Archive | October, 2013

NYC Starbucks: 44th & Madison

7 Oct

44th and Madison Starbucks

Here’s a small hint to the rating system I have been working with since this blog’s inception. If the only nice thing I can say about a NYC Starbucks is it’s in a good location, then — yea — it’s a 1-Cup Starbucks. Case in point: The Starbucks on 44th & Madison Avenue.

This Starbucks is directly across the best-kept secret Starbucks I visited last Friday. Unfortunately, last week’s Starbucks hides so well, that this one is forced to take the brunt of Midtown traffic — even though it’s much smaller and has one-fourth the seating. The coffee line wasn’t too long, but ironically there was even a line of people waiting for someone to leave the completely occupied seating area.

The only thing this Starbucks has going for it is the fact that there’s no restroom, so obviously, the patrons can’t linger forever.

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NYC Starbucks: 55th & Madison (Sony)

6 Oct

55th and Madison Starbucks

I’ve seen my fair share of unique New York City Starbucks since starting this blog. Adding to that list — and possibly being one of the most interesting Starbucks in the city — is the Starbucks inside the Sony building on the corner of 55th & Madison in Midtown.

This Starbucks is literally inside of the Sony electronics store, blended perfectly in with the speakers and televisions. Most Starbucks within other buildings (e.g. Target and The NHL Store) are clearly separated by either half walls, glass panels or simply different tiles. But here the barista station is directly across from electronics displays and entertainment centers. Signing for the latest Sony speaker is placed directly above Starbucks’ newest blend. One wouldn’t think that coffee and electronics go so well together, but something about this co-branding just works.

The Starbucks is clearly visible from the 55th street as well, so it’s not like you need to be in the market for a new TV to swing by and grab yourself a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Also, there is an expansive indoor public seating area that connects this Starbucks to the street. Here you’ll find a public restroom (enter if you dare), tons of seats and a few other small shops and studios that enter into this lobby. Not to mention natural sun light from the glass paneled ceiling.

So for all you techie-coffee enthusiasts out there, this one is must-see when you come to New York.

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NYC Starbucks: 45th & 5th

5 Oct

45th and 5th Starbucks

While waiting in line at the Midtown Starbucks on 45th and 5th Avenue, I couldn’t help recalling a conversion I had just had with a classmate this morning.

We were discussing the noticeable increase in Starbucks lines and speculating what’s causing it. She suggested that the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) is to blame — the increased demand for espresso based drinks has caused people to wait longer in lines. I suggested my weird and elaborate theory of the coffee shop migration patterns of New Yorkers — clearly, still working out the details. Clearly the PSL theory is more plausible.

But standing in the stagnant line a new theory came to me: The Tourist Effect. Simply put, tourists take longer to order; therefore, neighborhoods with more NYC landmarks (Midtown, SoHo, FiDi) are apt to have longer and slower moving lines. I mean no prejudice or xenophobia, but generally tourists are less familiar with the Starbucks menu and more likely to run into a language barrier with their barista. The result: confused baristas, longer lines and frustrated New Yorkers.

The Tourist Effect was in full swing today at this Starbucks. I helplessly watched as the young woman in front of me struggled to place her order and the barista put his best ear forward. You want an iced tea with mocha sauce? That was his best guess and all I needed to know that I’d be here a while longer. But, alas, after a few more trails and errors she was able to order her drink and me mine.

Now I sit here and overhear similar situations play out every 5-10 minutes. And the line just keeps on coming. Luckily, half those who enter are deterred once they realize this Starbucks has no bathroom. And probably this fact alone protects the long teal sofa and high chairs from being overrun with squatters.

Fortunately, this Starbucks has plenty of shopping right outside its doors. You know, just in case you need some retail therapy to help you cope from the stressors of long coffee lines.

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NYC Starbucks: 43rd & Madison

4 Oct

43rd and Madison Starbucks

I wish I worked in an office building big enough to justify a Starbucks in the lobby. Instead of my caffeine addiction causing me to be late for work (occasionally), I could simply run by my the inter-office Starbucks just before. Assuredly they’d know me and probably have my drink rang up before I could even say something. At least that’s the dream. In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for my old creaky elevators and visiting other office Starbucks. Like the one at 335 Madison…

I labeled this location the Starbucks on 43rd & Madison, but from standing on that cross-street you would never know there was a Starbucks inside the towering office building at 335 Madison. You would see the one across the street and probably go there instead. I almost did just that. Then I called this Starbucks’ number (thank Starbucks app!) and found out this Starbucks is deep inside the building. Essentially, unless you work here or are actively seeking this location, you’d never find it.

At first I thought this was a disadvantage to this Starbucks. But after sitting here a while, I began to reconsider. There’s no tourists. No families. No crowds of teenagers or random homeless people. There’s just business men and a few other scattered people who come here for a calm environment. I even saw an interview take place at the table across from me.

Now I feel like I’ve been let in on a secret. This is New York City’s hidden Starbucks, and I just thought you should know.

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NYC Starbucks: 88th & Broadway

3 Oct

88th and Broadway Starbucks

I’m moving to the Upper West Side. It’s settled.

Well, not really — or at least not yet — but I keep finding all the best Starbucks in this neighborhood. Over the summer, I royally impressed by the large and expansive Starbucks on 86th and Columbus, and now just a few blocks away I’ve come across another Starbucks deserving of a 5-Cup rating. And for very similar reasons!

Take Broadway north 6 miles from yesterday’s Starbucks on Thames and you’ll arrive at the Starbucks on 86th & Broadway. What difference does 6 miles make? A whole lot of room. In fact, this Starbucks has an entire floor dedicated to nothing but lounging about and sipping coffee. There’s two sets of padded comfy chairs, tons of smaller tables, a long sofa and tons of power outlets for New Yorkers in need of a recharge. But aren’t we all?

The ground level of this Starbucks only has a small patch of seating, but that also works to its advantage. This way the crowd and service area of this Starbucks is completely separated from the seating. So your coffee talk with a friend isn’t constantly interrupted by a constantly flowing line of espresso deprived strangers. Even the restroom is downstairs. Perfecto.

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NYC Starbucks: Thames & Broadway

2 Oct

Cedar and Broadway Starbucks

What I wouldn’t give to see New York City in its early days — I’m talking 18th or 19th Century. And today my adventure took me to a Starbucks location that has been a coffee house for over 200 years.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Starbucks on the corner of Thames and Broadway in downtown Manhattan. From the exterior architecture alone, I could tell I was going to like this Starbucks. It looked anything but typical, and when I walked inside I got an eyeful of New York themed artwork, dark wood paneling and crowded tables for two. I also spotted this large peculiar box that I soon realized was an elevator for the disabled to access the barista bar, which is a few steps elevated from the seating area — thanks American with Disabilities Act!

Once I ordered my drink, I came across a large painting on the far back wall of the Starbucks (above). Depicted is what looks like a cafe during colonial times, and it was labeled Burns Coffee House: 1763. Of course, I did my research and found out that this Starbucks is in the very spot that Burns once stood. It makes me wonder how a coffee house operated in the 1700s. I doubt they had iced coffee.

So despite the fact that this Starbucks is sort of small, kind of dark, and has no public restroom, I’m giving it a 4-Cup rating because of it’s history and uniqueness.

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NYC Starbucks: 50th & Lexington

1 Oct

50th and Lexington Starbucks

What better way to start another month of highly caffeinated blogging then to just jump right in. September was great, but October is one of my favorite months. Cool (not cold) weather, changing leaves, and — of course — Halloween. As usually, I have no idea what I want to be yet, but I’m sure that spark of creativity will hit eventually. And this year is especially exciting since Halloween was essentially cancelled in NYC last year due to Hurricane Sandy. Here’s hoping for a dry month!

October may also be the month where I switch back to hot coffee in the morning. Half my colleagues already have, and it’s only a matter of time before the cold weather forces me into it. Stay tuned.

Currently, I’m sipping my (iced) coffee at the Starbucks on 50th & Lexington. It’s directly above the 51st street 6 train and shaped like a a pentagon with angled windows facing 50th. One unique thing about this Starbucks is that it’s a Midtown Starbucks with outdoor seating. I never would have imagined such a thing exists. But here I sit.

I’d imagine the reason this Starbucks can afford outdoor seating is because this part of Midtown is much more business oriented and has virtually no tourists. So besides those looking to catch the 6 train, this location has a pretty moderate crowd. It also has a good amount of seating and a circular design that probably makes the morning rush much more organized than some of the cramped and narrow Starbucks here in NYC. 

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Reflection: September

1 Oct

NYC Starbucks_September

 

18 Starbucks in one month! No this isn’t the most I’ve visited since starting this blog; however it is probably my biggest achievement. Why? Because I visited all 18 of these Starbucks in the first month of the fall semester of grad school at NYU. This wasn’t winter break, summer break or any other reprieve. This was just pure time management skills. Or maybe it’s because the month of September has had the best weather of the year. Not too hot, not too cold.

Also this month, instead of strictly blogging about Starbucks after Starbucks with the narrowest of vision, I decided to act more like a blogger within a community and read and write on other blogs as well. You can read my Reflection: On Blogging post for the full details. But — just know — it’s been going well. I had no idea other people were so interesting! … a joke (mostly).

As  far as the quality is concerned, this month was kind of a downer. I couldn’t find any 5-Cup rated Starbucks, but I did stumble upon five 1-Cup rated locations. And of course, the majority of them were in Midtown.

So this brings me to 145 Starbucks and counting with just three months left in the year. Can I average 20 Starbucks each month going forward to finish the year off in victory? Stay tuned.

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