Step aside, Seattle; we’re betting you can’t get a better cup of coffee than in Kingston. In the past decade, a delectable crop of specialty coffee bars and cafes have sprouted up in the city, proffering a rich variety of the best of the world’s coffees, be they a dark roast, flavored brew, organic, or decaf. The pastries and in some cases lunch entrees are home made, often baked on site, and the setting is congenial, with local artists’ work on the walls and comfy couches. Here’s a closer look at the city’s barista culture:
Monkey Joe Roasting Company Inc., located in a charming, largely intact 1906 former oyster bar with tiled floor, tin ceiling and original wainscoting at 468 Broadway, is a European-style coffee bar that roasts its own beans, imbuing the air of Midtown with a distinctive fragrance. “We’re a single-origin roaster,” said co-owner Gabe Cicale, explaining that each coffee is from a particular region or farm. Monkey Joe sells coffee by the pound and also wholesales to restaurants, cafes and shops.
Gabe and Kathy from Monkey Joe's
In mid January, Monkey Joe was featured in the newsletter published by Terra Coffee, an internationally recognized sustainable coffee farm in Brazil. And this spring, its coffee will hit the big screen, with a product placement and credit in a new romantic comedy entitled Almost Perfect. Cicale said last October he met the producers of a film being shot in midtown Kingston, and he asked them if they ever catered coffee for the staff. By a strange coincidence, the next day he got a call from another producer based in New York asking whether Monkey Joe would supply the coffee for a film being shot in the Big Apple. “They liked the name, and they wanted to use a local company,” he said. Open Mon. through Fri., 6:30-6, and Sat. 7:30-4.
Dolce, located at 27 Broadway in the Rondout, serves authentic Italian espresso—proprietor Alessandra Tecchio was born and raised in Italy—and coffee from local roaster Catskill Mountain Organic. Besides café au lait, latte, and other coffee drinks, she offers hot chocolate from her own mix, with homemade marshmallows. Tecchio bakes all her own tea breads, muffins, scones and cookies, and the lunch fare consists of crepes, sandwiches, soups and paninis. The brick walls are hung with the fauve paintings of Kingston scenes by local artist Todd Samara. Dolce is open Wed-Sun from 8am to 4pm.
Hudson Coffee Traders, at 288 Wall St., also features paintings by Samara, as well as a rotunda room (the space was a former bank) featuring revolving art shows. There’s free WIFI and the space is frequently used for meetings by local businesses. Co-owner Donna Brooks said she pays a premium for the single-origin coffees she gets from a micro roaster, which obtains the beans directly from the farm. There’s always a dark roast, and the selection reflects the different coffee growing seasons around the world. The baristas have to undergo several months of training to become masters of serving up the lattes, whose foam of steamed milk is embellished with a flower or fern-like design.
- Hudson Coffee Traders
Hudson Coffee Traders also serves Harney & Sons teas, a Millerton-based tea company that wraps loose tea in a silk sachet, preserving its freshness in a paper packet. The scones and lemon bites are supplied by the Alternative Baker (formerly of Kingston, now in Rosendale), and the café serves egg wraps, sandwiches and soups. Open Mon.-Fri. 7-5:30, Sat. 8-4, Sun. 8-2.
Gabriel’s Café & Bakery, which occupies an old-fashioned store front and elegant, high ceilinged side room at 50 John St., is as popular for its food as for its coffee. Owner Gabe Vasquez, a native of Columbia, bakes all the bread and pastries, which includes croissants on Saturday, using organic flour and grains and free-range eggs. The huevas rancheros is served all day and is a favorite among regulars. The substantial lunch menu includes specials, and Gabe said his is planning to offer more eclectic, Ltin American entries in the near future. Currently the photo montages of Maggie Sherwood, the late founder of the Floating Foundation of Photography, the iconic purple houseboat docked in Manhattan, are on display. Open Mon.-Friday from 8:30-4:30 and Sat. from 9:30-3:30.
Dominick’s Café at Dream Weavers (the hair salon next door) occupies the corner of Wall and North Front Sts., its mirrored bar and spacious dining area a favorite place for locals and the occasional tourist to settle down over coffee or lunch with a newspaper. The desserts, biscotti and pastries are all made on the premises. Owner Dominick Vanacore said the coffee beans are obtained from Chris’s Coffee, a micro roaster based in Albany, and the daily selection always includes a dark roast. The café also serves soups, paninis, and substantial lunch specials, such as turkey meatloaf with spinach and grilled chicken. Dominick’s also does catering, putting together lunches for visiting pharmaceutical reps at doctor’s offices and serving private parties up to 40 people. Open Mon.-Sat., from 7:30 – 7 and Sun. from 9-4.