We’re still nuts for New York. Our NYC coverage continues today with Sprudge.com Lead Writer Jordan Michelman’s personal take on Everyman Espresso (136 East 13th Street, between 3rd and 4th Ave in the East Village, Manhattan)

If you were ever certain of your own status as a weirdo, a freak, a geek, an outsider, a queer, or any combination thereof, then you know how certain spaces have the ability to transcend these labels and feel like a second home. Everyman Espresso, in New York’s East Village, is exactly that sort of place, the kind of cafe your Sprudge editors would have ran away to from the ‘burbs as awkward teenagers, but in an infinitely cooler setting and with much, much better coffee.

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The Classic Stage Company has shared its lobby space at 136 East 13th since the mid-2000s, when East Village stalwarts Ninth Street Espresso first opened a tiny kiosk in a cramped corner of the spacious lobby. The theater’s original intent was to provide coffee service for theatergoers during intermission, but the lobby’s identity as a home to specialty coffee has grown by leaps and bounds in the years since. In 2007, a Ninth Street barista named Edmond Hallas acquired the space, changed the name to Everyman Espresso, and around a year later former Gorilla Coffee barista and current Everyman co-owner Sam Penix began there as a barista.

As is often  the case with transfers of ownership and responsibility, Sam’s path to co-ownership is a little byzantine. “If the cards hadn’t fallen exactly like they did, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now“, Sam told Sprudge,  “and I don’t think Everyman would be what it is today.”  After a series of management changes, Sam became co-owner and manager of Everyman Espresso in 2009.  “I accepted both the position of co-owner and manager, though my equity in Everyman was initially tied to monthly goals”. Focusing on top-notch quality coffee, choice pastries and chocolates, and a welcoming, awesome staff helped Sam improve reach these goals, improve his bottom line, and eventually make renovations to improve the Everyman space. “Renovation turned things around for me and helped me feel like I owned a real coffee shop, and I’ll be renovating and changing the bar again soon.”

Ohh… the coffee….I had such excellent coffee at Everyman. The subtext to our earlier rhapsodizing on Counter Culture’s Atu Lintang was the Aeropress service provided by Eric at Everyman. Shots and macchiatos of Counter Culture Apollo were similarly clean and distinctive. You settle in to the white brick, working concrete vibe of the place with a cup and a shot, jostle for coat space with an octogenarian reading “The Village Voice”, and set yourself up for some top notch East Village people watching. It’s a gloriously mixed-use cafe, a hub of activity and special because of it. Throughout multiple visits I saw documentary filmmakers, fashion bloggers, food writers, old guys from the neighborhood sipping lattes, college kids, awkward teenagers, and everyone else in-between. The shared space model never felt forced or uncomfortable…this is New York, after all, and of course a fringe art theater should share lobby space with a top-notch specialty cafe. Where else, and why not?

The coffee and the space are spot-on, but beyond that, Everyman has a certain sort of X factor appeal. It’s a place that feels special, safe, strange, unique to New York and yet utterly universal. “Basically I’m just a really lucky kid”, Sam told us, but Everyman’s regulars and devotees doubtlessly feel the same way. Of the more than a dozen or so places I visited, Everyman Espresso stands out as my favorite cafe in New York – Sprudge.com can’t recommend it highly enough. Visit Everyman while you’re in NYC, have something delicious from Counter Culture on the Aeropress, and feel the love.

[photographs by Hannah Rosenblum and ManSeekingCoffee]

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