity of taste or surprises as I sipped it down. Turns out The Coffee Project is a few blocks south of 9th St in more way than one.
All credit due though- they’re deconstructed lattes do look interesting and I’ll have to return to give their latte creations a whirl as this seems to be what they’re famous for.
The buzz was for real though and I ran through the old spots to relive the glory of the village. Thomkins Square park was first up on my list. The jungle gym serves as a great adult workout area where you can train alongside the Kavaldo Brothers or the legendary Marcus Bondi.
After a good workout I hit up Honest Chops, which is the East Village’s go-to butcher shop for grass-fed locally pastured, Halal meat (including fantastic marrow bones for those looking to make bone broth).