The Upper East Side in the '60s (the streets, not the decade) is filled with large chain store franchises. On the eastern avenues, like Second and Third, it feels more and more like a suburban shopping mall every time I go (which is not often). That's why Java Girl, on East 66th Street between Second and First Avenues, stands out. It describes itself, on t-shirts for sale in the store and in its online logo, as "indescribably exotic & sometimes nutty." In other words, Java Girl really wants us to think it's a pretty odd place. It's neither exotic or nutty for a New York coffee bar, but it's unique given its location, which is in fact relatively convenient to all the hospitals and doctors' offices located around there (Weill Cornell Medical Center and Sloan-Kettering).
And that is a nice thing. There are exposed brick walls, little wooden tables and chairs for seating and quiet conversation for as long as you want, a selection of teas as well as coffees, and various other food items, too. They do a good mixed nuts, dried fruits and seeds snack bag, for example.
What this place does best is convey "homey." It's one-of-a-kind, and that really stands out in an area so obviously filled with the repetition of chain stores and otherwise not comfy places, like doctors' offices and hospitals.
If you didn't know it was here, you'd just walk right by. I'm glad I know it's there, for it makes me slightly less indifferent about the Upper East Side than I otherwise would be. And besides, the latte's pretty good.