Caffeination Destination: O Cafe
Disclaimer: to avoid confusion, these “Caffeination Destination” posts do not only apply to Chicago cafes.
There’s a new cafe in town (in the Village, what else is new?), and it’s pretty damn good. Now all of us have the opportunity to try some coffee beans, not to mention chocolate, straight from Brazil.
Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, Stumptown… all these are fine and dandy, but it’s always exciting to know that there is a coffee culture outside the U.S.– where the beans are sourced from. Where it all began.
O Cafe is “big” for a New York cafe, which is to say there is seating space (no bathroom, though!). The lighting and polished wood give it a meditative quality, evoking more of a “tea ceremony”-like atmosphere than a coffee one.
But forget the tea– here, pourover drippers are serenely posed over glass decanters. The peaberry I tried was unbelievable– rich and chocolatey, like drinking espresso in drip coffee form, with some underlying raspberry notes.
Of course, espresso shines here as well, with perfectly poured latte art. (The one occasion where MOOG’s cappuccino seemed “less-than-perfect,” the owner (Fernando Aciar, Brazilian chef/baker) asked, “do you drink cappuccinos?” When MOOG responded “yes,” he made us another on the house.)
Speaking of baking, let’s talk pastries, shall we? I love grungy hipster cafes as much as the next person, but their pre-packaged, plastic-wrapped sandwiches that sit for hours under the fluorescent light of the refrigerator case are hard to get excited about. O Cafe in the morning is a plethora of smells: the addictive aroma of freshly ground beans, the cheese that goes into their bread known as pão de queijo, and the spicy apples that fill their rustic fruit tarts.
Although I think I’m missing the “dessert gene,” MOOG and FOOG could not stop raving about these fruit tarts. MOOG insisted that the crust was whole wheat, yet impossibly flaky. The filling itself was a mixture of apples and Korean pears, baked until soft but still slightly crunchy. The entire tart was then sprinkled with coarse grains of raw cane sugar.
And after two visits, we still hadn’t tried the chocolate! In addition to chocolate bars, O offers a variety of chocolate drinks, listing their cacao content in percentages. Of course, what is essentially a sophisticated, single-source mocha is also available.
But I can’t help it. I’m a purist. At the end of the day all I want some of those peaberry beans (which, by the way, are only sold in 6 ounce bags).
Get to O before it gets too crowded.