As of right now, I can officially say that I have observed the major universities in New York City through the lens of the Starbucks that serve them.
Way back in March I visited the Starbucks that serves New York University — where I’m currently attending grad school. Last month I made it all the up to Columbia University and down south to Pace University. And just today I paid a visit to the Starbucks inside of the Fashion Institute of Technology — aka FIT.
Like with NYU and Pace, this is a licensed store that is owned by a company other than Starbucks. In this case, it’s owned by Aramark — which seems to be the number one food supplier to college campuses. Even the Florida State University Starbucks was Aramark. But unlike NYU’s Aramark Starbucks, this one resembles Pace more in the fact that you really must be a student to gain access. In other words, both the FIT and Pace Starbucks are located inside the university cafeterias which are both within campus security. Obviously, this isn’t TSA or anything, but they may give you a hard time if you try to get into the campus simply to get a coffee.
Luckily I’m persuasive.
A big difference between this Starbucks and the one at Pace is that this store actually has its own distinctive walls and bar stools. It even offers several power outlets for students to plug in, work, and pretend they aren’t in a college cafeteria.
When all is said and done — of all the NYC university Starbucks — my favorite must be NYU’s. Am I biased? Maybe. But it also is the largest, the biggest, and is open to the public.
This weekend I did something I can’t say I’ve done in over a year: I spent an entire weekend without any Starbucks. This was not by choice but an inadvertent reality I had to face when visiting Provincetown, MA. Luckily, what this small town on the tip of Cape Cod lacks in Starbucks, it makes up with culture, beaches, bars and quirky shops to visit. This was my first time in Ptown, and I must say, I’m a huge fan. In a way, it’s the anti-New York, and I even enjoyed sampling the local cafes.
However, after a long weekend away from NYC, sometimes it feels good to return to the fast paced streets and active lifestyle of a New Yorker. At least there’s Starbuck here.
Today, I’m spending some time in a Starbucks on the corner of 27th and 6th Ave. This area is on the border of both Chelsea and NoMad, yet it hardly resembles either neighborhood. This strip of 6th Ave is inundated with quick service lunch restaurants to service the nearby business crowds of the Flatiron district.
The Starbucks itself is designed well, but tiny. It’s placed directly on the corner and constructed like the cutout of a circle. There’s no restroom, and — even worse — no seating. Yes, there are plenty of Starbucks in either direction on 6th Ave, but I still see no reason why 8-10 stools can’t be placed facing the window-bar.
I like my coffee with cream, splenda and hold the discrimination.
Currently there is a group of 12 deaf individuals that are suing Starbucks based on the actions of some baristas here in NYC. I’ve read several articles on the topic (like this one from Huffington Post), and I wish I could say I don’t believe the allegations to be true, but honestly I do.
As someone who’s visited over 100 Starbucks in Manhattan this year alone, I’ve witnessed lots of things. Mostly it’s inappropriate patrons, but at times the baristas can be a little less than pleasant. I can’t say I’ve ever witnessed any form of discrimination, though — mostly just burnt out employees that are probably in need of a 15 minute break. But what this group of patrons is accusing those baristas of is something else. It’ll be interesting to see where this case goes.
Ok. That’s enough of that. Let’s talk about the Starbucks on 28th & 7th. This Starbucks is in Chelsea directly across from the Fashion Institute of Technology. So far I’ve witnessed no one discriminating against anyone, despite the fact that this Starbucks is crowded with patrons. But I am keeping an eye out.
This Starbucks is a split level, with an elevated seating area connected by a staircase in the front of the store. There are two seating areas (one up, one down), plenty of scattered power outlets, and one restroom. The lighting is dim and the construction outside doesn’t allow much sun to seep through the windows. Luckily this Starbucks affords enough space for the giant crowd it attracts to spread out once they get their order. One helluva line though.
Today my journey brought me to the Starbucks on 33rd and 10th avenue.
I love Hells Kitchen and adore Chelsea, but there is this 10-15 block cross-section between the two neighborhoods that I’ve concluded is one of the ugliest neighborhoods in Manhattan. It’s picked up the name Hellsea, and I couldn’t agree more. Not only is it covered in construction and jammed with traffic most hours of the day, but there is ultimately no real reason for one to venture into this part of the city unless your fleeing by way of the Lincoln Tunnel. It doesn’t look residential and the few restaurants I passed by failed to stand out.
This Starbucks is actually located in the lobby of the Associated Press’s headquarters. While most lobby-oriented Starbucks are squashed and unimpressive, this one is actually a decent looking cafe. It has glass panels separating it from the entrance to the AP, and could just as easily be a solo-location.
I arrived just in time to catch the 5pm mass-exodus from the offices of the AP. Although several caffeine deprived reporters dived in for a quick pick-me-up, the line never grew too long and most left, leaving the seats vacant. If I worked for the AP I fear half my salary would be drained at this Starbucks.
Starbucks is having another Frapuccino Happy Hour from May 3rd-12th. This basically gives anyone with a midday sweet tooth the benefit of enjoying any of their blended frapps for 1/2 from 3pm to 5pm. They started doing these a few years ago, and have periodically brought them back because — obviously — we just can’t get enough.
While I never drink their frappuccinos on a day-to-day basis, I always get at least one whenever a happy hour rolls around. SO despite the fact that swimsuit season is right around the corner, here I am sipping down a Java Chip Frapp. I may tell myself that this is for blogging purposes solely or that I’m being fiscally responsible, but honestly this is just an excuse to enjoy an old guilt pleasure. Never tried a frapp? You have until May 12th to sample one for 1/2 off.
While I thoroughly enjoyed my frappuccino, the Starbucks on 23rd and 8th was a little less impressive. A smaller than average location, this Starbucks’ only uniqueness factor is a wall morale across from the barista bar. Other than that, we have ourselves a few small tables and the typical unisex restroom. Usually most Starbucks above a train station are “strictly business” but this one seems to be more bland than most.
The Starbucks on 14th & 6th straddles the West Village to the south and Chelsea to the northeast. Although these are two of my favorite neighborhoods in the city, neither this block nor this location takes on any of their admirable characteristics.
This isn’t a “bad” location by any means — it’s just crowded and condensed. Besides the fact that 14th street brings a lot of pedestrian traffic, it’s also right off of the F/M trains. Fortunately, this location is just a 10 minute walk from several great attractions, including: the Chelsea Market, Union Square, Washington Square Park, and the Meatpacking District.
One notable characteristic is that the restroom is slightly hidden. There’s no signage for it, and it’s behind a door with a keypad-handle. It opens right up to reveal a small hallway with the typical gender-neutral restroom at the other end. Unless you’re curious-by-nature or inquisitive, you may miss it entirely.
Today I decided to try out Starbucks’ Clover machine on an iced coffee. In case you haven’t heard of the Clover, it’s this coffee pressing contraption that is only available at select Starbucks locations. Like a traditional coffee press, it uses heat and pressure to extract the rich flavor from roasted coffee grounds. You can request to get most coffee based drinks with the Clover, and it really enhances the taste of the bean.
My iced coffee was made with the Starbucks Kenya roast, and I have to say it beats the hell out of a regular iced coffee from Starbucks. I usually drink my grande iced coffee with 2 Splenda,but only needed one for this guy. If you haven’t tried the Clover, I highly recommend it. You can use your Starbucks app to figure out which stores offer it and which don’t.
The Starbucks on Greenwich & 8th Avenue is just as impressive as the Clover. As far as design is concerned, it’s one of the best in the city. The exterior is nothing but glass panels that round out the street corner instead of creating a sharp angle. The interior has a dark wood theme throughout and large concrete columns with wooden shelves and seating arrangements built into them. Although it’s not the biggest location, and outlet availability could be better, this Starbucks makes up for it with style alone.
This Chelsea Starbucks on 19th and 8th is great for a hit and run. Which works out because I’m having one of those NYC Days where I have 25 obligations crammed into 24 hours.
So let me give you the skinny…
It’s in Chelsea. It’s an L-Shaped layout directly on the corner. It plays seductive elevator music. It’s in Chelsea. It’s smaller than most. It has a long raised table lining one side and a slightly elevated seating area in the base of the L. It’s in Chelsea. The barista’s a super friendly and chatty with both each other and the patrons. It has great lighting. It’s crowded but not overcrowded. Did I mention it’s in Chelsea?
Well — that’s it for now folks! Gotta run (it’s a New York thing)!
It is another beautiful day out in New York City. So I decided to pay a visit to the neighborhood that has become my favorite area to go shopping, have lunch, or just simply walk around. You guessed it — welcome back to Chelsea.
The Starbucks on 16th Street and 8th Avenue was designed with NASCAR fans in mind. It functions like a racetrack, and is the perfect pit stop on your way to and fro. You walk in and steer to the left wear you order at the barista bar. Progress forward and pick up your drink at the end of the row. Need to use the restroom? Merge right. If not, then make a U-turn and face the creamer station. From there your back where you started and a few steps from the door.
The good thing about Starbucks such as these is that they are perfect for grabbing a quick cup on the go. The downside is that they don’t make the best sitting locations. Yes — there are stools lining walls here, but they’re condensed and highly populated. Since this one is directly on top of a subway terminal, it is clear who Starbucks was catering to when they opened this location.
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.