Location: 180 10th Ave at 20th St.
With a name drawn from a somewhat archaic term defining a social class of intellectuals whom strove to drive the progression of culture and politics, Intelligentsia Coffee has carved itself a place in the ever-shifting landscape of New York City. After staking its claim in both the Los Angeles and Chicago circuits of high-end coffee, their first location in the city is only a stone’s throw away from the amazingly scenic High Line park. To sweeten the deal, a refurbished coffee truck blazened with their brand sits right outside, acting as both secondary venue and visually striking indication of the quality wares that await inside.
In the past few times that I’ve been to this place over the last year, the dark wood interiors, galvanized metal counters, and constantly rotating collection of vintage tabletop conversation pieces really instill an intriguing and quirky decor.
The rather upscale image of the hotel itself guarantees a certain level of civility when you choose to come in for a drink.
The choice to establish themselves inside the High Line Hotel was a clever one. By being close to the park that shares its name, the hotel ensures that the area nearby will have a healthy throughput of people coming through the area; however, the rather upscale image of the hotel itself guarantees a certain level of civility when you choose to come in for a drink. The baristas give care and due diligence to each order that comes in, and the clientele responds accordingly.
Of course, if one’s going to stand a little straighter and project a little more decorum, then it’s only appropriate to try things that are appropriate for the mood, right? La Perla de Oaxaca, one of Intelligentsia’s most successful single origin coffees that’s offered every year in mid-Spring out of Mexico, is a wonderfully smooth brew that doesn’t blow your face off with any strong citrus or smoke or whatever. The coffee community calls this being “approachable” – I call it no-nonsense and pleasantly straightforward.
There was a great balance between tartness and nuttiness, that was tied together with something like a dark caramel as I got to the bottom of the cup.
On the espresso side of things, Intelligentsia’s Sugar Glider blend crafts a lovely sweetness that hangs on the tongue sip after sip. Much like the the Oaxaca single origin stuff – and, from what I understand, much of Central American coffees – there was a great balance between tartness and nuttiness, that was tied together with something like a dark caramel as I got to the bottom of the cup and flavors started hanging out a little bit longer. Also definitely worth taking a shot (both literally and figuratively) if it’s around.
With all the interesting stuff going on in this place, I’d definitely recommend coming by this place over the summer if you’re taking a walk by the High Line and need a place to sit down and unwind. And even if you’re familiar with Intelligentsia’s products through other bars, it’ll still be nice to see their stuff in action as close to the original roasters’ intent as possible.
So, here or there – or anywhere, really – enjoy.