Archive | November, 2013

NYC Starbucks: 168th & Broadway

15 Nov

168th and Broadway Starbucks

 

Before I even begin this post, I want it to be known that the Starbucks drink pictured above is not my typical iced coffee. Oh no! It’s something much better. My favorite seasonal drink… the Eggnog Latte.

I was pretty overweight growing up. I didn’t exercise regularly. Guzzled soda. And always asked for a second or third serving at dinner. Still… I blame my adoration of eggnog for a lot of my weight problems. In fact, I remember one distinct December evening where I had consumed nearly a half-gallon of eggnog on my own that something clicked in my mind. That night I decided my new years resolution would be to lose weight by curving my diet, and by my 17th birthday in February I had already dropped over 20 pounds. I like to say that was the year that changed my life. I ended the year nearly 60 pounds lighter, enrolled in a weightlifting class and ready to bulk up in a positive way.

So obviously, I have a love/hate relationship with eggnog. So I figure having it in my lattes every now and again is a safe enough. I also make my own damn-good christmas coffee with nutmeg, cinnamon and eggnog instead of creamer.

But enough about eggnog. Let’s talk about the Starbucks on 168th and Broadway. As of today this is the 2nd most-northern Starbucks in Manhattan. I say “as of today” because Starbucks is in the process of building a Starbucks in Inwood, which is the highest neighborhood on the island. I don’t think it’ll be open by the end of the year, but that still won’t stop me from making the journey up to see it. ¬†This Starbucks is in the large neighborhood of Washington Heights and is conveniently located on top of the A/C and 1 train station.

Needless to say, the Broadway up here is very different than the Broadway in Midtown or even the Broadway in the Upper West Side. Everything up here is much more spread out. You actually have room to breathe — except inside the Starbucks itself. I guess I thought the Starbucks up here would be larger than those in Midtown or FiDi (since space is much cheaper) but they’re really not. This Starbucks is just as small, just as crowded and just as dirty as some of the Midtown Starbucks I’ve come across. The only difference is the patrons up here are locals and not tourists — which are much more tolerable to be around.

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NYC Starbucks: Murray & Church

13 Nov

Murray and Church Starbucks

 

I was actually on my way to a different Starbucks in FiDi when I passed by the Starbucks on Murray and Church. I had to do a double-take to make sure I hadn’t already been to and rated this Starbucks before. Am I losing track of where I’ve been? Maybe… After all, I’ve been to over 170 Starbucks. Deja vu at this point is to be expected.

Once inside the Murray and Church Starbucks, I knew for sure I hadn’t seen this location before. On one of the seating area walls is a long framed picture that represents Lower Manhattan (pictured above). I’ve seen a few similar pictures at Starbucks throughout the city, but this one was definitely unique.

This Starbucks is definitely a good size and is well equipped with seating. The restroom line was much longer than the coffee line, and I had no problem finding a seat at the communal table. Unfortunately, the WiFi was atrocious. At first I thought it was down, but after 10-minutes of playing around with it, my computer finally connected. Still… the connection was so slow I didn’t stay online for more than five minutes before giving up.

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NYC Starbucks: 42nd & 3rd

11 Nov

42nd and 3rd Starbucks

One of the inevitable pangs of living in New York is being stuck in a Starbucks restroom line with a homeless person inside. You can literally be waiting 15-20 minutes while someone bathes, changes clothes, shoots up drugs, talks to themselves… you name it. I feel I’ve been pretty fortunate in my journeys at having avoided this situation; however, today I was not so lucky. I knew I’d be waiting a while in line at the Starbucks on 42nd and 3rd when I heard the toilette flush every 20 or 30 seconds for two-minutes straight. Five minutes later, I was still waiting. Clearly, I wasn’t surprised when the homeless man staggered out. I simply held my nose and dived in after him.

Other than my restroom wait — which can happen at an Starbucks in the city — I found the 42nd & 3rd Starbucks to be welcoming enough. It has plenty of space. It’s well lit. And I caught the line in a lull and barely had to wait. Most of the seating was taken, but it’s not because the crowd was abnormally large. It just seems that there is not enough seating to fill this spacious Starbucks. 10-20 more seats could easily be strategically placed throughout. But then maybe they’d have to put in a second restroom.

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NYC Starbucks: 53rd & Madison

10 Nov

53rd and Madison Starbucks

I was not expecting to be impressed at all by the Starbucks on the corner of 53rd and Madison Avenue. It’s the Midtown reputation that’s to blame. But as I neared this store I spotted its two windows and felt a glimpse of hope.

This Starbucks has window displays similar to those you would find at Bloomingdales and Macy’s (pictured above). No, they’re not as elaborate, but they’re still pretty cool to look at. Hell, you can even sit in them if all the other seating is taken.¬†Also pictured above is the wall art that runs the length of the longest wall in the store. Randomly placed green coffee mugs and saucers are attached to the wood paneling. Underneath them are several padded benches made up of an off-white faux leather.

In all honesty, this Starbucks would have received a 5-Cup rating if it weren’t so small. The crowd was not too large, but confined in the narrow space it seemed way too cramped at times. Other than that, this Starbucks really is excellent. Cozy even.

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NYC Starbucks: 85th & Lexington

9 Nov

85th and Lexington Starbucks

So I’m playing a little bit of catch up for the month of November and just couldn’t help but knock out two Upper East Side Starbucks in the same day. After all, they are only three blocks away from each other and on the same avenue. All I had to do was walk three streets down on Lexington from the Starbucks on 87th street to the one on 85th.

Although these stores are so close, this Starbucks is technically outside the border of the Carnegie Hills sub-neighborhood that its sister store belongs to. What separates them is a train station and the crowded shopping area on 86th street.

The 85th street Starbucks is about half the size of its counterpart with a third of the crowd. It’s L-shaped with the barista bar near the entrance and some extra seating and the restroom located on the north side. I also spotted a large stack of Starbucks boxes with red stickers labeled “NO PEEKING.” This is probably the third time I’ve noticed these boxes at various locations across the city, and now I’m a little curious as to what exactly they are. My best guess is they are extra inventory during the holiday season, and the labels are just a clever way to keep them in the stores without them becoming an eye sore. Pure speculation, though.

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NYC Starbucks: 87th & Lexington

9 Nov

87th and Lexington Starbucks

It seems like every time I think I’ve got all the neighborhoods in Manhattan pegged, I discover a new neighborhood or sub-neighborhood. Today, I’m sitting at the Starbucks on 87th & Lexington in the Upper East Side. This particular area is in the southern portion of a smaller neighborhood named Carnegie Hill — which is ironically no where near Carnegie Hall.

The neighborhood runs from 86th street up through 96th and was named after a mansion that was built on 91st street which has now been converted into a museum owned by the Smithsonian. In fact, within this neighborhood is NYC’s Museum Mile on 5th Avenue. From 81st street through to 105th street exist ten distinct museums to visit including The Met and The Guggenheim. There’s even a museum dedicated to the history of New York City itself. And, although I’ve only visited The Met so far, I feel some of the others calling my name — especially since the temperature continues to drop.

As for the Starbucks itself — it’s fairly impressive. It’s large, contains multiple rooms with tons of seating, and is near some of the best transportation options in the Upper East Side. Something also worth noting is that dozens of adorable dogs passed by on the sidewalk outside during my visit. After all, were just west of Yorkville — home to the baby carriages and dog leashes.

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NYC Starbucks: 49th & 7th

8 Nov

49th and 7th Starbucks

Fall simply does not last long enough here in NYC. It’s only early November and already we’re in the 30s with the threat of snow next week. Obviously that’s the latent Floridian in me talking, but still… Brrr!

I’m currently concealed from the cold drinking my tall hot coffee at the Starbucks on 49th and 7th. Although, it’s technically north of Time Square, it’s still surrounded by the bright lights and hype of the area. The crowd is just as touristy here as it is on 42nd street, and the lines are no shorter. In fact, at the moment I can’t really make out the difference between those waiting to use the single restroom and those waiting for their drinks. They all stew in a still silence.

Also notable on this trip… there seems to be a group of pirates gathering in one corner of this Starbucks. It started with one. Then two. Now I’m sitting across from three fully dressed pirates. Perhaps they make money taking pictures under the bright lights, or maybe this is just a group of guys attending a very late Halloween party.

While I still hold the belief that no Starbucks in NYC is typical, I will admit that this one cannot help resemble every other Times Square Starbucks. It’s bursting with crowds. The baristas move slow simply because they’re consistently overwhelmed. The restroom line is a mess. And 50 percent of the people using the seating — if there is any — have made no purchase.

Still, if you like high energy environments, this very well could be the Starbucks for you!

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NYC Starbucks: 45th & Broadway NWC (Marriott Marquis)

6 Nov

45th and Broadway Starbucks Marriott Marquis

I know what you’re thinking. It’s already the sixth of November, and I’ve only visited two Starbucks so far. I’ve less than 60 days left in the year — time is running out — and here I am slacking. Well, maybe I’m the only one thinking that, but I promise my commitment to the cause is stronger than ever. I just happened to have some friends from Florida visiting for the Halloween weekend, and obviously they wanted to see more of NYC than the insides of various Starbucks.

To kick things back into gear, I decided a trip to a Time Square Starbucks would do the trick. And I’ve had my eye on the Starbucks within The Marriott Marquis lobby for quite some time. Before I describe the Starbucks, let me say how grand this hotel is. No — it’s not grand as in pretentiously opulent — it’s just impressive. The location. The glass elevators. The views from the hotel rooms. The accommodations. The crowds. Everything. It’s very high energy and things don’t really calm down in the lobby until after 4am — don’t ask me how I know that. I will also add that a friend once got their luggage stolen from the lobby when they were checking in. So be careful.

As for the Starbucks… It is located on the southeast side of the building. It has a street entrance on 45th street as well as a glass door leading into the Marriott’s lobby. There’s no seating inside nor is there a restroom dedicated to Starbucks. Fortunately, there is a standing bar that wraps around the glass paneled exterior. This way, visitors can stand in the warmth of the Starbucks while they gaze out the window at The Minskoff Theatre (home to The Lion King) and Junior’s (a giant NYC diner that attracts thousands of pre/post theatergoers). I recommend trying Junior’s grilled cheese!

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NYC Starbucks: 76th & Columbus

3 Nov

76th and Columbus Starbucks

Today was a very special day in New York. It was the first ING New York City Marathon since Hurricane Sandy and The Boston Marathon bombing. Last year, the controversial cancellation of the marathon left a lot of would-be-runners upset, and I remember seeing them run up and down the streets of Manhattan as a symbol of solidarity despite the marathon’s cancellation.

The race actually runs right near my apartment on 1st Avenue, and after we stood watching it for a while, we walked around the blockades, through Central Park and into the Upper West Side to enjoy a beautifully chilly day in the city. The race literally snakes around Manhattan, so several areas are blocked off. We watched as friends and family members searched to congratulate their loved ones in the race. And lucky for me, the Starbucks on 76th and Columbus was within a few blocks from where runners could reunite with family. In fact, as my boyfriend and I walked into the Starbucks I got the pleasure of witnessing a man embrace his female partner who had just finished the race. You could tell she was exhausted beyond belief as she nearly collapsed in his arms as he tried to wrap his jacket around her.

So obviously because of the marathon this Starbucks was as crowded as a nightclub this afternoon. Literally, I you had to shuffle through line inch-by-inch and the option of sitting was simply out of the question. However, I have been to this Starbucks in the past, and I can say that I had no trouble finding a seat and the crowd was totally manageable. But it’s not everyday that 47 thousand marathoners take the streets of NYC.

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Reflection: October

1 Nov

October Starbucks

 

October was an exciting month for me. Not only did I get to visit more Starbucks this month than any before — a whopping 25! — but I also was able to visit 22 of those within the first 20 days of the month. Is my newfound blogging rapidity all because the year is coming to a close? No I wouldn’t say that’s entirely the reason. Yes — I’m well aware that I’ve only 60 days left to visit the remaining Starbucks in Manhattan. But also, I’m growing more and more excited to hunt down the remaining thirty-some-odd Starbucks I’ve yet to see. Each one brings a new element of surprise and brings me that much closer to completing my goal.

Another reason this month was exciting is because of Starbucks began to actively engage in a political debate over the government shutdown. While normally I avoid politics like I would a sniffling colleague, Starbucks involvement truly intrigued me. In fact, its presence was so pervasive in my blog that I was interviewed and then quoted in an NBC news article on the Starbucks petition to end the shutdown. Clearly I’m no political pundit, but it felt great to be included in a news story that was so familiar and prevalent in my life.

As for the quality of these 25 Starbucks, only one received a 5-Cup rating; seven were 4-Cup; nine were 3-Cup; five were 2-Cup; and three were 1-Cup stores. Which means that I visited just as many good Starbucks as I did bad ones. My favorite was a towering two-story location on 88th & Broadway in the Upper West Side, while my least favorite were — not surprisingly — in Midtown and the Financial District.

Another fact I found out this month that’s worth mentioning is there are some Starbucks here in Manhattan that are only accessible to a select group of people. A great example of that is the Starbucks at the New York Stock Exchange. Without security clearance to enter 11 Wall Street, you cannot visit the Starbucks within. And I discovered a few Midtown locations that have the same policy. This is something I probably should have guessed at earlier — I mean it is logical — but I just assumed that any Starbucks in NYC was open to the public. Clearly, that’s not the case. Now I find myself asking exactly how will I get to see that handful of unique limited-access Starbucks, or will I end the year regretting those few locations that got slipped through the cracks?

There are only two months left in the year of 2013. I’ve visited 170 Starbucks so far. And my appetite for Starbucks is still just as strong as when I started.

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