Saturday, April 30, 2011

Caffeinated Weekends - Joe Coffee

Why "caffeinated weekends?"  Seems not exactly the direction we customarily aim for, that is, weekdays = caffeine, and weekend = ahhhh relax at home.  Monday through Friday, the quick morning caffeine blast before, or on the way to, the office is the norm around here.  However, when I was, until quite recently, an office worker, I would walk into any of the recent wave of excellent quality espresso bars as I grabbed mine to go, and I would regard with such longing the customers who had the luxury of time to linger over their purchase IN the shop, sitting with a book or laptop or their smart phone or even - gasp - a human companion, and sip and experience time in this group environment, able to enjoy the bustle and aroma and the charming baristas sporting their inventive head gear.

I've been making an effort, in this new non-office life of mine, to try every espresso bar that appears to be worth its espresso maker.  That would be in New York as well as in my travels.  And closest to home is Joe coffee.  Without a doubt, it's the best of the Upper West Side, and the lines that are always out the door are testimony to that view being held by (for better or worse) more than just me.
Unlike a number of other excellent coffee bars, Joe has a number of chairs and tiny tables, as well as two long outdoor wooden benches, and, even though popular all day longer, I've never had an impossible time locating a place to sit after at most a few patient minutes of waiting.  Another big advantage, far lower down on the list than the quality of the coffee and service, but often very important post-run, is that they have a bathroom - hooray!  They serve fresh baked goods from a variety of well-known bakeries in the city, including a few vegan items from time to time.  When they run out by mid-afternoon, though, that's it till tomorrow morning.

The place is tiny and should be at least double its size to accommodate its popularity (Joe, take a hint, please, the next time one of your neighbors' leases opens up).  In fact, when this uptown branch of the Joe Coffee group was building out in advance of its opening, I followed its every movement towards its first day, including the notices that they e-mailed to their followers when their beloved espresso maker (machine not human being) was being delivered and installed. 

All that is in the past now (two years, which I'll remember well for other reasons), and their loyal following was immediate.  Now that I'm a weekday regular, too, I tend to see the same folks there who sit and sip, rather than purchase and go.  I do both, depending on the day and schedule.  In any case, they know my name (and in their defense, those smart baristas have been welcoming me by name since long before my almost daily visits, back when I was just a fair-weather friend - that is, following my weekend Reservoir runs).  Perhaps caffeine helps the memory; I'm hoping so.

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