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30 Days: 30 Coffee Shops

October 8, 2009

Welcome to Type7’s newest series! The challenge: one new coffee shop every day for as long as I can go…or at least a month.

Reasons:
1. I knocked my own coffee pot off the counter last week and broke it.
2.  I’m spending all day in my apartment, which I think is leading to depression, hives and/or cabin fever.
3. I’ve been kind of lax on this blog, and I need some structure to get things rolling again.<

Guidelines:
Resources: UrbanSpoon, NYMag and Yelp
Categories: wi-fi, cleanliness, coffee quality, food quality, patron quality, people-watching quality and, quite frankly, any quality I happen to notice at that cafe.

At the end of the month, I’ll have spent roughly the same amount it costs to buy a new coffee maker. At that point, I’ll decide whether or not it’s worth it to buy a new one or to continue working away from home (I’m guessing, for my mental health, the answer will be the latter).

So, adieu, Sunburst. I love you and will be back in a month.


Day 1

NYPL frontSide trip: Migrating from Midtown West to Midtown East today, I popped into the New York Public Library a) because people work there and b) because when I was little, my goal had been to read every book in the library. It’s kind of a holy grail.

Contrary to popular conception, the NYPL is  actually just a giant marble rectangle composed entirely of hallways. OK, not really. But I spent the majority of my time wandering down hallways, turning corners and peeking into private collection reading rooms, every one of which had an old man in a suit, sitting at a mahogany desk and reading underneath a green-shade lamp. I’m not kidding. They probably hide the real books somewhere within the staircases, which look something like an Escher painting (it makes me so happy, btdubs, that I can Google “crazy stairs” and find the painter’s name).

Anyway, I ended up in Reading Room 316. It is a long, narrow room with hard wood floors, fake wood conference tables, portraits of old men and little else. There’s no coffee, it smells like old books and is disturbingly quiet. So of course when I opened my laptop, the Drake I’d been playing that morning was still on. It was bad. Reading Room 316 and I did not get along, and on top of everything, a portrait of George Washington smirked down at me on my right for the entirety of my fake-work session. His cheeks are way too rosy.

Barnes & Noble Cafe, 46th and 5th.

I’d hoped for something a little more original for the first coffeeIMG00085shop, but it’s Midtown. Work with me.

Wi-fi: Yes! Complimentary, as well. According to the signs, all Barnes & Nobles now offer this pleasantry.

Computer plug-ins: Eee, not so much. This seemed to be a reading and one-hour-battery only cafe.

Music: Um,does the Kings of Leon I played via iMeem count?

Eats: All Barnes & Nobles serve Starbucks coffee. Pretty standard. But I maintain that Starbucks have the best almond biscottis around.

Ambiance: I bought my first-ever Twilight book at this location, so I’m a little biased towards this cafe. From a neutral POV, the overhead fluorescent lights don’t do much to inspire, but it is clean and spacious, with enough commotion to hide the fact that you’re people watching when you should be working. To top everything off, I IMG00086had this great Stephen Colbert tote bag staring at me the whole time.

Patrons: SO pleasant! Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading Buddhist philosophy on compassion, but everyone was so nice at this cafe. Since it was 3 pm on a Wednesday, most people were 30 and up, in running shoes and trenches, reading books at these tables. And people shared those tables. With strangers. It was like snack time on steroids. And I wasn’t even mad. In fact, I loved the woman across from me in her little chain necklace and her little blonde mom bob and her trench coat. I didn’t take a picture, because that would just be creepy, but trust me. She was great.

Additional notes: Overall, great experience. A whole bookstore sat inches away, waiting to inspire, and the bathroom sat even closer, in case you wanted to take that inspiration to the john.

Overall Grade: B-

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