Named after a historic Harlem jumping rope game with the same name, Double Dutch Espresso has been a popular neighborhood establishment since it opened its doors to the South Harlem community in 2013.
As a new Upper West Side resident, I’ve been excited to become more familiar with my neighborhood. More specifically—after spending a year in the Netherlands, I’ve been on the lookout for a coffee shop with a cozy, “gezellig” atmosphere to relax or do work.
Double Dutch did the trick for me—its space skillfully balances attention to detail and cozy unpretentiousness, without forgetting its Harlem roots. The coffee shop has a tricky railroad-style layout, which is very long and narrow. Despite the layout and its many patrons, the space is warm and inviting, without feeling crowded.
The transparent doors flood the cafe with the perfect amount of sunlight. When you walk in, you’ll notice that the wall shelves to your left and right are filled with rustic antiques and pothos leaves. In the back of the store, it also has an outdoor patio, the perfect place to socialize or do work during the warmer months.
I arrived on a Saturday at 12:30 for a post-lunch pick-me-up. Many of the customers came with laptops and earphones, and took advantage of the free wi-fi and many outlets available.
Double Dutch serves Counter Culture Coffee, teas from Rishi Tea, a variety of pastries from New York favorites, such as Balthazar Bakery and Ovenly, sandwiches, and toasts. They also have a punch card, so you can get a free beverage of your choice after ordering 10 items (pastries included!). While ordering my cappuccino ($4) and Belgian waffle ($4.25), I noticed two good signs that the baristas knew what they were doing: the sound of beans being freshly ground, and conversely, the absence of sound during the milk frothing process.
The coffee art was lovely and the cappuccino was well blended with whole milk. However, after waiting for the coffee to cool, the cappuccino began to taste slightly sour. The Belgian waffle was not the same as the ones that I’ve tried in Belgium and the Netherlands, but was still tasty. I ordered an iced herbal hibiscus tea called “[name]”later in the afternoon after the barista’s recommendation, and it turned out to be pleasantly tart without being overpowering.
Overall, one thing that struck me about Double Dutch was how neighborly the environment was. As a California transplant, the easy friendliness of the other customers in striking up conversation was a welcome surprise. I had the chance to speak with a few people who have grown up in South Harlem their entire lives. While the punch card provides me with an excuse to return, it’s not necessary—the “gezellig”, amicable atmosphere of Double Dutch Espresso will keep me coming back.
Address: 2194 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10019 (Between 118th Street and 119th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd)
Amenities: Lots of seating, pastries, outlets, free wifi, accepts credit card, outlets, outdoor patio