Zibetto Espresso Bar
1385 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY
Manhattan Gourmet 56
1377 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY
A sunny 86F day in NYC with nothing to do in the morning. A perfect setup for a casual walk in Manhattan and to grab a simple breakfast to enjoy on the benches of Central Park. As a die-hard addict in need of a stiff cup of coffee in the morning, my first stop after bypassing those dreadful Starbucks outlets was Zibetto. Essentially a long narrow space that couldn’t be more than eight feet wide and anchored by a sleek looking, white tiled and similarly colored marble counter-top bar accented with some metallic touches, it fit with my mental image of an Italian espresso bar.
Staffed with some slick looking, white shirted gents efficiently buzzing around behind the bar, there was already a strong lineup in place, as well as some other customers enjoying their cups of hot liquid at the tiny armrest like shelves jutting out from the walls. Clearly, its a place to have your drink in a jiffy, no lounging around here sucking up free wi-fi or anything and generally disrupting the business need of turnover on the part of the proprietors.
1326-8368 Capstan Way
Richmond, BC V6X 4B4
In the Asian ethno-burb of Richmond, BC, just south of this city, is a cafe that serves up a decidedly Asian take on specialty coffee. La Cuisson serves coffee crafted in a Vacpot…like at the multitude of European-style premium coffee shops in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and other large metropolitan cities in Asia. In that continent, the espresso machine is not the preferred device of extraction at premium coffee shops (though admittedly it is increasingly more popular)…there, the Vacpot is king.
The Vacpot (also called a “syphon”) is not a new device – it evolved in Europe in the early 19th century from lamp assisted percolators. Early patent drawings from the 18oo’s illustrate vacuum brewers that are nearly identical to modern designs. It remains to this day the most popular method of extraction in many European countries. The Vacpot was a popular method for brewing coffee in this continent until the 1950’s when more modern devices became available.
The Vacpot method is time consuming and labour intensive. This method will not fly in the world of espresso to-go – it takes a few minutes to prepare one cup.
Coffee here is meant to be a “civilized”, leisurely drink. The coffees are served in china settings – somewhat anachronistic and quaint in a city used to paper cups and thermal mugs. I haven’t checked if WiFi was available here (it certainly would be incongruous with the vibe anyway). They do have an espresso machine in the shop if you prefer….but it is relegated to a secondary role – almost an afterthought.
La Cuisson is a labour of love for Taiwanese ex-pat Jason Wu, the coffee-obsessed proprietor. This place looks almost like a museum of coffee esoterica. In his storefront window, is a collection of steampunkish Japanese cold-brewers, odd looking coffee gadgets and other such collectibles. He also roasts his own beans on-site in an Italian made roaster. You can often catch him roasting if you pop in before they open (which by the way, is at a leisurely time of 1:00pm…surprisingly late for a caffeine addicted city such as ours).