Welcome to New York. Now that you have gotten into school and have started looking at apartments, it’s time to talk about the serious issues that face an incoming student: where to get caffeine. Preferably tasty caffeine, in the form of coffee.
We’ll assume that you are trying to avoid Starbucks. Because you are not the sort of person who is in favor of union busting. Or of corporations who use their clout to manipulate world coffee commodities markets to keep poor coffee farmers poor. Or of a place that exaggerates its commitment to Fair-Trade coffee. But if you are the sort of person who isn’t bothered by those things, stick your head out the Graduate Center’s front door, walk in any direction, and your satanic thirst will be sated within minutes.
For the rest of you, let me offer my humble coffee-loving advice.
If you are looking for beans to make your own coffee, try Dallis Bros. Coffee, a Queens coffee roaster (now merged with a New Jersey roaster) that first opened in 1913. I have tried more than a dozen of their roasts so far, and while I definitely have a few favorites (one of which is the Red Den Blend—while most of their selection rotates seasonally, this one is always available), I have never had any cause for complaint. They generally have a few espresso roast choices too, including the Alphabet City Blend which I had for the first time at Ninth Street Espresso, which are very tasty. And though they no longer deliver to your door by horse-drawn cart, you generally only need a few days to receive your order.
If you are at the GC and need a hit of caffeine, I would recommend Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Their Manhattan location is on 28th St between 5th and 6th Ave, adjacent to the Ace Hotel. This establishment—brought to us by those coffee zealots out in Portland,OR—serves a mean cup of coffee. Or cappuccino. Or iced coffee. Or really anything that I, or anyone I know who has been there, has had. Also your purchase of a beverage from Stumptown allows you to ask the concierge at the hotel for their wireless password, so you can hang out, do some work, people watch, or just drink your coffee, all in the Ace’s lobby (just FYI—there is also a bar in the lobby). It’s not a bad place to study—if you can find a spot to sit. One thing to remember: go to the ATM first because it’s cash only. Or “forget” that it’s cash only and go with someone who you know is loaded and let them pay.
Another great choice for coffee in the area is Culture Espresso, which you will find at the corner of 38th St and 6th Ave. The vibe is similar to Stumptown (bespectacled, tattooed, and vest-wearing baristas will serve you, many with suspenders) though there is no big lobby to hang out in. However you can pay with a credit card here, so you don’t have to have remembered to hit up a cash machine before getting your latte.
Sometimes a walk doesn’t fit in the brief time between classes. In that case, just go to the café in the GC lobby. It’s relatively cheap, the coffee is better than average, and the beans are all bought from Pura Vida, who aim to provide environmentally and economically ethical and sustainable coffees. For the cost and convenience, this is a good buy.
When you move into your new neighborhood, ask around as to where the best coffee is (or ask the New York Times, who has this nice good-coffee-finding map). You will likely be spending the next several years with too little sleep, cramming too much into too little time. So it’s good to know where locally you can find a nice cup of coffee to rely on for your coming ordeals. Remember my motto: caffeinate early and caffeinate often.