When I was younger, I thought it tasted like shit. Perhaps it was because I was drinking shitty coffee.
Most people still do. They drown acrid, burnt brew from Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts with milk and sugar until it resembles a melted coffee-flavored milkshake and then go around saying it tastes great.
My friends at NYC Velo are ultimately responsible for shifting my attention to good coffee. As self proclaimed coffee dorks, they always have great beans in the shop. They appreciated and cultivated relationships with many of the new artisan roasters in the USA, and experiencing them takes you to an entirely new plane of coffee consumption. Naturally, they invested in great machinery (A Giotto and Mini-Mazzer) to make sure the beans were properly transformed.
Every now and then our friend Ben (manager and barista trainer at Think Coffee) would show up and start creating artful concoctions. He introduced me to my favorite espresso-based beverage, the Cortado.
On the sliding scale coffee-to-milk ratios, the Cortado sits between the Macchiato and the Cappuccino. Equal parts steamed milk and espresso, typically served in a small low-ball glass. I think its the perfect balance. The espresso flavors shine through, and that bit of milk is the perfect compliment.
The drink itself varies from culture to culture. Head to Cuba and they just toss condensed milk in there for good measure (I’m not complaining…)
Ordering a Cortado is my de facto test when trying out a new coffee spot. If it’s on the menu, it’s a good sign. If they reply “What’s a Cortado?” well, not so good.
A few weeks ago I noticed a new coffee joint had opened around the corner from my girlfriend’s place in Astoria. It looked promising and we were eager to try it. We finally did this weekend.
The Queens Kickshaw is a great looking concept, and the owners are proper coffee nerds. Walk in and you’re greeted with shiny new marzocco equipment. They keep it clean. they dont let grounds sit in the grinder. They have a great drip set up as well. The coffee is interesting and sourced by local roasters. The food is made up of a focused yet varied grilled cheese menu.
And they make a mean Cortado.