I love coffee, and when the weather gets particularly warm I make the switch over to iced coffee — never mind the fact that I have been told for years that you should drink hot drinks when it is hot outside and cool drinks when it is cool. I prefer a cold drink. For the most part I have almost always gotten both kinds of coffee from Starbucks, which is quite easy when you’re in Manhattan — there is almost always one or five within a few blocks of your location.
Not long after I started working at my current job, I noticed that a coworker of mine would bring in an unmarked iced coffee. As the curious person that I tend to be, I asked him where he got the coffee and he told me that it was the best iced coffee in the area, bar none. I have since learned that this gentleman is a connoisseur of all things food, and so this was quite a strong recommendation. He told me that it came from a food cart.
If you have never been to New York before, allow me to elaborate on the food cart. In addition to the hundreds of restaurants that one can find in New York, it is possible to find a wide variety of food being served from carts and trucks — breakfast foods, hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, and all things Halal.
Halal is the equivalent to Kosher in the Islamic religion, and it is extremely popular as far as carts go right now in New York — in my last office nearly everyone ordered something from the Halal cart. Vendors will drive the cart up and park it, and then stay there for a number of hours. You can see the coffee cart the way I do when I approach it walking up York Avenue – it is almost always parked on the corner of York and 67th street on the southern intersection. Below you can see a photograph of the cart owner / coffee master who prepares the drinks for you.
The problem with a lot of iced coffee, particularly if you like it a little sweeter, is in the preparation. Assuming that the person making your iced coffee is also the one sweetening it, you most often will get a coffee that isn’t sweet except for the bottom, which feels like you were just hit in the head with a bag of sugar. Not so here — the person actually takes a little hot coffee and a shaker (typically used in making mixed alcohol beverages) and adds the sugar there, and then shakes it to a perfect absorption.
He then adds that to the iced coffee and milk, if you take any. I have yet to get anything other than an exquisite cup of coffee from him, and for two dollars and twenty five cents for 20 ounces, you can’t go wrong. Not only that, but you will most likely never need a second cup from him. I don’t know if it’s higher caffeine content or just more concentrated somehow, but that one cup from him is sometimes the only coffee I drink all day.
Do yourself a favor and visit this great cart if you find yourself visiting the Upper East Side. You’ll get a much better cup of iced coffee than you will just about anywhere else — with much friendlier customer service as well. The gentleman who staffs the cart makes interesting conversation as well as good coffee.