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NYC Starbucks: 111th & Broadway

15 Sep

111th and Broadway Starbucks

Today is my first day exploring the neighborhood — and Starbucks — of Morningside Heights, Manhattan.

Apparently there is debate as to which larger neighborhood Morningside Heights belongs to — either the Upper West Side or Harlem. Characteristically, I see more UWS here than Harlem — lots of strollers and dogs on lead. This neighborhood is also nicknamed Academic Acropolis, due to the fact that several university campuses  call it home, including Columbia of the Ivy League.

Before examining the Starbucks on 111th and Broadway, I even took some time to walk the long and narrow Riverside Park, which is perfect for joggers and families alike. There’s also tons and tons of benches in case you want to take a book and a sandwich and have one of those typical park bench moments.

The Starbucks itself is large and in charge. Sure, it’s crowded and filled with studying students, but there’s plenty of seats to go ’round. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the WiFi bandwidth. Certainly no video streaming here. There’s also no oven (random?). So, no breakfast sandwiches or toasted bagels. Sorry guys!

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NYC Starbucks: 86th & Columbus

16 Aug

86th and Columbus Starbucks

Life has a natural symmetry… a way of balancing things out. Yesterday, I visited one of the worst Starbucks in Manhattan and today I’m sitting at what is arguably one of the best.

The Upper West Side Starbucks on the corner of 86th & Columbus is roughly the size of three regular NYC Starbucks. I actually passed by the entrance on my way to grab lunch and as I kept walking I noticed that I was still passing by windows that belonged to the Starbucks. It just goes on and on.

The neighborhood surrounding this Starbucks consists of nice restaurants with outdoor seating, coffee shops (other than Starbucks, that is), a few delis and, of course, Central Park to the east.

Inside, the Starbucks has two seating areas equipped with sofas, comfy chairs, tables-for-two and a few larger tables as well. The decor is nice; including a curving mural wall, hanging mirrors, pictures and even some white pillars on display in the window. The lighting is a little dim but not too bad. But, what I think is most impressive about this Starbucks is the lack of a crowd. I’ve been here for quite some time, and there has always been a few seats available — comfy seats at that! There’s even open outlets.

I could go on and on about how much I like this Starbucks. But I’d rather spend a little more time enjoying it instead of writing about it.

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NYC Starbucks: 59th & 9th

6 Aug

59th and 9th Starbucks

So far the month of August has truly been a beautiful month here in New York City. The temperature has dropped just enough for midday walks through the city to be bearable , and I no longer break into a perfusive sweat after riding a Citi Bike. Luckily, I have been avoiding the subway as much as possible because I’m sure the underground tunnels are still as scorching as ever.

Today I actually walked directly across the island from 1st avenue, through Central Park, and into the Starbucks on 59th and 9th Avenue. This Starbucks is actually on the corner where 9th Ave becomes Columbus Ave and Hell’s Kitchen turns into the Upper West Side. But if I were to peg this location based on its environment, I’d say it feels much more like an UWS Starbucks. It is a few short blocks south of Lincoln Center and directly underneath Fordham University — a private, Jesuit college here in NYC.

It’s a fairly large and decently crowded Starbucks. It has plenty of seats for patrons (although no padded chairs) and lots of power outlets for those wanting to stay awhile. The walls are painted an olive green color and accented with natural wood pillars that help break up the inside and give it the impression of being even bigger than it actually is. A lot of people seem to come here to read or write, and I can see why; the large paneled windows, surrounding brownstone buildings and overlooking trees on Columbus Ave make this Starbucks’ environment a little more serene than most in the city.

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NYC Starbucks: 63rd & Broadway

30 May

63rd and Broadway

I used to live at 63rd street on the Upper West Side when I first arrived in NYC, yet I never came across this Starbucks before this week. Just a block away from Lincoln Center (and all the theatrics that come with it), this Starbucks is definitely in a prime location. It’s also only two blocks away from Central Park and just north of Columbus Circle.

Location – of course – isn’t everything. This Starbucks happens to have a very accommodating interior as well, with a long, expansive lounge and multiple arrangements of seating. You can grab a seat at the window, sit at the cushioned bench bordering one wall, plant yourself at the communal table in the center of the store, or even find a spot in a little seating nook that is pushed off to one side of the building.

Today – however – I chose to make Central Park my ultimate destination. And can you blame me? Temperatures soared to 90s this afternoon – so far the year’s high. Also, I had the advantage of having this weekday off while most are cooped up in offices under florescent lighting. Because of this, Sheep’s Meadow (the largest and greenest area in the park) was barely occupied. So I was spared the hundreds of frolicking children and fellow sun-bathers. It was just me, the sun, and an iced coffee.

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NYC Starbucks: 73rd & Columbus

12 May

Starbucks on 73rd and Columbus

If the neighborhoods of Manhattan were competing in a beauty pageant, I feel the Upper West Side would take it by a landslide. Not only does it border Central Park, but it has some of the prettiest buildings and unique architecture (take note of some of the street art and statuary I captured above). It’s less congested, and you can take your time to walk slowly and window shop without becoming a barrier to the go-getters of NYC.

As a gay man, I often tend to look at the city through a rainbow colored lens. The “gay scene” in Manhattan has been on a steady migration ever since the days of Stonewall (1969). Over the past 40 some odd years, the gays have been slowly working their way up the west side of the island. From the West Village to Chelsea to Hell’s Kitchen. You can see the remnants of this slow migration in slug-like trail of stereotypes: The Village houses the “old gays” while Chelsea is for the “muscle daddies” and HK is for “the youngins.”

Always being a forward thinking person, this train of thought has driven me to the conclusion that the Upper West Side will be the next big gay neighborhood within the next 20 years. The proof is in the past and present. As Chelsea bars begin to close and reemerge in HK, the same thing is bound to happen as rent in HK continue to rise. Also since the city was built up — with the northern neighborhoods being newer than the south — there is more room to spread out here.

Building on this stereotype even further, this inevitable migration of gay men with their expendable incomes will certainly lead to more Upper West Side Starbucks. I really hope you can read the jest in my voice here, people!

This Starbucks on 73rd & Columbus is a good example of why I have not grown bored of visiting Starbucks after Starbucks here in Manhattan. Every now and then I stumble upon one that is distinctive enough to keep me pushing forward on my coffee-colored journey.

This location is small but brewing with charm. It’s angled, glass-paneled walls and dark espresso decor attracted me immediately. Then I saw the little seating area separated by a mirrored half-wall and the adorableness factor of this location increased considerably. I believe this to be the first open mirror I’ve seen at any Starbucks so far. Although the restroom line runs long, I still recommend this as a homey and brightly lit Starbucks to spend some time in while on the Upper West Side.

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NYC Starbucks: 81st & Broadway

11 Apr

81standbroadway

Before going into details on the Starbucks on 81st & Broadway, it’s worth mentioning that my last post, 47th & 8th, was my 50th Starbucks visited for the blog. Meaning, I’m nearly a quarter of the way done! And yes, in case you were wondering, I now think in shades of forest green and sweat coffee when I perspire.

Speaking of sweating — I ventured up to the Upper West Side this afternoon to attend a 90-minute hot yoga class. So if I don’t post for the rest of the week, it’s because  I melted. But before I get in touch with my inner yogi, I figured a trip to Starbucks would but me in the right zen-mentality.

Unfortunately this Starbucks is both crowded and dirty. I literally just watched as the girl studying next to me had to unstick her binder from the debris covered table. Gross! Now, I’m aware this is New York, and often times it’s the repugnant smells that let us know we’re still breathing, but I still like my Starbucks to be somewhat well kept.

Other than the cleanliness issue, the Starbucks shapes up fine. It’s in a good area that features a lot of shopping and dining options, and the baristas were really friendly. It can also seat a good amount of people with small tables, a long group table, and window seating as well.

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NYC Starbucks: 67th & Columbus

17 Mar

67thandcolumbus

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all my coffee lovers out there. And a shout out to all you hard working baristas who just happen to rock the color green each and every day.

Although I have a strong Irish last name — McCourt — my identification with the culture stops at potato pancakes and the occasional Guinness. Regardless, today in NYC everybody is a little Irish. The Starbucks I’m currently sitting at on 67th & Columbus Avenue is greener than Kermit the Frog with a stomach flu.

Just a few blocks north of Columbus Circle and Lincoln Center, this location is immediately impressive because of it’s large size. In fact, everything at this location is bigger. From the barista bar to the seating area, everything seems to have been stretched. Even the hallway to the bathroom is much longer than most. There are two entrances (one on the street/one on the avenue) and tons of seating for anyone to enjoy.

Unfortunately, this Upper West Side Starbucks is clearly the target of many, because those seats are all filled up. In fact, I can see at least three separate individuals prowling for an open spot at this very moment. Luckily, no matter how crowded a location may be, I have a tendency to find an open seat within minutes.

Maybe it’s the city of New York opening the door for this blog to continue — and so it does.

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NYC Starbucks: 81st & Columbus

10 Feb

81standcolumbus

This weekend I received a birthday present from New York City in the form of a blizzard.

The word blizzard may not be a friendly term to most, but as a recovering-Floridian, this weekend was a unique and enjoyable experience. The city slowed, and the people took a moment to chill — literally. Central Park is currently a winter wonderland of snow covered trees, sledding children, and lovers walking hands entwined.

My explorations in Central Park led me to the Upper West Side and the Starbucks on the corner of 81st & Columbus. One of Manhattan’s most affluent neighborhoods, the UWS is juxtaposed by its equivalent across the park — the Upper East Side. Both residential neighborhoods — the UWS is considered to house the artistic and cultural, while the UES  is home to the commercial and business crowd. One of the most notable features that I’ve seen in this neighborhood is the contrasting colors of the residential facades. They go from white, to red, to green, and back again in a close proximity that really highlights the gorgeous architecture of each.

This particular Starbucks reflects the Upper West Side affluence quite well. Filled with comfy chairs and evenly spaced seating, this location attempts to defy the cramped NYC culture, and spaced evenly between the 1-Train and Central Park  its in a prime location. The maple wood decor is also a pleasant contrast from most dark-espresso locations in the city. But don’t just take my word for it, come see it yourself.

Believe it or not — personal space is actually possible here!

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NYC Starbucks: 60th & Broadway

22 Jan

60thandbroadway

The Starbucks at Columbus Circle and I have a little bit of history. In fact, you could say it was the early inspiration for this blog.

After graduating from the University of Central Florida in early December of 2011, I decided to reward myself by spending a 5-day streak in NYC with two of my best friends. At some point we ended up at Columbus Circle shortly after midnight lost and searching for a bar that seemed to be evading us. So, we dived into the Starbucks on 60th and Broadway to escape the cold, refuel, and recalculate. Already a regular Starbucks devotee, I had developed a set expectation of what I would find in each location, and the NYC Starbucks locations were dispelling it left and right. At this particular location, after waiting an excruciating amount of time for two lattes, my friend and I started talking about how the NYC Starbucks compared to the locations in Florida.

Just over a year later, I sit here in the same city that I can now call my home — at the same Starbucks that set things in motion.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Columbus Circle area, just know this — it’s busy and beautiful. At the south-west corner of Central Park, the circle has become an iconic landmark — fully equipped with picturesque statuary and shops to keep you busy. It is also a large transportation hub for both buses and subway lines.

So how does all this reflect on the Starbucks on the corner of the circle? — Not well, unfortunately.

Unlike the Starbucks on 34th and 5th that was well equipped to handle the masses, this Starbucks seems to buckle under the pressure. As I walked in this evening, I was greeted by a sea of people waiting around — either waiting to order, waiting to sit, waiting on their drinks, or waiting for the bathroom. Everyone seemed to be placed in a public purgatory — neither coming nor going. The baristas did not seem to move with any sense of urgency brought on by the waiting crowds, and the drinks seemed to be simply tossed onto the bar for the masses to figure out — causing unnecessary confusion. The man directly behind me in line actually commented outloud: “This Starbucks is the worst one.”

Well — I can’t say it’s the worst. After all, I still have 189 to go! But it’s definitely not one you’ll get in-and-out of quickly nor is it suitable for an easy sit-down. Maybe it’s the Starbucks sent to teach New Yorkers patience?

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