Espresso Train : Everyman Espresso

Location: 301 West Broadway (between Canal and Grand), 136 E 13th Street (between 3rd and 4th Ave.)

While it’s a lot of fun to go to different cafés all the time, I feel like a major component of a place’s long-term success has to do with their ability to connect with their customers. I touched on this a bit when I gushed about the robust community outreach that Coffeed‘s branches – having a specific place that you can call “your” café adds to that personal connection that can  form and enhance your whole experience in amazing ways. Sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.

For me, that location is Everyman Espresso, a place that I’ve made a point to visit at least once a week since I found it nearly two years ago. It was there where I had the drink that would cement my desire to think about coffee as something that was not just a medium for delivering caffeine, but a whole suite of flavor nuances and thoughtful extraction techniques (that also happens to be very effective at delivering caffeine.)

The Epiphany, an espresso experience that absolutely lives up to its name in every sense of the word.

I actually found Everyman entirely by accident, after attending an interview in the area – its Soho location, just by the mouth of the Holland Tunnel in downtown Manhattan, isn’t the most conducive to foot traffic. However, the place was packed some of the friendliest, knowledgable, and passionate baristas I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. The menu was fairly minimalist, save for one line that jumped out at me: “The Epiphany.” When I asked what it was, the barista, Sam Lewontin, simply smiled and said, “Want to see it?”

“I want you to think about what you think coffee will taste like,” he requested. “Once you’ve done that, give it a try.”

The resulting ten minutes was an absolutely mesmerizing experience – Sam whirled around the bar with a deftness and energy that I had associated with flair bartending rather than the creation of a coffee drink. A dash of this, a mist of that, a rub of something else – all came together into two tiny shot glasses that he laid in front of me on a small plate. “I want you to think about what you think coffee will taste like,” he requested, excitement just barely contained. “Once you’ve done that, give it a try. Hopefully you’ll see why it’s called the Epiphany.

I was absolutely floored. There was a lot of stuff going on in these drinks, but it was all absolutely controlled – sweetness that jumped between citrus and caramel, a subtle ginger-like acidity that didn’t veer into overbearing, and  most strikingly of all, absolutely no bitter aftertastes whatsoever. Absolutely nothing like the smoke-like wrecking ball of bitterness that usually springs to mind. Like the name implies, my mind was blown. There was so much creativity taking place in four ounces of liquid. What else was out there?

I was pretty much a total convert after that.

The Epiphany was the brainchild of barista Sam Lewontin for the United States Barista Competition in 2013. (Photo credit: Everyman Espresso.)
The Epiphany was the brainchild of barista Sam Lewontin, originally crafted for the 2013 United States Barista Competition. (Photo credit: Everyman Espresso.)

A lot of great talent, pouring everything that they have into other things that are also then poured into cups.

Dedicated to providing a consistently good and high-quality product, Everyman Espresso equips themselves with Counter Culture beans and Battenkill Creamery milk. Queenie Fok, another one of the baristas, also supplies Almond Made Milk, an absolutely amazing almond milk of her own creation made close-by at Arcade Bakery. Specialty drinks (developed by Sam or other baristas on staff) are developed both in-house and refined at the Counter Culture Training Center, also located in downtown Manhattan. A lot of great talent, pouring everything that they have into other things that are also then poured into cups. I cannot express my respect, gratitude, and admiration to these people enough.

Everyman's East Village location shares its space with a local theater but retains an energetic identity of its own.
Everyman’s East Village location shares its space with a local theater but retains an energetic identity of its own.

While I definitely appreciate the talent and innovation that occurs in cafés throughout the city (and the world), Everyman will always have a special place for me as the place I consider “my” espresso place. Every week it’s nice to catch up with the baristas of the day to catch up on their lives, the recent local events, and their thoughts on whatever happens to be on anyone’s mind that day. Good times.

So take a visit by either location, if you’re around. And if you’re not, then pay your regular place another visit – anywhere where you can feel like you can really unload and really appreciate your coffee experience for what it is. And enjoy.