Coffee Chronicles: Joe Corners Columbia University

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[Photos: Liz Clayton]

It's not quite like getting a macchiato at the North Pole, but to many, the freshly opened Joe coffee bar at Columbia University heralds a new day in the Manhattan coffee scene, offering a selection of espresso and manually brewed coffees at unforeseen latitudes.

The sixth Joe is the mini-chain's most lovely: a super-simple cafe bar set quietly in the Portuguese marble lobby of the university's absurdly named Northwest Corner Building, which rises well above the banality of its moniker via the intense design of architect Rafael Moneo.

And unlike each cute, cramped Joe that came before it, there's room here: room to spread out, room to line up and wait patiently for the perfect cup. And in fact this will be emphasized.

"We're really pushing the drip bar here," says Joe owner Jonathan Rubinstein. "It's the only way to get our single origin coffees, and we're going to have a designated brew bar barista to prepare them."


The current single origin coffees, roasted by California-based Ecco Caffe, include a Rwanda Bufcafe Nyarusiza, Brazil Fazenda Santa Alina, Sulawesi Toarco Jaya, and the magnetically appealing Kenya Kiunyu that appeared at Joe shops late last year. As of next week, they'll be paired with Joe Columbia's new food offerings, a sort of haute-student-food menu curated by deliciousness-proven Rachel Graville of Iris Cafe in Brooklyn Heights. A bougie PBJ should wash that Rwandan cup down nicely.

The new Joe is located on the Columbia University campus, on the northwest corner of 120th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam, Manhattan.