01 of 08
Something's Brewing in Ridgewood
This is the second in a series of articles about Queens coffee shops, the first of which covers Astoria. For an inner Queens neighborhood, Ridgewood has a lot of cafes, benefiting from its adjacency to Bushwick and East Williamsburg and the continuing flood of artists and other people seeking cheaper housing. Most of the newer shops run along the gentri-frontier border with Bushwick near Cypress Avenue, while a couple of older style cafes can be found around Fresh Pond Road. The overall quality level is not currently very high, but a couple of the newest shops have brought specialty coffee to Ridgewood.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
02 of 08
Good Things Come in Small Packages at 1080 Brew
1080 Brew makes cunning use of its vest pocket-sized, two-story corner space, a sort of vestibule area for a black-painted, mural-adorned, cement block warehouse building that houses a climbing wall and other businesses. The angled counter is arrayed with a few plates and canisters of Balthazar baked goods along with a workhorse La Marzocco espresso machine that they use to produce decent Toby’s Estate coffee. There are no seats downstairs save a tiny bench, but a staircase leads up to a small balcony area where you can gaze through murky, wire-embedded windows or survey the goings on below from a handful of stools.
1080 Brew, 1080 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood, Queens, 11358Continue to 3 of 8 below.
03 of 08
Bushwick Coffee House & Juice Bar
Bushwick Coffee House has a makeshift feeling, from the strangely high front door knob to the mishmash of treats in their pastry case, but it’s balanced out by friendly service and some interesting art including a backyard mural and graffiti-style wall paintings. The coffee is of the stale, dark roasted Italian sort, Miscela D’Oro, used a lot in restaurants and undiscerning coffee shops. The long narrow room is on the gloomy side but there are enough seats where you can use their free wifi without guilt.
Bushwick Coffee House & Juice Bar, 1050 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood, Queens, 11358Continue to 4 of 8 below.
04 of 08
Counter Culture and Cozyness at Cypress Inn
Open almost three years, Cypress Inn Cafe has developed into a cozy local hang cluttered with art and ephemera, including a tiny cash register complete with wooden cash box that they use for business. More of a luncheonette than a coffee shop, they do offer passable Counter Culture coffee, along with soups, sandwiches, salads, wraps and their tasty homemade breakfast empanadas. A counter with stool-height chairs runs down the lefthand side and is faced by tables along the Cypress Avenue wall, with a narrow aisle between, and punctuated by a half-circle couch and associated coffee table at the rear of the shop. Both table and counter seats are usually crammed with eaters, friends chatting over drinks, and the requisite laptop campers making use of the free wifi.
Cypress Inn Cafe, 1702 Stanhope St (at Cypress Ave), Ridgewood, Queens, 11358Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Cresting the Third Wave at Milk & Pull
About as different from their original Bushwick shop layout-wise as is possible, of all the cafes in this roundup, the cleverly-named Milk & Pull seemingly has the most potential to be a good Third Wave shop. Serving Stumptown, sandwiches, and a standard array of baked goods in a large, plain corner space with lots of natural light, blond wood, exposed brick, and a somewhat minimal amount of furniture, Milk & Pull is inconsistent both in drink preparation and customer service, despite having all of the right equipment and ingredients at hand. On occasion you can score a well-pulled, balanced espresso and a smile, but more often all the staff are looking at their iDevices. Wifi is on the intermittent side.
Milk & Pull, 778 Seneca Ave (at Madison St), Ridgewood, Queens, 11358Continue to 6 of 8 below.
06 of 08
Despite proclaiming in oddly capitalized fashion on their front window, “We Create Coffee, Others just Sell it,”[sic] there’s nothing special about The Spot’s coffee - their apparently house-roasted coffee is difficult to choke down. Generic cakes fill their pastry case - the baclava I tried was overly sweet and lacking the flavor to pull this off. A large, square space populated with worn wooden two and four-tops located near the Fresh Pond Rd commercial strip, The Spot has a loyal following of locals and students, many making use of the free wifi to work on their laptops. There’s a separate entrance for takeout.
The Spot, 6105 Madison St (near Fresh Pond Rd), Ridgewood, Queens, 11358Continue to 7 of 8 below.
07 of 08
Trans Am Cafe: Handbuilt and Quirky
Trans Am is a quirky, homegrown cafe connected by hallway to Trans-Pecos, a related performance space and music venue. A handbuilt wooden counter and kitchen area runs along the righthand wall while the remaining walls are painted black and partially overlaid with white stenciled designs. A handful of small tables with chairs are randomly strewn about the fairly small room, which is dotted with plants and a few strange objects and is graced with a skylight. The friendly, attentive staff are ready to serve you vegan / vegetarian sandwiches and baked goods and barely tolerable coffee roasted by Park Slope’s Kos Koffee - the first time I’ve seen it in the wild.
Trans Am Cafe, 915 Wyckoff Ave, New York, NY, 11385Continue to 8 of 8 below.
08 of 08
Topos for Book and Coffee Lovers
Of all the cafes in Ridgewood, this corner bookstore coffee shop ranks highest for personality and coziness. Topos has made space for half a dozen tables and a small counter among the homemade wooden shelves, filled with used books curated by the owners, one of whom managed St. Marks Books for 10 years. While you do see laptops here, many tables are appealingly occupied by groups engaged in passionate conversation, or solitary folk writing in journals and reading. Unfortunately, despite using Ithaca-roasted Gimme! Coffee, the espresso is thin and astringent, but hopefully they can work on that. I’d still come here any time to hang out or attend one of their many readings or performances.
Topos Bookstore Cafe, 788 Woodward Ave (at Putnam Ave), Ridgewood, NY, 11358
Two shops that didn’t make it into my roundup are Little Coffee Shop, serving Second Wave Porto Rico coffee, and Spolem, a cavernous spot with a large liquor menu that serves Lavazza coffee and presents more like a nightclub... than a cafe.
Peter Cucè is a food-obsessed coffee lover who intermittently chronicles New York City cafe culture via a variety of internet outlets. He has eaten his way through nearly every cuisine available locally and beyond and is now systematically working his way through regional Chinese and Korean food in Flushing and environs. You can also catch Peter on Twitter @petekachu and Instagram.