I tend to stick very close when it comes to coffee shops. Like I want someplace within 4 blocks of my front door. Since I’m lucky enough to have two places that fit that bill, I never made it to Dear Mama Coffee, despite seeing tons of good reviews. Well things definitely change during COVID times and a slightly longer trip to a coffee shop feels like a real adventure nowadays.
Dear Mama is more than just a coffee shop and I’m not just saying that because they serve beer and wine (they do). In addition to great coffee and a fun atmosphere (with the walls covered in paintings by a local graffiti artist), there’s a great food menu. I haven’t worked my way through the whole thing, but I’ve now tried a breakfast sandwich, two pastries, two lunch items, and two types of lattes. All great.
When it comes to coffee, I’m a fan of their blends. I’m partial to the East Harlem and Madré varieties. Great as drip coffee and great in some of their more inventive drinks. On my latest visit I tried their iced Mexico City Mocha. It’s espresso, oat milk, chocolate, chile-Infused simple syrup, cayenne, cinnamon, and agave. It was wonderful. It didn’t taste so out of the box but was just different enough from your basic vanilla iced latte. Also, though it sounds like lots of bells and whistles, which usually means sweetness alert, this wasn’t at all too sweet for a morning caffeine fix.
El Barrio 2.0. This is a next level breakfast sandwich. I’ve since gone back to get this sandwich again…along with a ham and cheese croissant and a Sir Muffington. That muffin was not at all like I expected. With a carrot cake base, chocolate chips, orange marmalade, and a sugar oat topping I imagined something super sweet. Not so. I guess because everything is more or less natural and it’s not loaded with sugar this will not be a super sweet treat, which actually makes it perfect for breakfast
I also tried their new potato salad and their version of a caesar salad. Both were great. The potato salad had clearly just been prepared. The potatoes were in large chunks and while it included egg and a creamy dressing, there wasn’t too much of either. Honestly, this is pretty much how I make my own potato salad so it was right up my alley. I didn’t take pictures of the salad but the croutons were so fresh – where you can actually see how the bread was torn.
They were one of the first spots I knew that converted a portion of their store to serve as a general store of sorts. They are providing basic necessities that had become very hard to acquire during the pandemic. They also have a note on their website requesting a heads up if you know someone in Harlem who’s struggling and they’ll deliver them a meal. Thank you for looking out for the community.
Realistically, Dear Mama won’t be my daily coffee spot when I’ve got some wonderful options directly downstairs…but I’m definitely more likely to walk a few extra blocks in the future. Also, I imagine a day will come when I want a BEC and a coffee delivered straight to me (read: hangover) and I know Dear Mama will be my best friend then.