Australian Coffee Culture in NYC: Two Hands

Two Hands is one of only a handful (no pun intended) of Australian café’s in NYC.  Coffee culture in Australia is actually a pretty serious thing (who knew?).

In Manhattan alone there’s over 200 Starbucks locations on an island that’s only 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide.  From this, we can assume this is because New Yorkers think Starbucks has good coffee.  However, in Australia, there are only 24 Starbucks locations in the entire country after closing 61 of them from a lack of business.

All of this comes down to the fact that Australia has extremely high standards in their quality of coffee, so adding an Australian café, sitting between Little Italy and Chinatown, only makes sense to true coffee lovers of NYC.

The coffee alone is worth stopping by for, but the delicious and health conscious light bites are an added bonus.  Two Hands has a number of healthy breakfast/lunch options like granola bowls, salads, smoothies, acai bowls, avocado toast, and more.

So bypass the Starbucks chains and head over to Two Hands for more than an average cup of joe.

30 replies

  1. It is amusing, but true, that Aussies have this coffee snob rep. Basically we eat or drink anything and lots of it but there is invariably a comment in an Aussie blog that “the coffee in XYZ was crap”. It usually is. Just back from Europe and it was bad with a couple of exceptions. Often it is as simple as how you order it. Found a great place in Aix En Provence called Coffee to Go. On closer examination there was a framed certificate for “Barista Training in Australia”. Will check this place out. I will never ever return to Starbucks. Once is enough, it is swill

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  2. I can honestly say that after noticing the very high amount of Starbucks all over the city,I decided to boycott them and strictly go to local and small brew coffee shops..Suprisingly they’re easy to find when you look.This went on for a year and I had no adverse coffee withdrawls! My reasoning behind it was,that if they were as prevalent as Mcdonalds is in fast food, then how could the quality of the coffee not be as horrible as Mcdonalds food!? Not to mention it saved me money and the hipster in me enjoyed being smug and avoiding a corporate mug of brew 🙂
    That is pretty interesting information about Australia,way to go Aussies! 🙂

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  3. As an Australian who has lived in the US for 14 years, I wholeheartedly agree with your comments! I have tried, repeatedly, to find an item on the Starbucks menu that tastes good. Acceptable even. I gave up years ago. Recognizing that his wife was heading towards a serious meltdown if a reliable coffee source was not found, my NYC-born husband shelled out $4,000 for our La Spaziale espresso machine. It was a good investment. Reliable, quality, coffee and an Australian born, if not trained, barista!

    ps: he called me a coffee snob for years. Then we lived in Australia and he was served quality coffee pretty much everywhere he went. Claims he is now ruined for American coffee and I wasn’t a snob after all 🙂

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    • Not much experience with US coffee but think secret to Aussie coffee is consistency. If you order a capucinno for eg you know what you will get across the country. In Europe you could get anything. All in knowing the ordering specifics in a given country whereas as Aussies we assume they are universal terms. Aussies would rarely order a black coffee here whereas I imagine that is common in USA. In movie/TV land they always pour a cup of Joe from the forever present percolating jug. In Australian homes we have small personal expresso machines everywhere 🙂

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  4. Interesting post, bringing back memories of September 2000 when we arrived in Sydney to attend the Olympic games. There was a lot of hoopla about the first Starbucks opening there so we tried it out. I didn’t hear any Australian accents in the place except for the baristas. I suspected there was a reason. There are apparently 2 such places in the DC area, Cassat’s in Arlington, Virginia which actually is a Kiwi operation but does have the Flat Whites on its menu. It was good but I have no basis for comparison. An Australian writing a review for Trip Advisor highly recommends Filter Coffeehouse and Espresso Bar at 1726 20th Street Northwest, Washington DC, DC 20009. Based on the strong feelings from the comments above, it seems I should get over there and find out about it. Thanks for the post. This spot will be on my list for the next trip up there.

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  5. I went to a Gloria Jean’s, an Australian cafe chain, for the first time last year. I was actually writing about it in a blog post for tomorrow. I’ve been so intrigued about Australian coffee culture since. I would definitely like to visit this cafe next time I’m in NY.

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  6. Hahaha, I love this post! Having travelled extensively through the world and being an Australian I can attest to the fact that there’s no coffee quite like home! And the coffee snobbery in Australia doesn’t just stop at the country itself – it actually expands into cities. Melbourne is where coffee is at!
    Coffee is a way of life, and a bad coffee inexcusable. In fact, most Aussies will not label it “real coffee” unless it has been made by not just a barista a talented barista. Competition is fierce, and the results are little cups of heaven!
    Thanks for the tip about Two Hands, I’m gonna be in NYC in a couple of weeks and luckily this is right near where I’m staying will definitely look them up! Take care, Kazza

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  7. I’m a Melbourne girl, born and bred and we do take our coffee seriously. Travelling overseas I never found coffee that matched what we have back at home. Paris also has a fare few Australian coffee shops as well as LA.

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  8. Fascinating stuff! I had no idea that the Aussies were coffee snobs, but they are certainly right about Starbucks. How they survive in Britain I do not know. Aussies, if you ever come to Winchester try the coffee in Tom’s Deli – he’s half Italian. I’d also love to know what Americans and Aussies think of Italian tea.

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  9. As a native New Yorker now living in Oamaru, New Zealand, I can attest to the fact that we do not think highly of Starbucks in this corner of the world. But there are even fewer Starbucks in NZ than there are in Australia, even when you factor in our smaller size, since as good as Australian coffee supposedly is, it’s FAR better in New Zealand! After all, it was here that the flat white was invented (along with the pavlova, but that’s another story).

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  10. Melbourne is where the BEST coffee is and I’m not just staying that because I’ve lived here for 13 years. When I went Europe 3 years ago the coffee was disgusting, I was shocked or maybe I was just finding bad places that looked like they made good coffee. The first time I do as soon as I come back from holidays overseas…have a coffee.

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