The short answer is yes -- at least according to the national Krups Cup O' Joe Awards announced last week. The coffee-machine/appliance maker surveyed coffee aficionados in ten cities (and also polled 250 New Yorkers to find the best sips in each borough). The winner in Manhattan was MudTRUCK, which in 2001 became that city's first coffee truck and is now a brick-and-mortar MudSPOT too. The excellent Blue Bottle Coffee Co. took top honors in San Francisco. And taking first prize in our fair city: News Café.
News Café? I headed there this morning and tried a cup o' joe.
It was better than I'd expected. My waiter informed me that it was Lavazza. He had no idea that Krups had called it the best in show. "I don't really drink coffee," he admitted, "but customers seem to like it." It was a strong brew, served hot. My only complaint was the nondairy creamer accompanying with it, but milk is brought upon request.
"It's a special dark roast," Al Serrano told me. Serrano is News Café's beverage manager, and has been with Soyka since the beginning some 20 years ago. He also hadn't heard about the Krups accolade. "People come here from Europe and South America," he explained, "and they want a robust cup of coffee." He showed me the machines, which are fairly high-tech for coffee-makers. "We grind it and make it fresh all day. Mark [Soyka] is from New York, and he is adamant about his coffee."
I asked Serrano how many cups News Café sold on an average day. He had to think about it for a bit and then took what was admittedly a ballpark guess: "A couple of hundred a day easily." He admitted to drinking "at least a couple a day" himself.
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The bottomless cup goes for $2.75, with tax it's $3, and with automatic 15 percent gratuity, the bill came to $3.41. Of course you're paying for not only the brew but also the setting: a front-row seat on Ocean Drive and all it entails.
As I said, it's a very satisfying cup of coffee. Best in town? Nah. But in fairness to those Miamians surveyed, they really didn't have a place like Blue Bottle they could name in News's place. We sorely need one. Talk of such establishments opening keep reaching our ears (Panther, will you anther?). But as of now, we wait.