Posted by: Gerry Martini | 30th May, 2017

Caffeine Makes the World Brighter

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.

I’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, and while I definitely have a few favorites (one of which is the Red Den Blend—while much of their selection rotates, this one is always available), I have never had any cause for complaint. 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. One of their Manhattan locations is on 28th St between 5th and 6th Aves, 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.

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.

Now a couple years old is Hole in the Wall. The name doesn’t lie; this is a great place to grab some tasty coffee, however it’s tiny so you won’t be there to sit and read. That’s because there are zero seats and space for only about four people in the shop. Located at 420 5th Ave, you actually have to enter the building on the 37th or 38th Street entrances to the building (it’s in a corner of the lobby). They serve up very nice espressos, flat whites, and cortados, and carry an array of Dough Donuts.

A new favorite spot is Trademark Grind on 36th between 5th and 6th Aves. Jo & co. serve fantastic drinks and baked goods. Their cortados are so good that I usually order two at a time. If I have one complaint it’s that they list their roaster, Sweetleaf, as being from Greenpoint when I want them to get the credit they deserve for originating in my borough, Queens (can I help it that Brooklyn then imported our great stuff?).  This is a pretty minor complaint in an overall delicious spot though; a must-taste, as far as I’m concerned!

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 and the coffee is better than average.

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.

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