Recently, Yahoo news posted a list of 100 things that makes you happy. Listed on top 10 was the perfect cup of coffee. The taste, the smell of coffee is uplifting on any given day. Coffee sets the mood and it is part of the Western culture. Over business, a friendly outing, a routine, or just because. As a former Starbucks barista for 2+ years and as a daily pick me up during the middle of the day, I think I have had enough coffee in my life by now that I am certified to be a coffee connoisseur. So here are what I have encounter on my search to the perfect cup of coffee.
Once a Starbucks barista always will be a Starbucks customer. I do regularly crave for my usual favorite and that is the iced grande hazelnut coffee with half and half. It is a safe choice whichever Starbucks you step into it is more or less consistent whereas the lattes and cappuccino it really depends on the skills of the barista. Thankfully, less than 1 mile radius from the office I work at in Chelsea, the Starbucks on 23rd and 8th ave brews close to the palette I desire.
Not very far away on 23rd and 9th ave, recently turned 2 years old is Joe the Art of Coffee. Sister branch of the original Waverly Place location which started as a mom and pop coffee shop have now expanded soon to be fifth location tailored to the Upper West Side nautical family. Joe the Art of Coffee have made latte art into mainstream and have really set the bar for all coffee shops to require to have latte art. Most of the design is not fancy, no Hello Kitty latte art here just the basic leaf and heart. The balance between milk and espresso is exceptional and the baristas are hip too.
Last Friday I had Good Friday off. Thank You Jesus! So I decided to pampered myself on my way to pick up my half marathon gear at the 2 World Financial Center. I made a quick coffee stop at Financier Patisserie and right opposite is of course Starbucks. Financier Patisserie is best known for the French influence pastries. Leading to the weekend of Easter Sunday, Financier Patisserie was festive and Easter ready with various pastries with beautiful Easter themed designs. I ordered an iced coffee and the staffs are by far the jolliest I have encounter at a coffee shop in awhile. Along with my iced coffee I received a little treat, a mini madeleine wrapped in a clear plastic with the Financier logo. The iced coffee was good but the service and mainly the surprise treat really exceeded my expectation of Financier Patisserie. Will definitely return for sweets in the future.
Packaging has become such a crucial part to marketing coffee in what coffee has become a commodity. Remember the 50 cents cup of coffee in a “We are Happy to Serve You” paper cup. Irving Farm teamed with a renowned graphic designer Louise Fili and created the most beautiful coffee bean packaging found in the coffee sections of Whole Foods. Being curious, I had to get my hands on a cup of Irving Farm at the Irving Farm coffee shop on 14th street and 7th Ave. If you like mild coffee Irving Farm is your kind of brew. I personally like my coffee bold so the design of Irving Farm is what really makes this coffee shop standout from the pack. The coffee shop also carries bake goods from local bakeries such as the Almond Croissant from Balthazar Bakery. This is the best croissant I have had since visiting Paris. The almond croissant had toasted almonds on the outside and frangipan filling on the inside. It was buttery but not overly greasy. Though it is on the expensive side for $3.25 I shared the croissant with my family of four which is why it may have tasted so good. Everything just taste better when you share.
Other than the perfect cup of coffee, on the menu of many coffee shops have hot cider and no where other than Shake Shack at the heart of Madison Square Park have the best caramel apple cider with a side of munchkin donuts during the winter months. Shake Shack Shroom Burger makes me happy too.
I have my regular go to spot but when you’re in New York City why not go explore from your comfort realm. Coffee shops I would like to try, so let’s meet up and sip: