Archive | March, 2013

NYC Starbucks: 60th & 1st

9 Mar

60thand1st

Today I woke up to spring. Yesterday may have consisted of snow, rain, and dreary skies. But today spring decided to pay Manhattan a visit for the first time in 2013.

I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to spring with such zeal. In Florida, spring was a simple reminder that summer was on its way. Meaning: stay indoors and crank the AC. But here in New York, I can feel the city’s eagerness for the bloom of spring — which is ironic considering our lack of greenery.

To further brighten my day, I decided to sample the latest addition to the Starbucks espresso family: The Hazelnut Macchiato. Like its sister-drink, the caramel macchiato, you can get this one hot, iced, or skinny. Not only are the macchiatos the most visually appealing drinks, but they are delicious and pack an espresso punch. Although I still prefer the caramel to the hazelnut (I think it’s the vanilla syrup) I appreciate the expansion of the macchiato family. Next, I’d like to see a mocha macchiato variant.

The Starbucks on 60th and 1st Avenue seems to defy neighborhood placement. It is north of Sutton Place — south of Yorkville — East of Lenox Hill — and is west of the East River and Roosevelt Island. All of these areas are relatively small sub-neighborhoods. So I guess we can just say this is another generic Upper East Side Starbucks. Which would explain its superior accommodations.

One of the most charming aspects of this location is that it is slightly tucked in form 1st Avenue, and rows of outdoor chairs have been staggered on the sidewalk – a  concrete version of a park-bench, so to speak. This, combined with the natural lighting and studious crowd, makes it an excellent Starbucks to take a load off at.

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NYC Starbucks: 22nd & 6th

8 Mar

22ndand6th

This Starbucks is my go-to location for my morning coffee. Like so many of you, I can’t imagine coming into work without bearing a coffee in one hand. Luckily this location is directly on my path from the 1-Train in Chelsea to where I work in the Flat Iron.

Surrounded by businesses, this is the type of location where the baristas don’t even need to ask your drink order. They simply smile at you out of recognition and confirm your drink with you: “Venti Pike, right?” — “Yep, that’s me.” Getting to know your team of baristas — or “partners” — has value. Being on a first name basis with those who provide your daily fix is always a good thing. Starbucks clearly takes pride in hiring those with a warm and friendly disposition. Plus they can be an excellent source of information for coffee questions or suggestions. My baristas back home — Logan & Marla — introduced me to many different items — both on and off the menu.

One aspect I really appreciate about this location is that the early morning rush does not affect the welcoming environment. There is a seating area in the back and one on the front, and both are typically bare between the hours of 8am-10am. Which makes perfect sense. Who has time to sit and enjoy their coffee anymore? This guy! If I’m ever ahead of schedule, I can guarantee that  I will be able to find a nice cozy spot here to sit and read the New York Times while I enjoy my coffee and a bagel.

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NYC Starbucks: 38th & 7th

4 Mar

38thand7th

I would be curious to see the ratio of hot coffee vs. iced coffee based on geography and season. When I lived in Florida I only drank iced coffees. Well, that’s not entirely true. I also drank iced lattes, iced mochas, iced teas, and the occasional frapuccino. In-fact, I was never a “big coffee drinker” until I discovered it over ice. Now, I find myself cringing at the thought of adding any unnecessary ice to my life. I’ve become accustomed to my hot coffee to fight the morning chill. I would suppose the percent of iced beverages in a Canadian Starbucks is significantly less than a Southern California location.

Such are the things a true Starbucks addict is able to ponder.

I’m currently sipping my hot coffee at a Starbucks in Midtown. Technically, this Starbucks is in the Garment District, but since it is so close to the intersection of Broadway and 7th Ave it mostly resembles the Times Square and Theatre District locations. Space is tight. The lines are long. And the morning rush never seems to end. But this Starbucks does have one added perk. Directly beyond the barista bar is a staircase leading to a small seating area that looks over the ruckus of Midtown coffee-traffic.

Little perks such as these are an excellent reminder that Starbucks is just as much a cafe as it is a fast-food chain.

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NYC Starbucks: Leonard & West Broadway

3 Mar

leonardandwestbroadway

I’m back with another NYC geography lesson. Today’s topic: TriBeCa. Another one of Manhattan’s abbreviated neighborhoods, TriBeCa stands for the “TRIangle BElow CAnal street.” Seriously, who comes up with these things, and how do they catch on?

Anyway — this neighborhood is literally an upside-down acute triangle, with Canal Street as the base, West Street and the Hudson on the west, and Broadway on the east. Just north of the World Trade Center and the Financial District (FiDi), TriBeCa consists of a lot of residential lofts with inviting restaurants and shops below. TriBeCa also houses many celebrities. A few of the most noted include: Beyonce & Jay-Z, Meryl Streep, Jon Stewart, Justin Timberlake, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

The Starbucks on the corner of Leonard and West Broadway is directly in the center of the triangle that is TriBeCa. And I must say — this is another of the elite Starbucks of the city. I think what is most impressive about this location is the plentiful supply of seating and relatively few occupants. Usually the weekends slam Starbucks with crowds — regardless of the neighborhood — but this location is less than half full — or is it half empty?

More-so than any other Starbucks, I can imagine myself coming here to really knock out some work. The benches and walls are equipped with power outlets, and the the exterior is made up of paneled glass which fills the room with natural light. Although there are an estimated 130 other Starbucks between my apartment and this particular location, the environment this one provides might be worth the trip.

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NYC Starbucks: 92nd & 3rd

2 Mar

92ndand3rd

The Starbucks on 92nd street and 3rd avenue is only the third Starbucks I’ve visited on the Upper East Side, but I am already seeing a pattern. If the Starbucks of NYC were a clothing line, the Upper East Side locations would be the formal wear. These Starbucks dress to impress.

Being up in the 90s, this location actually boarders on East Harlem, which may also explain the communal atmosphere I picked up on while sitting here. Several older patrons seem to frequent the location. They don’t bring laptops or iPads. They come with newspapers and paperback novels. They chat with each other and are on a first name basis with the baristas. Simply adorable — to say the least.

But all Starbucks come with their flaws. Yes this Starbucks may be beautifully decorated and clean — almost sterile, in-fact — it falls short in the practicality department. The small seating lounge is just a bit too snug. Causing people to shift around to let others pass in and out of seats or to the creamer station.

Also, this Starbucks doesn’t appear to have any public power outlets. Unfortunately this too is becoming a pattern I’m noticing. In-fact, I did a bit of research on the matter. Check out this article I discovered from 2011 that talks about the need for Starbucks to eliminate squatters in”extreme cases.” Now I’ve often been quoted saying that Starbucks is my “office” but apparently there are some that have taken that statement to the next level, turning Starbucks into their 9 to 5 workroom.

This begs the question: Is Starbucks cutting off New York’s power supply?

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NYC Starbucks: 10th & Hudson

1 Mar

10thandhudson

Welcome to the West Village — where avenues and streets are of no relevance and the stride of the average New Yorker slows down approximately 2 miles per hour.

When I first moved to NYC all of the different “Villages” confused me. West Village — East Village — Greenwich Village — what the hell is the difference?! Now I think I’ve finally straightened it out. Greenwich Village and East Village are two separate neighborhoods — splitting off in the center of Manhattan. The West Village is a smaller neighborhood that encompasses all of Greenwich village west of 7th avenue. And I hope you’re paying attention — there will be a quiz at the end of the year.

I have a sweet spot for this particular West Village Starbucks. One reason for this is because it is the closest location to the Christopher Street Piers — which I frequented over the summer. But mainly because on my first week in NYC I sat down at this location, starred out into the streets of my new home, and wrote postcards to some of my dear friends and family back home. I know: how stereotypical!

The point is that this Starbucks was the perfect location for doing that. Tucked away in the Village, this Starbucks gets much less of a crowd than most. Which is good because it is a small location, and it really couldn’t handle much more. But it has all the necessities and added West Village charm. My favorite feature is the small counter bar that acts as both a seating area and a divider between the barista line and lounge.

A great Starbucks to visit on a Sunday afternoon. And bring a postcard or journal while you’re at it.

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Reflection: February

1 Mar

february_edit

In the month of February I visited 10 different Starbucks in 10 neighborhoods — 7 of which were new neighborhoods entirely. Continue reading

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