The Great Soho Coffee Tour
July 7, 2015
by Adam Rotstein, Associate, Research & Consulting
It hit us while we were racking our brains over some afternoon coffee. What should we, a bunch of qualitative researchers who love visiting coffee shops, study next? Duh.
So we took out a map of our beloved neighborhood and charted our game plan. We would only look at places that identify primarily as cafes-- independent coffee shops or small chains. Then we’d test for roast texture, branding, friendliness, and workability. And so it began, the great SoHo Coffee Tour of 2015.
Every afternoon, we chose a spot to visit at around the same time to order roughly the same things. We asked the same questions: “Where do you roast your beans?” “Are these baked in house?” More obnoxiously, “Do you make latte art with almond milk?” Then we took our seats and simply imbibed.
Sit, stir, sip. Repeat.
141 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10014
Joe is very, very cool. Some of us had been to the one inside Grand Central, which is more of a nook and less of a coffee shop. It turns out that they clean up and build out quite well. The branding style was subtle, consistent, and totally on point. Our in-house designer was blown away by the casual nuance that was so perfectly understated. Perhaps most importantly, the drip coffee here was the best out of the ones we tried. We were particularly blown away by the sediment that floated at the top of the coffee --that's what separates a great cup of coffee from a phenomenal one. The music was slow and experimental and the four of us left Joe just a tad more hip.
75 Vandam St, New York, NY 10013
By now you’ve probably heard of this small chain that began in Philadelphia. These “torrefactions” (their word, of course) are taking lower Manhattan by storm. The space is large and open, like a vibrant beer hall and the seating is abundant and simple. The coffee is good, to be sure, but it was also the most expensive cup we sampled. Oh yeah, and there is a seltzer tap.
350 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
This trendy little chain was an obvious choice because it’s literally around the corner from our office. The logo is awesome, the pastries are alluring and the space is open and littered with funky decorations. Bravo. Hanging out there was like spending time in a communal coffee shop of a beloved sitcom. We definitely stayed there longer than we meant to.
Whether it's a WiFi hotspot, a workday pit stop, or a weekend parlor, the potential for a good coffee shop knows no bounds. You might say a neighborhood is only as good as its best coffee shop. We’ll just say we’re glad we work where we do.
Are you interested in other SoHo food and beverage reviews? Check out our post about West Village pizza places. You won't be disappointed.
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