My love of San Francisco-based, east-coast expanding Blue Bottle Coffee has been well noted on this site in other articles here and here. However, the Chelsea location is a little bit different, and to make things complete they even have toast. Not just any old toast either. Delicious brioche.
Opposite the building for Chelsea Market, Blue Bottle is still a popular little spot, which says something, as Ninth Street Espresso is just a stone's throw away inside the marketplace. The first time I visited this location there were a few people enjoying coffees there. The next time I visited on a weekend it was well and truly pumping with a line to order, and many people enjoying their coffee in the limited space there. The service remained friendly and non-stressed even though it was busy.
The espresso and drip coffees offered at all the Blue Bottle locations I've visited are here in Chelsea. There's a little extra bonus too here though. If you swan up the little staircase to the right of the counter, and to the left of the flowers/lids etc (in the top photo), you find yourself in an intimate little area. There's a spot for you to hang your warm coats against the wall.
When you've done that, you'll find six stalls that sit in front of the bar up here and one man dedicated to finding you a different coffee experience. Too bad we'd already ordered our lattes - we could've enjoyed some siphon coffee with our toast. Now, I can see that some people would find this little area pretentious. I felt slightly out of place, especially as we had already got our lattes, and they were in take-away cups to boot. It didn't quite mesh with the sleek, stainless steel, streamlined and high-tech feel of the area.
The guy working there was friendly though and didn't seem to be looking down on us with our regular coffees. We had to wait for him to cook our toast as he was working on a coffee that required his constant attention. Again, this will be a polarising idea. Some will think that it's pretentious to experiment this much with coffees. To me it seems like it's driven by a passion to find the best flavour and that can only be a good thing.
The lighting is soft and it's warm and cosy. There were two other people sitting up the other end of the bar who were enjoying a chat and I felt that we could continue our conversation and not be overheard even though the space is quite small.
The brioche was good. My only complaint would be that the butter was very cold and didn't really melt properly, and made for difficult spreading. You can see some clumps in the picture down below. Apart from that it was delicious and the entire experience of sitting perched on my little stall with a fantastic cup of coffee and some good old toast was a highly enjoyable experience.
If you don't like toast, you're a freak... no, if you don't like toast then there are biscuits and other things on offer to snack on too like saffron snickerdoodles, chocolate cookies or even a block of Mast Brothers Chocolate with chillis in it.
There might not be space available though, which is the only drawback. The positive of the small space and feeling like you're in on a secret is also the negative as when it's busy it could be quite difficult to luck out and claim a stall.