The nicest place to buy coffee and tea in New York, is also its oldest. Tucked away in the West Village is the quiet and unassuming McNulty’s, a small store that has been selling rare teas and choice coffees ever since 1895.
Walking inside is truly like stepping back in time. It is also a deliciously aromatic delight for the senses! Burlap sacks of coffee beans imported from all over the world are piled on the gently sloping wooden floorboards. Coffees such as the Guatemalan Antigua, the Sumatra Mandehling and the highly prized Jamaican Blue Mountain.
Underneath the old tin tile ceilings are every sort of tea and coffee your heart could desire. Jars of fragrantly spiced tea leaves line the shelves and cabinets. Teas such as Golden Black Gunpowder, Ceylon Silvertips, Imperial Gold Oolong and the heavily smoked Lapsang Souchong.
McNulty’s originally opened a few doors down from its current address on Christopher Street at the end of the 19th century. Local legend has it that the owner was one Judge McNulty, an Irish immigrant affiliated with the notorious Tammany Hall. Perhaps providing a welcome distraction from the city courts, he opened the McNulty Tea and Coffee Company in Manhattan’s West Village. The shop still sells a ‘Secret Judge Blend’ coffee that was created for the owner. In the 1920s, McNulty’s moved to its current address at number 109.
Buying coffee and tea today is done just as it was over a hundred and twenty years ago. Behind the wooden counter, are the original deep tins where the beans are stored, decorated with Javanese script, and faded gilt images of Chinese tea leaf farmers.
The leaves or beans are weighed out on scales that date back to the early 1900s. The tea or coffee is then poured into wooden bags that are marked with the name of your choice by one of the hundreds of small, red stamps that line the walls.
Today McNulty’s is owned by Wing H. Wong, and his son David, who have run the shop for nearly forty years
“A visit to our store is like a journey to another age”, explain father & son. “The aura of a century long gone is timelessly preserved.”
Pictured below; a custom blend made specifically for the late husband of famous NY Times restaurant critic, Mimi Sheraton–a decades-old secret recipe that she continues to come in for to this day, but also on offer to any customer curious enough to enquire about the custom blends.
So while much of the old West Village has been gentrified out of existence, McNulty’s is still the finest place to buy your coffee and tea in the city, and remains one of Manhattan’s true hidden gems.