Coffee For One
6 min read

Coffee For One

I just saved this post as a draft and it managed to delete itself in 5 seconds. Sad, sad, sad. The following will be a quick attempt to salvage what I remember I wrote. SAD.

A few months ago, I picked up a “disloyalty card” from Birch Coffee – a card that has ten different coffee shops on it, and has the same concept as a regular punch card – get punches from ten different cafes, and receive a free drink at the eleventh! It encouraged me to try out different places than what I was used to, and pushed me out of my comfort zone to be comfortable going to more places alone. In college, the phrase I heard so very often was “Do you want to meet up? We can go grab a cup of coffee or something!” To me, coffee shops and cafes had distinct functions to me – either a place where two people could meet up without the pressure and heaviness (pun intended) of a full meal, taking less time out of their schedule (and with my hectic busy jampacked college schedule, sometimes a thirty minute coffee date was all that I could manage, sadly) or a place where students who couldn’t concentrate in the silence of apartments or libraries could study with the buzz of conversation accompanying them.

In New York, I rarely have people to meet up with for coffee (although there have been a few!) and I don’t have anything to study (I guess I could study data munging with Perl.. Hmm…) so I’ve gotten used to being alone, with just myself and book, or sometimes not even anything and just listening to the flow of conversation around me. I happen to eavesdrop a lot. Is that bad? I like hearing what people talk about. I’ve heard people pretentiously name-dropping titles of intellectual books and authors, women discussing wedding plans, friends debating the merits of San Francisco entrepreneurs and start up culture (I always laugh a little on the inside when I hear San Francisco and California being talked about in New York. Not really sure why. It just makes me laugh.) and business men throwing out ideas for an online wine recommendation and delivery website.

There are a lot of people in the city. It makes me feel small, but not in a bad way. It just reminds me that the world is much, much bigger than what I see in front of me every day.

I finally filled out my disloyalty card a few weeks ago, but have been reluctant to use up my free drink because I haven’t had the time to sit down and order a large drink – basically, I wanted to get the most bang for my buck. Economical, right? I finally picked Birch Coffee as the place to get a large coffee, and am currently sitting here now on my iPhone’s hotspot, because they have no wifi on the weekends. A lot of the places have no wifi, to encourage conversation, which I think is a cool idea unless you are on your own.



1. Birch Coffee – a place with lots of seating, cool music, and little signs with conversation starters that you can grab at the counter. Also the best avocado-tomato-cheddar sandwich ever.
2. Cafe Grumpy – another place with no wifi, and they even have a no electronics rule to encourage face to face interaction! They were a bit snobby though and I didn’t really like it. I am not one that finds friends in strangers, unlike my brother who can strike up a conversation with any cashier. I just feel awkward and want to get away as soon as possible.
3. Everyman Espresso – I walked here in a snowstorm after a long Nutcracker rehearsal. That’s all I remember about this place. I think it was next to a small theater, and had playbills on the inside, and writers sitting on benches hunched over their laptops working on the scripts to their big breakout plays.
4. Gimme! Coffee – this is a typical small coffee shop, with no inside seating and only a small standing bar by the window where you can people-watch for about thirty seconds before getting in the way of some other hipster West Village person wanting to get their coffee fix of the day (or hour).
5. Irving Farm Coffee Roasters – For some reason I tend to frequent this place on a Sunday, and although the vibe is a lot more modern than Sacks Coffee, it reminds me of getting lox bagels before church service on Sundays and I tend to get bagels here too. The coffee is not bad, but their chai is very, very strong..
6. Joe Coffee – I like this place a lot, if just for sentimental reasons – it was one of the first places I came to when I came to New York the first year I did the ABT summer intensive and first started to like coffee.
7. Kaffe 1668 – I took the train to get there during lunchtime, and they offer a free iced tea with your sandwich. But I ended up getting a coffee later anyways, because I wanted to try it. They have sheep everywhere. I guess sheep are their thing.
8. Ninth Street Espresso – I think this place is a small hidden gem in the middle of a quieter, slightly more upscale area of midtown on the East side. It also has very strong coffee.
9. Ports Coffee & Tea – they also have very limited seating, but they are luckily located very close by to Doughnut Plant, so I got a coffee to go and a matcha doughnut from Doughnut Plant, and was very happy for the afternoon.
10. Third Rail Coffee – best drip coffee ever, and for a very decent price! This is the place I come the most, during my long lunch breaks on Thursdays, where everyone else is in Health & Nutrition and I have a good 2 hours to myself. This is one of my happy places.

Along the way I’ve also discovered a few other places that I really enjoy visiting – La Colombe, where they had the prettiest latte art, Stumptown, where I always have to sit in a corner booth half obscured by shadows, and Fika, that has the best cappuccino ever.

I don’t mind being alone. I think I like it, for the most part. Especially for quiet weekend hours where I don’t feel the pressure to entertain someone else or to exert extra energy to keep up with a pace of conversation and to seem interesting – that’s when being alone is the best.

I think I also drink too much coffee than is good for me…

Final latte at Birch Coffee Shadows at Third Rail Coffee Stumptown in the wild! Just kidding, just terrariums. Donut and coffee at Birch, mmm. My pretty latte at La Colombe Eavesdropping from the outside on a couple at La Colombe Hullo, Stumptown! Homemade poptarts at Stumptown Ports Coffee black & white & brown color scheme at Ninth Street Espresso A messed up latte heart from the overeager Fika barista Surprise! SF coffee - Sightglass