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.
The Starbucks on 99th and Broadway is the most recent addition to the Upper West Side and possibly Manhattan altogether. I only discovered this location last week and after paying it a quick visit I found it the Starbucks is only a few weeks young. And now I’m back to stay awhile and soak it in before the year is up and over.
Speaking of soaking… it’s presently pouring here in New York. Luckily, I was able to dive into this Starbucks just before it really started coming down. And I’m not the only one seeking shelter and a warm beverage until the rain lets up. Although I wouldn’t say this Starbucks is all too crowded, it is relatively small and fills up kind of fast. There’s just three barstools and one communal table to share with no public restroom — which is probably why the crowd doesn’t linger all too long. Thankfully, this location was beautifully designed with all of Starbucks latest and greatest decor such as in-wall refrigeration units and wood paneling throughout. So even if your visit is a short one, it can still be a pleasant one.
In this marvelous city of 212 Starbucks, there is one thing that surprised me more than most: there are some Starbucks in NYC that are not open to the public. Some are easier to access than others, such as the ones within universities like FIT and Pace. But there are others within private businesses and office buildings that I simply could not pay a visit to. Four, to be exact:
- The Starbucks inside the Limited Brands building at 1740 Broadway
- The Starbucks inside the Burlington House building at 1345 Sixth Avenue
- The Starbucks inside the JP Morgan Chase building at 270 Park Avenue
- The Starbucks within the New York Stock Exchange at 11 Wall Street
Each of these buildings have posted security on site during operating hours and entrance is not permitted without a pass to the building or an invitation from one of the businesses within — trust me, I tried. I think it’s fair to say I confused several doormen when declaring the only reason I wanted access to their building was to see the Starbucks inside. No doubt they thought I was crazy, but I wanted to be thorough. I especially wanted to see the Starbucks within the New York Stock Exchange, since it’s such an important part of this country’s economy. I even wrote to the owners of the building, but no luck.
Part of me was — and still is — a little disappointed that there are four Starbucks in this city that I cannot easily pay a visit to. But I’ve sat on this for a while, and come to the conclusion that missing these four locations may be for the best. After all, only those who work there can access them. So even if they are wonderful and spacious, neither me nor anyone else could easily pay them a second visit. I guess it just goes to show you that in a city that thrives on caffeine, a coffee house like Starbucks can easily survive without opening its doors to the public at large.
With four days to spare, this leaves just three Starbucks left for me to visit in Manhattan. Although I’m terribly excited to finish this adventure, part of me is also wondering: where did the year go?
I thought long and hard on which New York City Starbucks I would visit on Christmas Day. In the end, I decided no Starbucks is more fitting than the one in Harlem on the corner of 125th & Lenox Ave — aka Malcolm X Blvd.
This Starbucks is unlike any others in Manhattan. This is one of the five Starbucks Community Stores that exist worldwide. This means a portion of this store’s profits gets sent directly to a non-profit organization within the community that focuses on improving it. This particular Starbucks partners with an organization called the Abyssinian Development Corporation. A plaque inside the Starbucks explains the relationship:
“Welcome to Your Starbucks
We can only succeed as a store when we succeed as a community. We are together in this — and so we are proud to share the profits of this Starbucks store directly with Abyssinian Development Corporation to support its work with the children and families of Harlem. To achieve its mission, Abyssinian Development Corporation provides economic revitalization, housing, social services, eduction and civic engagement in Harlem and beyond.
A new store model and a new way to support our community.”
Now, I’m not a corporate social responsibility expert, but I think that’s pretty darn amazing. Not only is it doing good, but it’s doing good at a local level. The more the neighborhood drinks Starbucks, the more it benefits. It’s kind of genius. And very much a representation of what the holiday season and Christmas is supposed to be all about.
This time last week, it was snowing in New York City. Today it’s 70 degrees and I’m sitting at Starbucks drinking iced coffee. But never fear! Apparently this odd warm spell will be short lived, and we’ll all be forced to drink hot coffee by Christmas morning. Or maybe even some hot cocoa.
The Starbucks that I’m sitting at is an Upper West Side location that initially escaped my research. According to the baristas it underwent a remodel earlier this year, so there’s a chance it was closed down and unlisted for a while. I can’t say for sure what it looked like before, but I can say with certainty that it is a well designed Starbucks now. The decor is definitely its best attribute. On the walls hang a few framed photographs that portray people in metro areas enjoying Starbucks in various fashions. I’ve only ever seen these at one other Starbucks before, and they’re definitely more attractive than pictures of coffee beans and the roasting process. There’s also some pretty nifty looking lighting throughout. Above you can see the lighting ornament that hangs directly above the milk cart.
Apart from the decor, this Starbucks is average sized; it has a good amount of seating, one restroom, a consistently crowded lobby and a location that makes it convenient for a quick pick-me-up while Christmas shopping. Speaking of — that’s my mission for the rest of the day. Wish me luck!
I really was not expecting to find very many great Starbucks left in Manhattan this close to the year’s end. Yet, here I sit at the beautifully designed Starbucks on the border of Stuyvesant Town and Kips Bay. This Starbucks can’t be more than a few weeks old, and its size, design, decor, seating and overall newness really do make for a perfect Starbucks in the city.
My favorite attribute has to be the chain screen panels that separate the seating area from the hall and the bar. But other great features include the hanging lighting, the wood paneled walls and the hanging pictures. And the closest thing to a flaw this Starbucks has is its location. This area on 1st ave is at least 10 blocks from everything and a long walk to public transportation that’s not a bus. Fortunately there is a Citi Bike just out front. How do you think I got here?
The Starbucks on the corner of 100th and Columbus belongs to the small NYC neighborhood of Manhattan Valley. Essentially, this is where the Upper West Side meets West Harlem. Broadway is to the west, a small shopping district is to the south, Central Park is one block east, and Harlem is just north. The neighborhood — which was once called the Bloomingdale District — got its name because this area is a geographical depression. From Columbus Ave, I can literally see the street slope down to the south and rise back up to the north.
The Starbucks is at the northern edge of a small shopping area that contrasts greatly with the towering apartment buildings just north of 100th street. But then again, that’s gentrification for you. This location is not too big and not too small. It’s just the right size Starbucks with an adequate amount of seating on one side of the L-shaped interior. You can choose to sit at a low bar and gaze out the window and watch the southbound traffic. Or if you’re lucky enough, you can grab a seat at the long sofa with attached tables and power outlets. Most likely though, the fluctuating crowd will determine your seat, and you’ll take whatever is open.
Today I visited my 200th Starbucks for this blog.
100 Starbucks ago, I was sitting at Grand Central Terminal, half-way through my endeavor and somewhat optimistic that I could accomplish the task at hand. 100 Starbucks before that, I sat down at my first Starbucks on 52nd & 8th Ave and — quite frankly — had no idea what I was getting myself into. But here I am. 200 Starbucks into the blog and less than 10 away from visiting all the Starbucks in Manhattan. I’ll drink to that.
The Starbucks on 53rd & Park Ave is actually located inside a privately owned public seating area called Park Avenue Plaza. It’s just west of Park, and there are entrances both on 52nd and 53rd. The Starbucks is not a distinct store, but a kiosk style Starbucks located in the northeast corner of the space. There are office buildings above and other features include a book store, public restrooms, a children’s winter play place and a waterfall wall (pictured above).
Unfortunately, this Starbucks does not offer WiFi, so if you’re coming here to get out of the cold, bring a book not a laptop. Also come early. Although the space is available 7-days a week until 10pm, the Starbucks is only open until 6:30pm on weekdays, which only makes sense. After all, it’s not like there isn’t another Starbucks just a few yards west on 53rd street.
Today ends my exploration of the neighborhoods known as the Heights, and apparently I inadvertently saved the best for last. I’ve been to Morningside Heights, Washington Heights and Hudson Heights, and today I’m up on 145th street near the neighborhood of Hamilton Heights.
I’m currently sitting at the Starbucks on the corner of 145th and Bradhurst. Directly across the street to the west is the small — currently snow-covered — park known as Jackie Robinson Park, where apparently residents like to build snowmen (see above). And it is that park that separates this Starbucks from the large neighborhood of Hamilton Heights and its sub-neighborhood of Sugar Hill. But since Starbucks up here in the Heights are so scattered, this is the closest location to serve the residents of these two neighborhoods.
In case you were wondering, yes, the Hamilton Heights neighborhood was named after Founder Father Alexander Hamilton — way back when there was still farmland here in Manhattan. But the story I find more interesting is that of the smaller neighborhood of Sugar Hill. The neighborhood got its name because it became the home to wealthy African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. Both it’s geographical height — yes, it is a hill — and the contrasting wealth of its residents made life in this neighborhood look sweet as sugar, and it has since become a municipal historic district of Manhattan.
One thing I find interesting about this Starbucks on 145th Street is that it is not directly atop a subway station. All the other Starbucks in the Heights of Manhattan have (for obvious reasons) quite literally followed the major subway lines. But this Starbucks is a few blocks between the A/C, B/D and the 3 stations. Perhaps that’s why it’s also larger and more accommodating then the other Upper Manhattan Starbucks. This one was designed for more than just a spot to grab your commuter coffee; here you can sit and stay a while. And judging by the sizable crowd and consistent lack of open seats, I would say I’m not the only one who feels this way.
In fact, today there is a sign on the door stating that their espresso machine is broken and they can only serve coffees and teas — but the crowd is still coming on strong.
Nearly a year into this blog and still I’m discovering new and unique New York City neighborhoods. Today, I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan.
Battery Park City is just west of the Financial District and the World Trade Center. In fact, it’s the only neighborhood I’ve been to that is actually west of the west of the West Side Highway. There’s no subways into this neighborhood, but there is an elevated skywalk that crosses the highway so residents and visitors can easily pass between here and FiDi. Although Battery Park City is both business and residential, it seems to cater mostly to the business crowd.
In fact, this Starbucks is inside the lobby of a gigantic building complex called the World Financial Center, which appears to be part office building, part mall. There’s at least four independent buildings making up WFC, and they’re all interconnected and stretch across the entire neighborhood. The Starbucks is in the main building of WFC and literally overlooks the West Side Highway — or West Street as it is called in this neighborhood.
So, yes — this Starbucks is in an office building, but don’t underestimate it. It has its very own entrance, design, and decor. It’s no simple coffee cart. It’s a decent size and offers plenty of seating. In fact, I thought the Starbucks was small at first, only to discover that beyond the barista bar is an entirely separate — and slightly hidden — seating area. The only thing it lacks is its very own restroom for guests.
According to the Starbucks App there are two Starbucks located here in Battery Park City. This one and one in Four World Financial Center. But this entire complex is going through some major renovations and actually changing names to be called Brookfield Place come 2014. I went hunting for this other elusive Starbucks but could not find it. I asked around and was told this is the only one in the area, so my guess is either this other Starbucks is not accessible to the public or closed during the renovations. Which begs another question… What do the residents of Battery Park City do with only one Starbucks in their neighborhood?