Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Coffee Shops in the City

One of the greatest benefits to filling my day wandering and writing* has been discovering coffee shops.  Although I have some Starbucks gift cards that I will take full advantage of, I prefer to support local coffee shops and try out their house blends.  (I’m trying my damnedest to be an astute coffee drinker because that’s the cheapest way to justify my extended presence in each shop.)

I’ve already mentioned The Daily Press because it’s so near to me and right in front of the entrance to the subway.  I started frequenting it not only for its convenience and simple charm (they play such an assortment of music, from Boston to hip-hop to jazz to a delightful hour of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours; they also have a projector, and they played a great jazz documentary in the background one afternoon); I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve actually been mildly stalking the staff.  I want to establish familiarity and routine in my neighborhood, so I’m trying to make myself a regular.

The Daily Press Bed-Stuy
But I’ve also stopped in and visited other local shops and chains, some near me and some simply happened-upon in Manhattan.

Joe, Upper West Side

Cafe Grumpy, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Here, at Cafe Grumpy, I struck up a relatively brief but interesting conversation with a regular, Antonio, who is Italian but grew up in Cleveland.
News Bar, Greenwich Village, Manhattan.  It caters to the NYU crowd, definitely. A nice place to leaf through magazines without even having to pretend that you'll eventually buy one.
At News Bar, I sat next to the most adorable old men, drinking their hot chocolate and turning on the old-school charm with the younger staff.

Ms. Dahlia's Cafe, right at the end of my block.

Very charming ladies.  And they were playing Natalie Cole's Unforgettable the whole time.
This is just a small representation, and I might share more about each later.  They all have different personalities, some friendlier than others, but I have always enjoyed the coffee shop atmosphere, especially when there are regulars.

On a run the other day, I haphazardly discovered my favorite coffee shop/bakery in Brooklyn yet: Urban Vintage.  The owners advertise it as a Boutique Café.  The décor is delightful (and for sale) – vintage and upcycled pieces of antique furniture.  The chairs are wonderfully rich yet mismatched, so each table has a unique flair, especially those tables that are hidden back by an armoire that holds great frames or soaps for sale.  Swirls on gilded wallpaper coexist easily with exposed brick painted in random squares of muted antique colors. The food is very affordable and looks delicious; the sandwiches come wrapped in little leaf bows, and the bread is obviously fresh.  For the ultimate treat, I heard the staff announce someone's order: "Nutella latte with almond milk!"  Yes, please. I will certainly visit again.

*I've discussed writing in a previous post.  It's actually become a pleasant and therapeutic hobby, which doesn't necessarily depend on talent or skill.  I've actually found myself writing not only in my journal and for these posts; I started working on a screenplay (say what?).  It's a "movie," a short film really, that's been "playing" over and over in my head and is intensely personal, which is ironic because movies in our culture are so communal.


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