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NYC Starbucks: 31st & 7th

31 Dec

31st and 7th Starbucks

Today is the day. The Starbucks on 31st and 7th Avenue is the last Starbucks I’ve yet to visit in Manhattan. This is the 20th Starbucks I’ve rated in the month of December and the 208th I’ve rated in 2013. Whoa. It’s been quite a ride. But I’ll reflect more on that tomorrow. For now I still need to spill the T on this Midtown Starbucks.

Surprisingly, there’s not much dirt to dish. This is one of the few impressive Starbucks in the heart of Midtown, Manhattan. This Starbucks is neither cramped, narrow nor closet-like. It actually has a large downstairs lobby and plenty of additional seating in its upstairs seating loft. Besides the typical coffee pictures on the walls, there is plenty of unique decor such a mural of gears and NYC public transportation near the front entrance. There’s even giant coffee bags resting atop the shelves of Starbucks merchandise. One of the baristas informed me the Starbucks was remodeled just a few years ago, so I have to assume that is when all this nifty decor arrived.

On the negative side, this Starbucks does attract a pretty hefty crowd. I had a momentary wait before I could sit upstairs and some have come and left without finding a seat at all. Also, the once available upstairs power outlets have been covered up and the WiFi is a tad on the slow side. So if you’re coming to do some work on your laptop, you may want to bring a full battery and some patience — or possibly a screwdriver. The lighting is also slightly on the dim side, but I think that’s part of the design theme.

So there you have it. That’s the Starbucks on 31st and 7th in a nutshell. See more details below, and check back tomorrow for my final reflection on Starbucks, blogging and this great city called New York.

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NYC Starbucks: 34th & Broadway (Macy’s Balcony)

1 Dec

34th and Broadway Starbucks Macy's Balcony

The balcony Starbucks at Macy’s Herald Square is definitely impressive. It actually got renovated this year and was closed for several months. But obviously Macy’s and Starbucks made sure it was all shiny and new before the holiday season.

The balcony floor is also know as floor one and a half, and it overlooks most of the women’s perfume and jewelry department, which is by far the busiest section of Macy’s all year round. Luckily, the renovation seems to have added more seating and more style to this Starbucks. Now there are cushioned seats, mini tables, and dividing wall units that do a descent job at separating the Starbucks lounge from the crazy crowds.

And yes — the crowd is crazy. I’ve waited in line at this Starbucks for over 15-minutes in the past. But fortunately today I caught it at a good time and waited only 2-3.

I thought this location was the only one in New York to offer what Starbucks calls their “Evening Menu” that includes champagne; however, the barista informed me this is not the case. He said there was another Starbucks on the 2nd floor of Macy’s that is known as the Herald Square Cafe, and I could get champagne and wine up there.

Here, I thought there were only four Starbucks in the Macy’s Herald Square, but technically there are five. So clearly my exploration of Macy’s is not over just yet.

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NYC Starbucks: 43rd & 3rd

16 Nov

43rd and 3rd Starbucks

Yesterday I visited a small and cramped Starbucks in a neighborhood full of spacious apartments, and today I’m at a considerably sized Starbucks in a neighborhood of unbelievably small apartments. What a conundrum! I guess that just goes to show you can’t depend on the neighborhood stereotypes for everything.

The Starbucks on 43rd and 3rd really did surprise me with its grand size and moderate crowd. From what I’ve discovered, the handful of big Midtown Starbucks are strategically placed to impress travels and tourists — Times Square, Herald Square, etc… But this Starbucks is just hidden enough for the patrons to be residential and still be located near Grand Central Terminal.

If I lived in the neighborhood this would definitely be my “Go-To Starbucks.” In fact, anyone living in Midtown will probably have more office space here than in their own apartments.

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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: 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: Roosevelt Island

20 Oct

Roosevelt Island Starbucks

Roosevelt Island is a small narrow island between Manhattan and Queens. It’s about 2 miles long and no more than 800 feet wide at any point. Although completely separated by water, it belongs to the borough of Manhattan. There’s no more than 20,000 people living on this island, and there is exactly one Starbucks servicing them all.

Here’s some other fun facts about Roosevelt Island:

  • In the 1800s the city of New York bought the island and used it to keep prisoners and the mentally ill.
  • The easiest way onto the island from Manhattan is using the Roosevelt Island Tram from 60th street and 2nd Avenue. It’ll cost you $2.50 each way.
  • If you’ve ever seen the first Spider-Man movie with Tobey Maguire, you may remember seeing Spider-Man rescue dozens of people from the dangling from the tram.
  • Until 1989 the tram was the only way to access Roosevelt Island from Manhattan. Then the F-train came along.
  • The only way to get a car or truck onto the island is from Queens using the Roosevelt Island Bridge.
  • If you’ve ever seen the first Spider-Man movie with Tobey Maguire, you may remember seeing Spider-Man rescue dozens of people from the dangling from the Roosevelt Island Tram.

Okay — enough about the island, I know you’re dying to hear about its only Starbucks.

The best way I can describe this Starbucks is that it in no way resembles your typical NYC Starbucks. If anything, it reminds me of some of my favorite Florida Starbucks. Meaning, there is just as much outdoor seating as there is indoors. In fact, you would probably prefer to sit outside — there’s quite the view. The Starbucks is surrounded by shrubs and green grass, and unless you look across to Manhattan you almost forget where you are. At least until you notice that this Starbucks has only one unisex restroom — and then it all comes back to you.

So if you’re a New Yorker living on Roosevelt Island, congrats! You’ve got yourself a great Starbucks. And if you’re a New Yorker who has yet to visit the island, I’d recommend you make the trip. Take the tram. See the views. Grab a coffee.

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NYC Starbucks: 93rd & Broadway

18 Oct

93rd and Broadway Starbucks

What can I say? When I see the opportunity to hit up two Starbucks in one day,  I just can’t help myself. Besides, the Starbucks on 93rd & Broadway is mere yards from the Starbucks on 95th street. And I’m rarely on the Upper West Side so I figured two birds, one stone. Or should I say: two blogs, one day.

After visiting both of these UWS Starbucks, here’s my concluding advice: If you find yourself in the area, definitely visit the Starbucks on 93rd & Broadway over the one on 95th. Not only is it bigger, but it offers much more seating. It actually has two large seating areas and still is much less cramped than its sister store to the north. The seating is also more personal — tables-for-two instead of communal seating.

But the lines at both stores are equally sized. So I guess what I should say is that if you’re looking for a cup of Joe on the go, pick your poison. But if you’re looking to stay awhile, this Starbucks is your best bet.

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NYC Starbucks: 52nd & Lexington

17 Oct

52nd and Lexington Starbucks

The Starbucks on 52nd & Lexington is located on a small section of 52nd street that has been dubbed Lew Rudin Way. The apples on the street sign made me think he must have been some great educator here in NYC, but as it turns out he was a great landlord instead. Alongside his brother, he headed one of NYC’s oldest real estate dynasties and was a strong civic booster. Doesn’t sound like your typical landlord, right? He died of cancer just after 9/11, and this portion of 52nd street was renamed in his honor in 2002.

The Starbucks on the corner of Lew Rudin Way is impressive for a Midtown location. It even has three outdoor tables right there on the sidewalk. Obviously, this is an added perk that most NYC Starbucks cannot afford; however, the fact that the tables have no barrier what-so-ever from the street crowd is a little unnerving. Plus the WiFi is really shoddy out there.

But never fear, there’s still plenty of seating inside.

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NYC Starbucks: 96th & Lexington

13 Oct

96th and Lexington Starbucks

I’m on fire.

No not literally. I’ve just been on a roll with this blog lately. Not only have I visited at least 1 Starbucks every day in October, but this will be my second for the day. Half of the reason for this increase in blogging is due to my awareness of the year’s impending demise. The other half is simply an increase in dedication to the cause. As the year slips away and the amount of undiscovered Starbucks grows smaller and smaller, I’m feeling this heightened curiosity toward each untouched Starbucks. After visiting over 150 locations in New York, have I still not discovered the very best one? Or the very worst one? And maybe there’s a small neighborhood I’ve yet to traipse through that will draw me in the way so many of the others have. And it’s this curiosity that’s making it easier and easier to convince myself to make time to blog each day.

Specifically, this Starbucks on 96th & Lexington intrigued me because of its close proximity with the Starbucks I wrote about earlier today. Both are on the border of Harlem and the Upper East Side. However, the Starbucks on 96th & Madison is on the south side (Upper East Side), while this one is on the north side (Harlem). Specifically this one belongs to the neighborhood known as Spanish Harlem — or SpaHa. So I wanted to know if there was a detectible distinction between these two close Starbucks in two very different neighborhoods.

The short answer: a little.

The Madison Starbucks was small, crowded, and filled with a crowd of tourists and keep-to-yourself patrons. This Starbucks is large, still crowded, and filled with a much more social crowd. A father sits talking with his son. Three teenagers sit at the communal table and angst all over each other. And a couple just walked out after sharing what I’m assuming was a latte — I’m guessing Pumpkin Spice.

Other features of this Starbucks include plenty of seating, jazz music and an authentic exposed-brick wall. It’s crowded even late at night, and the crowd doesn’t seem to be waning at all. Also, the locals have clearly pegged this Starbucks as a convenient bathroom stop to and from the 6-train.

So in conclusion, although this Starbucks is just on the other side of 96th street, it does indeed have more Harlem characteristics than the Madison location of the Upper East Side.

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NYC Starbucks: Front & Wall

12 Oct

Front and Wall Starbucks

It’s finally here. I’m officially typing this blog using Google Wifi at the new Starbucks on Front & Wall Street. At first I thought this Starbucks was having WiFi issues, then I kept searching for available networks until ‘Google Starbucks’ showed up. I connected with ease and began testing the bandwidth to see how it compared to the old AT&T WiFi. So far, I’m impressed.

According to one of the baristas, this Starbucks has only been open for about a month. It still has that new store glow. And I have a feeling this Starbucks is just reopening after suffereing damage from Hurricane Sandy. I can literally see the water of the East River from outside this Starbucks door, and I can easily imagine the flood waters putting this location out of service for quite some time.

But maybe some downtime did this Starbucks well. Now it’s back, and I’m assuming it’s never looked better. The lighting and decor is crisp. There’s silver and grey accents all around, and when combined with the metal tables and wooden floorboards it creates an interesting and modern aesthetic. It has plenty of seating and still provides enough room to keep the place from feeling cramped.

This new Starbucks certainly isn’t helping me finish this blog by the year’s end, but it is a beautiful addition to the NYC Starbucks family.

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