Intelligentsia Opens NYC Branch

The opening today of Intelligentsia's first New York City location, in Chelsea, isn't just a big day for coffee maniacs.

It is also a momentous occasion for cookie zealots.

This Chicago-based roaster of impeccably sourced coffee is also committed to sourcing top local talent to sweeten each of its individuality-minded cafés.

At New York's High Line Hotel branch, the chosen baker is Umber Ahmad of Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery.

Ahmad, who works on business strategy with Tom Colicchio, transformed her baking habit into a business by bringing the chef her sweets one day, which she likens to "bringing a prayer book to the Pope."

Intelligentsia's brick-and-zinc lobby bar is the first–and only–place to experience Ahmad's epically good sea-salt-dusted chocolate chip cookies ($2.25), which both crackle and yield; vanilla-bean shortbread ($1.50); dark chocolate brownies ($3.50); and Mah-Ze-Dahr bars ($3.25).

Ahmad's engineering degree and Pakistani heritage both inform her baking: She rests her chocolate chip cookie dough for 36 hours for maximum hydration and even caramelization, and cures orange rinds for a month for her shortbread.

Her signature Mah-Ze-Dahr bars, an oatmeal-brown sugar cookie base with toasted pecans and chocolate bits, bathed in brown-butter caramel, are destined to be the cause of many a coffee-run excuse.