Culture Espresso Bar

72 W 38th St(nr 6th Ave)New York, NY 10018
BDFM at 42nd St-Bryant Park
Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat-Sun 8am-7pm
Coffee Roaster

Culture Espresso is a busy spot. They pull in fashion industry and publishing people, in addition to some bankers and lawyers. At the bottom of Midtown, it’s a real oasis, playing vinyl on the turntable and serving Intelligentsia coffee as well as PT Roasters, Stumptown and others.

A La Marzocco Strada turns out great espresso from a changing cast of sources, seasonal blends, and single origin roasts, while two large Japanese siphons drip cold brew behind the bar. Culture also has a pour-over bar made out of thin copper pipes where they offer two choices daily. They clearly love coffee and want their patrons to as well, having offered Panama Esmerelda Geisha coffee two seasons in a row at cost ($7 or so a cup), just to encourage people to try it.

Chandeliers hang from the ceiling and a communal wooden work table sits in the middle of the room across from a few tables along one wall – a good lot of seating considering the small space. There are a few stools along the front window facing 38th street for prime viewing of delivery trucks and passing fashion models.

In addition to making their own stellar chocolate chip cookies, Culture serves biscuits and shortbread from Scratch Bread and doughnuts from Donut Place, as well as their own sandwiches (truffled egg salad being our favorite).

There are a couple of odd aspects to Culture Espresso Bar. The Australian owner insists on keeping a Flat White listed on the menu in addition to a Cappuccino, despite the fact that they make them exactly the same. He also has an unusually stingy policy about paper napkins which no one has explained clearly. Things like this are part of Culture’s charm and individuality, both of which are in short supply in midtown. When you are there, the Ramones crackle on the stereo, New York Times editors can’t decide what to order, and design meetings spill into your conversation, but the coffee is paramount.