Have you ever wondered how many coffee houses there are in New York? Maybe not. Every wondered how much coffee you could drink before you thought your veins would explode? Ever wondered how many different coffee bars are in your town? Maybe not. Well, Taylor and I decided to hit as many as we could in one day. Read about it in Tracey and Taylor's excellent adventure through some of New York's coffee bars. Did you know there is an Australian surf-shop coffee bar in SoHo or...well...you'll have to read to find out.


Nov 14, 2010by tracey Comments

Man can not live by coffee alone. Not sure anyone actually said that. I do think man cannot live by Starbucks alone, at least once you have gone around and tasted the “indie” coffee houses.

This weekend Taylor was home. Saturday we were looking for a project that did not involve looking for and trying on more boots. We are both coffee freaks, coffee nuts, coffee addicts, perhaps you could call us coffee beans.  I cannot get out of the house without a strong cup.  She cannot carry on a conversation without one. I once didn’t go to a yoga retreat as the only thing I refused to go without for four days was caffeine. They said no booze.  Fine.  No cell phones.  Fine.  No sugar.  Fine.  No meat. Better. No coffee.  Give me back my deposit.

So Saturday Taylor came up with the great idea, and I think it was truly inspired, that we would go around New York and visit various coffee houses. I don’t know how she came up with the initial list, but it is really a good one, diverse and interesting. She picked six, we ended up at eight.  We barely scratched the surface of the New York caffeine scene.  But we plan on hitting them all over the several months.  This is our first outing, if the photos are good they are hers, if they are blurred they are mine.

The first stop on our coffee parade was a place called D’Espresso. Now I thought I was cool as I go to a Swedish place called FIKA, which is actually excellent. Who knew the Swedes made good coffee?   D’Espresso has apparently been downtown on Stanton Street for awhile and they recently opened a branch at 317 Madison which is on 42nd St.

The place is very cool it has trompe l’oeil books on the floor, walls and ceiling. This is the floor.

This is Dennis the Barista. We met such an varied group of people who whip up the drinks. Dennis was a good time. Each place has it’s own vibe. Being mid-town and near Grand Central and not in a “hood” this was not one of those “every body knows your name” type of spots. No sitcom is going to be shot here. But the coffee is EXCELLENT.

First cap of the journey. We were pretty caffeine free when we started. By the end of the day our eyeballs looked like Charlie Manson’s.

Being it was early  we needed lunch. I always love a bombolino for lunch. This was  a good one. Fatty and sugary and oozing with chocolate. This certainly added to a kind of peaking and crashing my system was starting to go through.

This is Jack a sociology teacher from Garrison, New York. I don’t know how many cups he had had. We left D’Espresso but I would have to say this is one that I will return to. While it was not the warmest or fuzziest,  some had yarn for sale; it is a block from where I get my hair blown dry and I really liked the coffee.

We said good-bye to Dennis and told him we would be back.

Our next stop was a place called Culture Cafe on West 38th St. Well, actually our next stop was Lord and Taylor as Glenn said it had recently undergone a giant facelift. I have never been a big Lord and Taylor shopper, and if it has undergone a big facelift, they should have called John Turk because I could not tell any difference. We walked out of there with one red lipstick for Taylor. I love red lipstick, but one of the things about being fifty is you cannot wear red lipstick, it really ages you. One of the things about being pretty and 19, all you need to do is comb your hair and slide on some ruby red lipstick and you look like a million bucks. So I buy it for Tay~ I had my day. I like seeing her in it now.

So there we were in another non-neighborhood neighborhood as everywhere in New York is somebodies neighborhood.  The West 30’s around Lord and Taylor is primarily  Korean for a few blocks.  The Culture Cafe is smack dab in the middle of this. It looks like it escaped from  from a young adult romance novel and landed in this odd part of New York.

I like the way they displayed their beans. I learned you can tell a lot about a place by the way they display their beans.

This is Arielle the Barista. The girl behind her was having a cranky day. Arielle made a fine cappucino.

At the end of this one I could start to feel my heart beats speed up.

We decided we needed some more sustenance. So we opted for a gluten free chocolate cookie and a green tea cookie. They were both good. Gluten does add a certain something there is no denying it.

The one thing all these places have in common is you can always find someone texting and another on a laptop.

You see the girl in the window on her laptop. This place had a great vibe too. You felt like people knew each other and it was a real “hangout.” But we had to get a move on.  We had many more places to go and a lot more caffeine to ingest.

See what I mean about the red lipstick?

We headed downtown to SoHo to Crosby Street where  there is a  place called Saturdays. It is supposed to be an Australian Surf Shop/Coffee Bar. Yep, somebody came up with that idea. And it works. They sell surf things made in Australia.

You can get a latte and a long board.

Or a double espresso and a wet suit.

I’m kind of into skulls these days so I was taken with this skull fin. Now if only I still had my surf board. Yes, once upon a time I did have one.

They pride themselves on serving their drinks in plain white cups that say Saturdays.

Saturday’s Barrista. I did not get her name. She was kind of busy. It’s a popular place and we got the feeling a true hangout.

Obligatory person on laptop. But a really nice little outdoor space to sit and drink your coffee or try on your board shorts.

The interesting thing about Saturdays other than it’s an Australian surf shop/coffee house  is that it’s not  actually owned by  Australians, but one guy from Newport Beach and the other from Oregon.  However it’s run by Nathan from Perth to give it an authentic Aussie feeling. Which is very important for an Australian surf/shop/coffee house in the middle of New York City.

The next stop was a place on Bond Street.   We had gone from  modern/cool to doll house cute, to surfs up; we then suddenly found ourselves in this warm, fuzzy, earthy place called The Smile.

They actually sell yarn and have pumpkins scattered about.

How many places do you find knitted picture frames holding Obama’s photo?  This place gives off the vibe that if you show up often enough everyone will know your name, or at least pretend to.

Not sure if the Barista is required to wear a knit cap or not.

They made very good coffee. We got ours to go. We loved the cup. How could you not? We were so high on caffeine at this point we were reeling. I thought my mitro valve pro lapse would totally lapse.  We took our coffee” to go” to a candle store on Bond Street as we needed to smell something other than coffee. But Taylor said the combination of too much coffee and all the scents made her sick, so we left and went and looked at jeans in the new Rogan store.

We left there with the intent of hitting one more spot up on 46th and 2nd called Jittery Joes. We loved the name and it mimiced what we were feeling. But life and coffee bars sometimes have a plan of their own. As we headed down Lafayette Street we found this cute little spot.

It was tiny and sweet ~ the kind of place you grab a coffee to go. It was not  a linger for hours or work on your screenplay type of shop.

The coffee looked good and smelled good. We could not handle another cup so we took photos and left.

We were looking for a cab when we spotted Peels on Bowery and 2nd. It looked like a coffee bar and part of it was. It also looked like we were in another city, or perhaps we were so caffeineated we were hallucinating.

They sold sweets and snacks and something called Sumptown Coffee which the fine art of Googling has taught me is this very cool brand from Oregon.

I took one of their cards and we left. We walked outside. The whole city was suddenly one giant coffee house.


We looked across the street and saw this. We couldn’t believe it. We went inside.

Like zombies we got in line. Who comes up with prices like $4.71 or  $3.38?

We ordered coffee and took a photo of the unhappy hipster Barista. He looks like he might have actually burned himself.

I even bought a half pound of Kenyan beans, which is odd as I use Nespresso pods. The caffeine had gotten to me.

We took our coffee outside and started wandering around. It was dark by then, we were on Bleeker near Bowery. There was no way we were hitting Jittery Joes, that would have to wait for another day.  So we headed down Bleeker towards 6th or somewhere and we passed a door.  It was dark inside and kind of looked like a club, but it also looked like they had a coffee bar.    I dragged Taylor in or she dragged me in,not sure who thought we should go in: but I’m glad we did as we found ourselves in a coffee house called Yippies.

And of all the places we went yesterday it totally gets the prize for originality and being the most colorful and oddly fun.

Yippie’s not Yuppies.

We  have obligatory guy on computer.

Best prices of the day.  We wanted to buy something but we wanted decaf.  The coffee all had caffeine. But Farrell the guy who runs the place made us some herbal tea. We chatted with Farrell for awhile.  He didn’t want me taking his photo.

Remember the add this is your brain on drugs?  This is me after 7 coffee houses.

I got him to give in. Farrell the Barista who gave us tea. And I wouldn’t really call him a Barista, he runs the joint and he does a great job. I would totally go back to Yippies.