L at First Ave.
The focus is squarely on the beans at Ninth Street Espresso, where framed burlap coffee sacks once hung on the walls. Clearly, coffee is considered an art form here. Created by and for those with a passion for all things caffeinated, this independent shop takes its guiding premise—offering top-notch artisanal roasts to purist coffee drinkers—seriously. Grab a seat at one of the wooden tables under the tin ceiling or with the smokers on a bench outside and sample the Espresso Toscano, the only recurring brew in the ever-changing lineup. In an age where coffeehouses often multitask as bakeries, sandwich shops, T-shirt purveyors, and even music-sellers, the clarity of purpose at Ninth Street Espresso is a respite for the senses.