Pair your cup of coffee with local art and music

Afzal Hossain steams some milk on Espresso 77's La Marzocco machine. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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Jackson Heights has a joint where the well-crafted cups of joe draw the accolades from coffee connoisseurs across the city.

At Espresso 77, on 77th Street off 37th Avenue, owner Afzal Hossain and his crew of skilled baristas patiently fix up artful creations, and they have some serious hardware to work with.

The cozy coffee shop employs a handcrafted La Marzocco espresso machine — considered to be the best of the best and priced that way — to brew up its Gimme! Coffee beans roasted in Ithaca, N.Y.

Hossain said he spent about seven years living in Seattle, observing the local coffee scene before returning home to his eclectic, multi-ethnic neighborhood.

“No one is drinking flavored things in Seattle,” Hossain said, explaining that he and his staff regularly experiment with new flavors. “I know my neighborhood. They’re asking for a lot of flavored stuff.”

Seasonal flavors include the apple cider chai, the peppermint midnight mocha and the pumpkin latte, which earned the coffee shop a tip of the hat from Time Out NY magazine. It has also been mentioned in AM New York as one of the trendy destinations in chic Queens.

If a heavy dose of caffeine is not enough to sate your appetite, Espresso 77 also offers menu items that include a challah-bread french toast, curry chicken salad and a mushroom, goat cheese and fig wrap.

As the weather starts to turn for the fall, cozy up in one of the shop’s comfy chairs with a grilled cheese sandwich and take in some of the visual stimulants of the spot’s other incarnation: an art space named Gallery 77.

Hossain, himself a painter, invites local artists to display their works, which range from oil paintings to bumper stickers to borough pride and T-shirts with a distinctive Jackson Heights flare.

Every two months the works hanging on the south wall are replaced with new ones and the space hosts regular exhibitions and music performances at night, when patrons are more likely to imbibe the beer and wine offerings than they are weekend mornings, when mothers and strollers make up the clientele.

Hossain said the many personalities who visit his coffee shop reflected the neighborhood, where the children of multi-ethnic parents are liable to speak three or more languages. Such a diverse community, he said, was just crying out for a place to go.

“I live in the neighborhood, and I didn’t see anywhere to go,” he said. “We all grew up here, we need a place to go and talk. It’s got a real home feeling like a small living room for the neighborho­od.”

Espresso 77, at 35-57 77th St., will host an opening reception for an exhibit of Hossain’s own work Sept. 28 beginning at 7 p.m. For more information, visit or or call 718-424-1077.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 5:26 pm, September 26, 2012
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