"I shop everywhere, but I buy on 14th Street."
This was the tag line used in advertisements to promote the merchants on 14th Street as Union Square and the area around it was being redeveloped and brought back to life. It always seemed a bit sad and desperate, especially considering the fact that the areas north and south of 14th Street were coming back to life but 14th Street still seemed seedy and low rent. A lot of that has changed, but 14th street is still an interesting mix of the high and low. Lush Soaps and Diesel mixed with dollar stores and Taco Bell.
The stretch between 1st and 2nd Avenue has improved thanks predominantly to a few small restaurants. Places like Curly's (now gone), Artichoke and Kambi Ramen have brought life and destination food to the block. But these are huddled on the Eastern stretch, closer to 1st Avenue. There is, however, a new beacon of hope and caffeine. In one of the small, step down storefronts on the north side of 14th Street, closer to 2nd Avenue, Madman Espresso has popped up.
Madman is the passion project of Meyer, a local resident who's business is real estate but true love is coffee. Madman is small, handsome and welcome new coffee spot. Madman brews beans from Doma Coffee Roasting, a great roaster out of Idaho who uses organic, fair trade beans. The set up is like a traditional, small Italian espresso bar, but they offer pour over and other options as well.
|La Marzocco espresso machine, naturally.|
|The pour over set up.|
The coffee is great. My cappuccino was served, classic Little Italy style, in a glass mug. Sugar cubes invite you to sit and stir. A little biscotti is offered, compliments of the house. A few pastries and croissants are offered but tend to go quickly. Hopefully a sign that Madman is here to stay.
Madman is the perfect spot for a quick hello and a quick pick me up. The name "Madman" may refer to the owner's passion for coffee rather than his decision to try it on 14th Street. Either way, I am happy he was crazy enough to give it a go. I hope more people follow his lead. Welcome to the neighborhood.
Madman Espresso - 319 East 14th Street, between 1st & 2nd Avenue.