Today’s The Sydney Morning Herald ponders how Australia’s Italian immigrants could bring a culture of appreciation for some of the best espresso in the world, and yet New York City — no stranger to Italian immigrants — is such a puzzling espresso wasteland: Brew ha ha in city that falls short on espresso – Opinion – smh.com.au. This is a different angle on a theme we’ve touched on before. (We have also touched on the rare exceptions in recent years.) The Herald even takes its inquiry to the heart of New York’s Little Italy and finds, “a cafe latte in Little Italy is a sad anaemic thing, devoid of flavour and aroma.”

The outsiders’ view of the scourge that is American coffee can sometimes be quite revealing. For example, the article raises the all-too-common occurrence of the great Italian restaurant meal finished by the pathetic Italian espresso. It cites a story where the espresso was sent back and replaced with something pretty decent. When asked why the restaurant didn’t do it right the first time, the barista replied with the exasperated, “They wouldn’t know the difference here.” Ouch. (This might also be the Theory of Consistently Bad Coffee in action.)

The critical subject of how America’s “bigger is better” culture ruins our espresso is also echoed in the article. But what mystery it fails to address is perhaps the greatest one of all about New York City: why is it that an international megacity, with a diverse and wealthy enough population to afford the best of everything in this world, cannot make espresso as good as you could find in, say, Kansas City?

Or, when it comes to espresso, we like to call it, 'Little Attica'

UPDATE: Sept. 13, 2007
Just as New York City required imports from Seattle and other cultural “backwaters” to show the embarrassing local espresso scene how things should be done, London has faced the same problem: Kiwi cafes dominate London Time Out awards – Yahoo!Xtra News. Time Out magazine’s short list for the best cafés in the city apparently include a number of imports from New Zealand.

UPDATE: May 19, 2008
The Sydney Morning Herald published a follow-up to this article, identifying some of the better coffee spots in NYC: A good roasting – Food & Wine – Activities & Interests – Travel – smh.com.au.