Westchester’s newest cup of (excellent) espresso comes with old New York roots.
When an indie coffee roaster worth waking up for lands in your sleepy, semi-industrial Westchester neighborhood, it only confirms what you knew all along: Where you live is secretly cool. Our fringe neighborhoods are evolving into revitalized zones with inevitable Brooklyn comparisons to follow. Year-old Caffe Ammi in Pelham is the type of place where a Williamsburg transplant might spend his or her first week decompressing over oat-milk lattes, texting friends to please come visit.
The coffee DNA is pumped in from Ammirati Inc. next door, the country’s first importer of La Cimbali espresso machines, founded in 1963 in East Harlem by Dominic P. Ammirati. Dominic’s son and grandsons — they grew up with the business, unloading trucks, grinding coffee, and riding shotgun on service calls — now own the business and café.
Rising like a mirage from the empty sidewalk, a sandwich board features a seasonal, lavender-honey latte. Don’t miss this: The syrup is made with wild French lavender (from a recent trip to Seattle’s Pike Place Market) and honey rather than sugar. The circular logo is slashed through with some kind of tool. “It’s a tryer,” the barista tells me, used for sampling beans mid-roast. I’m shown how it’s used on the gleaming Loring S15 Falcon roaster, a fuel-conserving, emission-lowering green machine.
Near me, a tattooed cop and a woman on WiFi seem almost serene in the lofty white space with wood beams and a tile floor. A jaunty 1940s photo of the grandparents hugs one wall, and folk rock plays in the background. Behind the marble counter, La Cimbali and Faema espresso machines help baristas execute drinks, including an unexpected Bulletproof (a keto-diet thing), coffee blended with coconut oil and ghee. Someone must be drinking it.
I gingerly inhale the house espresso, a medium-roast blend of wet- and dry-processed Arabica coffees that’s nutty, bright, and slightly sweet. Oh yes. The rotating selection includes single-origin coffee and micro lots, born of sampling hundreds of green coffees from around the world. Joey Ammirati, who came up with the idea to open Caffe Ammi, is currently favoring the Honduras San Marcos, which he describes as “a sweet, delicate cup of coffee with notes of honey and light chocolate.”
Single-origin beans and blends are also sold in bags. (I’m tempted by one made for cold brew.) There’s nitro cold brew and organic blueberry rooibos tea on draft. Expect cold-brew-lemonade and matcha lemonade to appear this summer, as well.
The small selection of baked goods seems underwhelming, but the almond croissant sparks joy. Daily deliveries from Balthazar Bakery and Ceci Cela Patisserie bring croissants, monkey bread, fruit tarts, and muffins.
109 Sixth St