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7 Bushwick Coffees in 7 Days

By Chris Heuberger

By Chris Heuberger

How many coffee shops are there in Bushwick? Many! Just look at the Coffee section of our Guide. But which place is the best? What makes for the perfect caffein experience? Does atmosphere matter more than the coffee?

I chose seven popular cafes around Bushwick at random and visited each establishment— a different one every day—over the course of a single week. I would order a single espresso (no milk, no sugar—just the way I like it) and whatever else I wanted. And then I would record my experience. I rated each cafe in five categories (espresso taste, price, atmosphere, staff, and overall experience) on 1 to 5; 5 being amazing and 1 being Lana Del Rey terrible.

Keep in mind that these reviews are meant only as an introduction to the various cafes you may not be acquainted with. You are encouraged to try out each one for yourself to see which one is the right fit. Because any one of these cafes is so much better than a life without coffee...

And now chicks and dudes, I give you my reviews, in no particular order:

1. Little Skips: Cheerful and Charming (941 Willoughby Ave between Myrtle Ave & Charles Pl)

Rating

espresso ★★★★

price ★★★★★

atmosphere ★★★★

staff ★★★★★

overall ★★★★★

Review

This place is everything you'd want in a neighborhood cafe. It keeps a revolving collection of art on the walls, has a laid back but lively feel, and has enough room to even hold a few music shows here and there. It's an eclectic, colorful  space that usually has a good crowd. There's a big window in the front, letting in a lot of sunlight and speakers near the back (playing The Knife when I was there). So you kind of have to choose between quiet and dark. This is not a loungy cave like some cafes but a place to bring your laptop and get work done or meet for a brainstorming session over lunch. I also love that they have self serve water, an under-appreciated luxury if you ask me. And I do enjoy their menu. It includes a variety of coffee and non-coffee drinks—Bushwick Egg Creams, Bomb Lattes (you'll have to find out for yourself)—and a wonderful assortment of sammies. I got the Aladdin (tomato, spinach, and avocado with hummus on whole wheat), served up by a remarkably nice staff. And oh yeah, the espresso is excellent; simple with just the right amount of bite.

2. Anthom Cafe: A French Cafe on Bushwick's Broadway (1096 Broadway between Dodworth St & Dekalb Ave)

Rating

espresso ★★

price ★★★★

atmosphere ★

staff ★★

overall ★★

Review

When I walked into this place, it was completely empty. So needless to say the atmosphere was a bit dull. I wouldn't expect any half decent cafe to be on this stretch of Broadway anyway (right across from Lone Wolf) so at least it's trying. But boy does this one need some sprucing up. Tacky scenes of Paris on the walls, a book shelf filled with dull art books from the 90s, and a kitchen in the back room sectioned off by yellow caution tape? On the bright side, It's definitely unpretentious and there's no fear of being distracted here. As for the espresso, I may just be projecting here but I found it to be equally uninspired; a little gritty and a little too sharp. But I guess Anthom Cafe would be fine to grab a coffee and a respectable $3 egg and cheese on good bread in your rush to catch the J train. I'm just saying it doesn't make me want to go to Paris.

3. Central Cafe: Your Cute, Quick Coffee Shop (108 Central Ave between Jefferson St & Troutman St)

Rating

espresso ★★★★

price ★★★

atmosphere ★★★

staff ★★★★★

overall ★★★ and 1/2★

Review

If you can get a speat near the window, Central Cafe is a nice little spot. It has 3 big lounge chairs and 3 small tables so don't expect too much space or any out-of-the-way seating. But the staff was on their game and the menu was small but solid, featuring pumpkin and nutella lattes and some tempting sandwiches. The espresso was decent; tangy with just a little aftertaste. It's cash only and a bit dusty but all in all, a delightful little cafe.

4. Cafe Ghia: Where to Impress Your Date (24 Irving Ave between Jefferson St & Melrose St)

Rating

espresso ★★★★★

price ★★★

atmosphere ★★★★

staff ★★★★★

overall ★★★★ and 1/2★

Review

I'd say Cafe Ghia is the most grown up and sophisticated place on the list. It's a great spot to come for brunch on a weekend or sit at the bar and have a glass of wine in the evening. I came in for an espresso, sat at the bar where the New York Times was waiting for me, and was waited on like I was important or something. The staff here is ridiculously nice and accommodating and the espresso is stellar; bright, airy, and smooth. The Chalkboards on the wall inform you of the continually changing but always enticing menu. It's quite refined (especially for Bushwick) and a little more expensive but not outlandishly so. Go to this place.

5. Kavé: Another Reason to Hang Out In The Loom (1087 Flushing Ave between Knickerbocker Ave & Porter Ave)

Rating

espresso ★★★★

price ★★★★

atmosphere ★★★★

staff ★★★★

overall ★★★★

Review

When I first walked into Kavé, I was a bit confused by the decor. The palm plants and large wicker chairs covered in leather make me think of a tropical island. But the color scheme is decidedly brown and the cast iron gate that serves as the front door sheds no light on the situation. Those chairs though are surprisingly comfortable and the vibe here is relaxed and welcoming. It's probably the largest cafe on the list, especially counting the courtyard I look forward to enjoying when the weather warms up. There's an abundance of small tables to sit at with your laptop or a book. I also noticed they have a piano, a chess board, and Scrabble on hand. The espresso was fierce and delicious. The rest of the menu includes pumpkin lattes, Italian sodas, a variety of nutmilks, and a good selection of sandwiches and pastries. They also have a fairly awesome antique cash register. A great place to spend the day undisturbed.

6. Cafe Orwell: Dark, Brooding, and Delightful (247 Varet St between White St & Bogart St)

Rating

espresso ★★★★

price ★★★★

atmosphere ★★★★

staff ★★★

overall ★★★★

Review

I want to like Cafe Orwell because everything is black. It is dark which is awesome but it is loud sometimes which is not necessarily awesome but it has Sessions Lager which is awesome. Being near Bogart and right next door to the Loft Hostel though, it can be tough to get a table to yourself. Too many large, communal tables if you ask me. But the espresso here is robust and flavorful. They have a good variety of sandwiches, salads, bagels, and biscotti. And even bike parking out front. It has some great old chandeliers too, a half piano, and usually a good, eccentric crowd.

7. Wyckoff Starr: Tiny and Tasty (30 Wyckoff Ave @ wait for it… Starr!)

Rating

espresso ★★★★★

price ★★★★

atmosphere ★★★

staff ★★★★

overall ★★★★ and 1/2★

Review

Located directly beside the beloved Hana Foods, Wyckoff Starr is probably the smallest cafe on the list. But also probably the best place to people-watch. The menu features sandwiches from Cafe Ghia (the owners of both places overlap) and drinks like The Grasshopper (iced mint mocha) and the Bees Knees (honey latte). The espresso really hits the spot though with a roasty flavor and a perky finish. To get a seat at one of the tables here is a miracle but I usually take my coffee to go and sit on one of the benches outside or hop right onto the L train. This is a busy cafe but the staff is quick, kind, and on the ball. And if you're from out of town, be sure to mark your spot on their impressive "Where In The World Are You From?" map.

Admittedly, there are many more cafes in Bushwick and "East Williamsburg" that I didn't get to. I'm sorry if your neighborhood caffeine provider didn't make the list. If you'd like me to keep going (or cease and desist at once), just leave a comment.

Happy sipping!

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