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Five fantastic NYC coffee shops

26 Feb

Love coffee and looking for a local’s take on the best places to warm up on a snowy NYC day (like, say, today)? Well, you won’t find better advice than the below post. Straight outta our Greenpoint, Brooklyn, bureau, I give you our Senior Coffee Correspondent:

OK, so Kelly's obviously drinking tea in this photo, but you get the point.

Three years ago, New York seemed to be the best at everything except coffee, light years behind Seattle or Portland. But with the introduction of the Clover (a machine that grinds and brews coffee in individual cups) and our burgeoning free trade coffee culture, gourmet coffee has found its way into the heart and soul of the city. Below are some of the best cups of coffee I’ve found. I’ve rated them according to six factors on a scale of 1 to 5. — Kelly Aston

Café Grumpy

Espresso: 5. The signature roast is Grumpy’s blend, which is amazing, and better than the (still delicious) single-origin guest espressos often featured.
Milk: 4.5.
Foamed milk blossoms into beautiful shapes of hearts and rosettas, thickening into a soft, smooth treasure.  Occasional lack of consistence.
Diversity of Selection: 4.
A rotating selection of single-origin coffees is accompanied by detailed descriptions of the flavors derived from each distinct bean.  Syrups not available.
Coffee: 5.
One of the only shops in the city with a Clover. Mostly medium roasts, bursting with flavor.  Drip is also available and is not bad.
Ambiance: 5.
Couches, non-pretentious music, free newspapers, Wi-fi.  Perfect.
Food: 2.
Minimal food selection, but what they have is great. Get the chocolate chip banana bread.

Joe, the Art of Coffee

Espresso: 4. Bold, sprightly, and slightly gritty.
Milk: 5.
Milk foaming that brings shivers to the spine.  Consistence is excellent, though each cup claims a personal twist.  Luscious, velvety, cloud-like texture blends deliciously in any drink, forming little works of art.
Diversity of Selection: 4.
Two or three types of drip.  Respectable tea selection.  Flavors available for lovers of sugary goodness.  Feeling adventurous? Get a dirty chai.
Coffee: 4.
Drip coffee is some of the best but does not blend well with soy milk.  Their single cup “drip bar” rivals the freshness of Clover coffee.
Ambiance: 3.
Often crowded and a little small, but tastefully decorated with local art.  Music is charming.  No Wi-fi.
Food: 3.5.
Bagels are fresh, dense and varied.  Delectable treats ranging from vegan cookies to homemade peanut butter cups are beautifully prepared by Jen.

Second Stop Café

Espresso: 4. Rich and hearty.
Milk: 3.
Inconsistent.
Diversity of Selection: 3.
Coffee: 3.
You serve your own drip coffee; it is pretty good.
Ambiance: 4.
Good music, but sometimes a little pretentious.  A newly expanded back area minimizes competition for tables.
Food: 4.
Pumpernickel everything bagels!  Tofu cream cheese.  A recently opened grill where more substantial items are made to order is great. Sizzling bacon out in the open could deter some vegetarians.

Everyman Espresso

Espresso: 4. Fresh, sweet, delicious.
Milk: 4.
Impressive latte art; thick but airy in texture.
Diversity of Selection: 2.
Situated within the CSC playhouse, this espresso bar is not intended to be much more than a refreshment stand, but is an amazingly good one.
Coffee: 4.
They have drip coffee.  It’s good.
Ambiance: 3.
Good music, hard seats.  Perfect temperature; bright lighting.
Food: 2.
Treats are small and unsubstantial.

Tarallucci e Vino

Espresso: 3.5. Mmmmmm, Italian espresso.
Milk: 4.
Hearty.
Diversity of Selection: 4.5.
Any drink you want, aside from extravagant American concoctions.  Several teas available.  Oh, and they have wine!
Coffee: 4.5.
Really, really good coffee.  They even foam the milk.
Ambiance: 4.
Comfortable couch-like seating; outdoor section (summer only).  The occasional loud family enters.
Food: 4.5.
Delicious sandwiches.  Vegetarian options.  Cheese plates.  Yum.

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So you’re gonna sign a lease

14 Feb

This is the first in a series where my friends over at PostGrad Apartments and I will be periodically running each other’s blog posts so even more new New Yorkers can be exposed to the helpful tips they’ll need as newcomers to the city.

Today, the basic terminology you need to navigate your way through signing your first lease! Before you move, you hear a lot about rent control, guarantors and the like. Don’t let it scare you. It’s not the sexiest thing ever, but it’s highly useful stuff. Here’s a great primer to get you started:

So you found an apartment and have already started planning how you’ll fit everything in your closet. But before you can move in, you have to sign your new lease. Even the smartest people get overwhelmed during this process. There are so many new phrases and terms being thrown at you that you begin to wonder if your broker is even speaking English.

Here are some common  lease terms that you’ll hear:

  • Guarantor – Most postgrads moving to the city don’t have the required money (40x the rent) in their bank account to afford an apartment.  That’s where your parents step in and serve as a Guarantor. They usually have to have 80x the rent to be able to co-sign with you.
  • Standard Lease – Basic 12 month lease.
  • Rent Stabilized Lease – Lease says exactly how much the rent will increase if the tenants choose to re-rent the next year.
  • Rent Controlled Lease – Rent stays the same for a specified amount of time.
  • Lessee – Tenant (you!)
  • Lessor – Landlord
  • Addendum – Extra items added to the lease such as lock-out charges.

PostGrad Apartments helps recent graduates and young professionals find affordable rentals in New York City. Our blog is filled with information on everything from apartment hunting to throwing a birthday party to shopping for kitchen essentials.

A consummate city slicker’s essential books on NYC

14 Oct

My friend MacGregor Rucker is not famous, but I believe him to be more in tune with the very soul of New York City and its inner workings than every NY1 talking head, Gawker commenter and Julia Allison-esque personality combined. Today, Greg graciously shares his all-time favorite books about our fair city.

It has struck me, after 30-plus years of living here, that New York City can be compared to an adolescent who never outgrows its awkward years of growth and struggle for identity and oneness with itself. We have been, for quite a long time now, an awful lot of people of diverse backgrounds, colors, cultures, classes, etc., sharing a seemingly unlikely small piece of real estate. These novels could be set nowhere else in the world, except this specific city that becomes its own character in every truly good story that takes place here.

Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue by Mark Kurlansky: Set in the late ’80s on the Lower East Side in 1988, this is the first book of any genre that truly captured the time and the place. Everything else has rung false.

The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow Into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle, by Edgardo Vega Yunque: Ed Vega is the most underrated talent I have ever encountered. This is a masterpiece and also chronicles (hilariously) the cultural collision that became the Lower East Side in the last 20 years.

Fairytale of New York, by J.P. Donleavy: This one takes it back a bit further, but nails something special. Call it the grandfather of the two aforementioned.

Last Exit to Brooklyn, by Hubert Selby Jr.: I’ve rarely experienced anything so dark and gruesome. It’s the New York City that even the people who lived through it don’t want to acknowledge.

Fortress of Solitude, by Jonathan Lethem: I nearly chose Motherless Brooklyn for this last pick, but FoS, better than any book I’ve read, shows the city as a potter’s wheel, shaping lumps of clay. It is nostalgic, but not particularly sentimental, and balances ludicrous with credible.