This past Tuesday was not one of my best mornings. After running on four hours of sleep, forgetting to brush my teeth, and dealing with a delay on the 1 train, I stumbled into work at 9 AM exhausted, grumpy, and un-caffeinated.
I knew that the day was going to be rough, so I grabbed a nearby coworker for a 30-minute coffee break after discovering this place on Yelp. As a latte art enthusiast, I couldn’t help but be tempted by the glowing recommendations and aesthetic photos from the community. In the end, what sold it for me was this golden Yelp review gem: “just perfectly tucked away from the horrors of Times Square, it’s a great place to unwind after a day tramping the streets of the city” (this reviewer understands me).
Tulian and Robert, co-owners and best friends, opened Frisson Espresso to the public on December 27, 2014. Previously, Tulian worked with espresso machines as a technician, and Robert used to own a bodega. Together, they combined their different experiences into their first café venture: Frisson Espresso, an effort to bring back quality and hospitality to the field.
As someone who seeks inspiration from her surroundings, I was disappointed by its interior. Frisson looked like an Asian convenience store, complete with poor fluorescent lighting, slightly tacky décor, and a pastry display case that you would find in a Chinatown bakery. Volume-wise, the Yelp review did hold true because my coworker and I could hold a conversation without having to raise our voices.
Frisson did not have many seats, so we sat in front of a “Coffeology” mantra that would fit right in with the inspirational quotes that suburban moms seem to adore.
I normally appreciate puns, but my rough morning left me in a sarcastic mood, and I was not in the mood for the cliché coffee puns like “Dejá brew” and “Espresso yourself” that had me mentally face palming.
Despite my negative first impression, the space slowly grew on me. The barista warmly gave us suggestions when she noticed that we were standing with bewildered expressions in front of the extensive menu. I did not see any of the dreaded tourist fanny packs (thank god), but instead, I saw many working professionals also trying to escape Midtown. After our moment of indecision, we both ended up ordering a matcha latte, which was not listed on the menu.
It takes a talented barista to create the intricate latte art that we saw last Tuesday. Even with poor lighting, the lattes were works of art. But, intricate lattes always make me skeptical about the actual taste of the drink. The latte was almost too beautiful to drink, so I reluctantly destroyed the art with my first sip. I was pleasantly surprised at how well balanced the milk was with the matcha. While I prefer a stronger matcha flavor, I liked that the latte was not too sweet.
Although this coffee shop would not be my place of choice for working or studying, I did come back the following week to try their cappuccino. The cappuccino was phenomenal—it combined a soothing, medium body, with their signature latte art.
Frisson Coffee doesn’t need a pretentious, hipster interior to overcompensate for bad coffee. The elaborate latte art, the friendly human interaction, and the location “just perfectly tucked away from the horrors of Time Square” are good enough to keep regular customers coming back for more.
Have any good coffee recommendations? Leave me a comment below.
Address: 326 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036 (47th Street between 8th Avenue and 9th Avenue)
Amenities: Seating, pastries, free wifi, accepts credit card