Five Must Have NYC Cold Brews! Coffee Spot #3: Porto Rico Importing Company

My interest in coffee began when I moved to New York 4 years ago.  I began trying any coffee shop I came upon (because they are everywhere!) and began to form opinions and thoughts on each cup.  After 4 years in this city, I definitely have some favorites and would love to share them with you over the next month.  I will be visiting 5 Coffee shops that I (and the Foods of NY staff) enjoy.  These shops are in the areas we tour so you will know just where to go and what to order when you visit!  I will be focusing on the #1 seller for summer (Cold Brew) along with some other brew methods for the next few weeks and will be sending out some great information on each shops brew. 

A little bit about me and my passion for Coffee: So, after I figured out all of my favorite places to drink coffee, my interest continued to grow.  This is when I decided to become a Barista at Toby’s Estate in Brooklyn, NY.  I first found Toby’s when I moved to Brooklyn and realized that they offer a $10 Cupping class to learn about coffee.  A Cupping is where you will experience just what kind of complexity goes into a great cup of coffee.  While tasting the coffee, you will learn that there are many different aspects that make up a good cup of coffee such as fragrance, aroma, break, brightness and flavor. 

After taking this class, I was hooked.  I had to continue my coffee education.   And so the learning began.  I began working at Toby’s with weekly classes teaching me how to create the perfect grind, the perfect pour and the perfect weight depending on what sort of machine you were using to brew coffee.  I was learning about each single origin blend we sold and roasted (in house) including how to pour a V60 – Pour over which was used with all single origin beans. ** “Single Origin” is a single blend of beans from a specific country. (Examples – Ethiopian, Guatemalan, Columbian and Rwandan).  I enjoyed tasting each Country’s cup of coffee and discovering what I liked about each.  From the tasting notes, which brings flavor, to the fragrance, each coffee portrayed a certain something special.  From this I grew to understand and differentiate what I liked and wanted in my own cup of coffee. 

After working on the pour of a V60 pour over for some time, I began to study the art of Latte art and was instantly intrigued.  Soon enough, I was in training to learn how to steam and pour a beautiful cup of coffee.  There are many beautiful combinations you can create in latte art such as a heart, rosetta, swan and wave tulip.  Appreciating latte-art is one thing, but actually pouring the beautifully steamed milk into a fancy creation is beyond exciting.  I also had training in Espresso brewing and learned the complexity that goes into creating a perfect espresso shot.  Espresso drinks include – an espresso shot, machiatto, cortado, flat white, cappuccino, mocha, Café au lait and latte to just name a few.   All of which can include single or double shots, iced or hot and of course the milk of your choice.  Just remember when it comes down to it, creating the perfect cup of coffee with whatever machine you use, timing, weight and grind are the most important aspects to focus on.  

Cold Brew explained! It’s NOT just pouring hot coffee over ice (that will result in watery coffee – we do not recommend!)

Cold brew refers to the process of steeping coffee grounds in room temperature or cold water for an extended period. Cold brew coffee is not to be confused with iced coffee, which generally refers to coffee that is brewed hot and then chilled by pouring over or adding ice, though iced coffee can refer to cold brew coffee served on ice. The cold water extract process requires grinding: coarse-ground beans are soaked in water for a prolonged period of time, usually 12 hours or more. The water is normally kept at room temperature, but chilled water can also be used. The grounds must be filtered out of the water after they have been steeped using a paper coffee filter, a fine metal sieve, a French press or felt. The result is a coffee concentrate that is often diluted with water or milk, and can be served hot, over ice, or blended with ice and other ingredients such as chocolate.  Cold brew is well-loved because of its lower acidity level, its sweetness, and its higher caffeination level – more buzz for your buck!

Here’s some other interesting information and a lesson on how to make it at home (but since EVERYWHERE has it these days, we recommend just buying it). 

Now let’s taste some delicious coffee!
Porto Rico Importing Company has been in the West Village for over 100 years.  Family owned, Patsy Albanese founded Porto Rico in 1907.  He ran the business until turning it over to the Longo’s family where it was a father and son operation for many years. They sell 130 varieties of coffee from 28 countries, retail, online and wholesale to 350 restaurants.  Porto Rico’s warehouse and roasting plant is based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  The coffee beans sold in-house vary from flavor-roasted beans, decaf (which has gone through a Swiss water process in order to draw out the caffeine), Asian and African beans and Southern and Central American imported beans.

Throughout Porto Rico’s history, they have established a strong link with café culture in the Village. They supply freshly roasted beans to many Italian cafes in the neighborhood.  Generations of residents and families living in the Village have visited Porto Rico for their Coffee beans– to make it at home or at their restaurant.  From generation to generation and from one year to the next, the Village’s residents have helped to develop the selection of coffees carried by Porto Rico whether though a customers travel knowledge or word of mouth.  Porto Rico’s interest and passion in coffee and its customer’s curiosity and requests for diverse beans have helped to continue to expand the company to this day.

Porto Rico Importing Company’s cold brew is the top pick and best selling for the summertime in their shop on Bleecker St. located in the Heart of the Village.  Although Porto Rico Importing Company has a coffee bar in its shop, owner Peter Longo emphasizes that the shops specialty has always been coffee beans and tea leaves, not their ‘café’.

Porto Rico Importing Company makes their Cold Brew with a French roast bean and an Espresso bean.  When I tried their Cold Brew the French Roast was a Costa Rican Bean with a Brazilian Espresso.  They change the recipe every so often to keep it fresh and fun. They brew their Cold Brew for a full 24 hours in house and also roast some of their beans in house at their West Village location.  However, the majority of the roasting is done at their Williamsburg, Brooklyn location.

The brew I tried was very much on the dark side with a rich, earthy, concentrated taste.  The cup was a little heavy/full tasting for my preference but was still very much enjoyable.   Without milk the coffee is quite strong, so is definitely a first thing in the morning sort of cup for me.  The Company uses a Hudson Valley whole milk if you prefer milk in your coffee.  They also offer soy and almond milk if preferred.  I prefer milk in their cold brew, because it lightens up the flavor and consistency of the coffee, but also brings out a sweeter/chocolaty flavor note to the brew.

Check out Porto Rico Importing Companies shops for a little piece of coffee heaven.  The aroma of the variety of beans in the shop is one of the best smells around.  The shop is a one of the most unique and authentic coffee store’s in NYC as well.  It is an amazing shop to visit if you’re a coffee lover, that’s for sure!  When you walk in you will find burlap sacks stacked to the top with freshly brewed beans.  On our Heart of the Village tour, we make a quick stop into the store to review a bit of history, take in the aromas and educate our customers about the beans they have for sale.

Porto Rico Importing Company accepts Credit and Debit Cards and their cold brew is $2.25 for a 16oz cup.  You can buy as much or as little coffee beans and an assortment if you please from Porto Rico Importing Company.  Also, the prices for their coffee beans are such a bargain; it will leave you coming back for more.

*Fun fact and something to remember if you really prefer a lot of caffeine in your coffee, whether buying beans or stopping off for a cup of coffee.  THE LIGHTER THE BEAN THE MORE CAFFEINE.  The longer you roast a bean (a dark colored bean) the more caffeine evaporates.  The shorter amount of time you spend roasting a bean, the more caffeine you get and to me, a better flavor!  If you are like me, you will go for the lighter roasted beans.

P.S. The Iced Americano is another fantastic option! – A mixture of African beans.  Great with or without milk!

**MORE interesting reads about Coffee –
The history behind Porto Rico Importing Company
More about French Roast Coffee
Four Ways to Decaffeinate Coffee

Check out the rest of our “FIVE MUST HAVE NYC COLD BREWS” Blogs:

#1 Champion Coffee

#2 Bubby’s Highline – Meatpacking District

#4 Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee

#5 Prodigy Coffee

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