It may have its defenders, but for the most part, DUMBO gets a lot of deserved flack as an office-heavy neighborhood with deeply unsatisfying lunch options. It's not the worst problem anyone's ever had, but it's just one more part of the day that's a little bit sad, and generally expensive. But one notable bright spot all this? The coffee.
The selection is actually kind of staggering. And not just with fancy kinds that'll set you back as much as an actual lunch! There's normal iced coffee, multiple varieties of fancy iced coffee, candy-flavored deli coffee, french-y coffee, legitimate espresso, an entire roasting company, and the only Starbucks I ever regularly see in Brooklyn. It's a lot. So much so that the decision process here is almost as difficult as choosing between the disappointing food options, albeit in a better, tyranny-of-choice kind of way. Meaning, then, that this is best handled with an arbitrary ranking based entirely on one person's opinion? Good.
Ehhhh. I'm sure the coffee is fine and sourced from a good company (and I'm sure I've had it and just forgotten), but I really don't like spending money here unless I have to, and with coffee, I don't.
- Photo via DUMBO Books of Brooklyn
I know, I know. We should all be supporting smaller, local roasters all the time, and their actual coffee isn't even that good. Fine. But there's a lot to be said for reliability, they're right across the street from our offices, and that "Frappuccino Happy Hour" thing they did for a while this summer was pretty great. It is what it is. Still on the fence about whether the suspiciously upbeat staff is a plus or a minus, though.
#5: Peas & Pickles
Probably the place I go the most often, and really, for a deli, the set-up here is fairly exceptional (and much, much better than it probably needs to be). The coffee is all self-serve (meaning you can and should fill your cup most of the way up with coffee, then add some french vanilla foam from the "cappuccino" machine in the top inch), there are always sleeves available, they've got every kind of milk anyone could want, and a giant iced coffee—the making of which involves the vaguely cathartic process of scooping ice with a trowel—will only set you back $2. It puts 7 Stars—and just about every other deli I can think of—to shame.
- Photo via Paris Breakfasts
Notable in particular for the perfectly executed café au lait, and the immediate availability of quality things to dunk in it (macarons, croissants, etc.). Plus, they've staged an admirable comeback from the significant damage incurred during Sandy (it took them until March to re-open), so spending money here just feels
#3: One Girl Cookies
Worth noting that you could also just get beer and cookies here, but still, credit should be given where it's due, and One Girl really does everything right. They get their beans from Stumptown, legitimately know how to make quality espresso drinks, put coffee ice cubes in their iced coffee, have simple syrup readily available, and have that credit card machine with the incredibly pleasant interface (especially important in a sea of cash-only or $10 credit card minimum options). Very, very solid.
#2: La Bagel Delight
Maybe not as upscale as a few other places on this list (I mean, I have no idea what kind of beans they use or whatever), but something about the composition of the iced coffee here is always exactly right (the hot coffee's a little less exciting). Granted, it doesn't hurt that if you're in the market for a massive bagel you're generally also
very much in the market for some kind of coffee, but this is good even on its own merits. Additionally, they've been in a weird phase recently where all the coffee sleeves have had pastoral-looking images of baby farm animals on them. Doesn't hurt.
#1: La Colombe in West Elm
Far and away the winner, and for the iced coffee alone. The fact that this stand is sort of hidden in the back of West Elm on Washington St. can be a little bit of a deterrent, but $2.50 will get you a superlative iced coffee with an espresso shot automatically added in
. No beverage to date has left me this pleasantly jittery. The pastries are also good, and they get a few extra points for simple syrup availability. As perfect as it could possibly be.
Honorable Mention: Brooklyn Roasting Company
We've made this stuff in the office a few times, and I remember it being good, but their actual brick and mortar location is just a few blocks further than I wanna go on an errand that should takes 5-10 minutes at the most, so after more than a year working in this neighborhood I still have yet to go. This will change, eventually, at which point, there'll be an entirely new, slightly re-shuffled version of this ranking. Forager's will still be last.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.