Reaching Coffee Heaven

When moving to New York, the last thing I expected to have trouble finding was a good coffee shop. After five months here I can easily count the number of good places I’ve found on one hand. Now, I realize much of my problem is living in Harlem where coffee is scarce outside of bodegas and our Starbucks (by the way, I vote for 125th/Lenox to be one of the most surprising place to find a Starbucks). Sure I can live on Dunkin’ Donuts or favorite bodega for morning coffee but I can hardly sit down with a book in either place and get comfortable.

Now when I’ve been looking for a good place to get good coffee I’m willing to travel. I’ll make an evening of it if I’d really like to sit down and enjoy a nice mug or two and dig into a book. After fruitless wandering, I decided to research online and googled the hell out of every combination of relevent words as well as utilizing the standard nyc websites. Most frequently I find a nice enough place that is relatively comfortable with the one or both of the following major problems:

1) table service
2) their coffee sucks

If your menu consists of beverages and a handful of pastries scrawled on a chalkboard you DON’T need a fucking server. Nobody ever gives me the bum rush but having a server checking on me while I drink and read doesn’t give me the impression I should stick around. Next, I realize more and more people drink all sorts of coffee based beverages I can’t even begin to comprehend but if you are a business dealing in coffee you should have coffee that is at least palatable when consumed without additives, a selection would also be nice.

The other night I finally found a real winner at ’71 Irving Place.’ Stepping in from the perfect fall evening, I immediately knew I found what I had been searching for. The place was tiny and packed (possibly a drawback for some) but couldn’t be more inviting. A broad selection of beans for sale with four varieties brewed and a decent selection of food. The packed seating area leads to a friendly atmosphere where you’ll more than likely chat with a neighbor before you leave.

We’re getting into the perfect coffee shop weather so I’d like to find more nice places like ’71’ but I’m tired of the search and will more than likely make the trek back the next time I feel like settling in to read on a quiet night. Let me know if you’ve got any reccomendations. I think this entry has made it relatively clear about my rather picky tastes when it comes to enjoying a good cup.

1 Comment so far

  1. Melissa (unregistered) on October 25th, 2005 @ 9:46 am

    Hey Brian,

    I sadly gave up coffee almost 2 years ago, but I understand your plight.

    You may want to give M. Rohr’s House of Fine Tea’s and Coffee a try. It’s on 85th b/w 1st and 2nd (north side of the street, closer to 2nd).

    From what I’ve read, this place has been around since 1896, so I’d think they’re doing SOMETHING right. I pass it every day, and it looks like the kind of place you’re looking for.

    Good luck!

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