01/28/15 10:06am

Sweetleaf’s breakfast sandwich.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, brunch not so much, unless you count M. Wells Dinette or dim sum. Long before I read Anthony Bourdain’s takedown of the portmanteau meal in Kitchen Confidential, I was a brunch hater. A good breakfast sandwich—the classic New York City coffee cart bacon, egg, and cheese—however, is something I get can get behind. Heck I’ve even been known to enjoy a McGriddle. Which is why, despite my aversion to the meal, I’m glad Sweetleaf launched brunch this past weekend at its Long Island City waterfront location. The coffee and cocktail bar’s short menu features one of the best egg sandwiches I’ve had in a long time. (more…)

04/01/13 9:55am
Coffee and cocktails combine thanks to a partnership between Dutch Kills and Sweetleaf.

Coffee and cocktails combine at the new Sweetleaf.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the opening of the third location of third wave coffee bar Sweetleaf for months. When I heard that it would be serving cocktails from Richie Boccatto of nearby Dutch Kills I became even more intrigued. So the other day I stopped by, partly to get a jolt to ward off an M.Wells-induced food coma and partly to check out the joint. Coffee maven and Sweetleaf co-owner Rich Nieto fixed me a macchiato while I soaked up the atmosphere. The wooden bar is equally suited to downing an espresso or sipping a fine libation. Ditto the comfy chairs in the front. There’s even a design element that pays homage to the gantries which are just down the road. (more…)

01/16/13 4:09pm
Espresso is best taken neat.

Espresso is best taken neat.

Coffee is often more of a necessity for many rather than a gustatory pursuit. And so it was and continues to be for me. Lately though I have begun to notice flavor nuances in the bean, mostly in espresso, perhaps because it is more extracted than other forms of coffee. Apple Jolly Rancher, stone fruit, and toasted coconut are some of the flavors that baristas at places like Sweetleaf like to discuss. Every time I detect one of these flavors in a shot of espresso is an aha moment for me.

Such flavor epiphanies are rare though. I have always liked my coffee strong, perhaps overly so. For years my morning coffee was prepared with a French press and taken with milk and sugar. Lately I have been grinding my own beans, and using a plastic pourover. To the resulting brew I add vigorously shaken half and half, a goodly amount of sugar, and a dash of sea salt. Unconventional, but to me delicious.

So here’s what I’m curious to know. How do you take/make your coffee. Tell me in the comments or hit me on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.