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Love in Coffee Shops

Hopper Coffee

Falling in love—in coffee shops

image via Hopper Coffee, words by Michelle Babinsky

All you need is love and coffee.
— Unknown

This being the "week of love," or whatever, I wanted to share a post that is a little bit out of the ordinary for City Brewed. 

We all know my obvious obsession with all-things coffee, coffee shops, and cozy spaces. But the thing is, it's not just about the coffee. It's about life happening over coffee. It's about words, inspiration, laughter, ideas. Coffee, in all its grandeur, is so much more than just beans and latte art. 

So today, while the city indulges in chocolate and cupid fairy dust (is that a thing?) I'd love to introduce my friend Michelle Babinksy.

Michelle, an avid traveler, coffee drinker and beautiful writer, just happens to know a thing or two about love happening in coffee shops. Let her whisk you away with her words, and be sure to have a steaming cup of coffee on hand. Happy dreaming

Coffee shops. Coffee shops in New York City. Coffee shops in London. Coffee shops in Moscow. Why do we love them so much? What about coffee shops makes falling in love seem so easy?
Whenever I enter a coffee shop, the first thing I do is look around – take in the atmosphere, the décor, the menu, and, of course, the other patrons sitting around reading their newspapers and chatting with friends.
I pick up my light latte and its cute foamed heart makes me feel reluctant to take the first sip. And then I sit down and continue observing.
There’s something special about coffee shops – you know everyone is there for their daily caffeine boost, yet they all sit around patiently waiting for something more than a kick to the door of their office. I like to make eye contact with people just to see if they’ll hold my gaze, and once in a while, they do. On some special occasions, I’ve had complete strangers come join me at my table and start making small talk: Politics, art, this, and that.
We talk about everything because what coffee really does is foster expression. It’s as if drinking a cup of coffee across from a stranger is special enough to make me share my darkest secrets and my wildest dreams. I don’t know if it’s something in the beans, but I’ve met all of my boyfriends at coffee shops. And we all seem to have something in common when we’re in one; we’re all escaping the world and hiding in each other’s stories. It’s the one place you can go where it’s acceptable to be yourself. You have to be productive at work, fun at the club with your friends, and caring at home with your loved ones. But sometimes it’s great to just be free.
My first date with my boyfriend was at a coffee shop on Bond Street and there wasn’t a moment of silence. We were fueled by our espressos and consumed by our laughter. The whole world was a table, two chairs, two cups, and two saucers. And the freshly ground aroma just brought him closer and closer to me until I knew there was nowhere else I would rather be. We just were, and four hours flew by like a plastic bag in the wind. It’s a coffee shop that makes you feel whole again. 
Michelle Babinksy

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7 Must-Visit Coffee Shops During NYFW

Fashion week begins after coffee.

Do you want to know the worst part about New York Fashion Week? Desperately searching for an acceptable coffee shop in five inch heels. Yes, Starbucks on Broadway has proven to be a life saver more than once, but there have to be better options, am I right? 

Because I couldn't let you spend NYFW in a coffee-less stupor, I'm sharing some must-visit coffee shops around the city (conveniently located next to all those shows you'll be frequenting). 

Ready, set, caffeinate.

Upper West Side: Irving Farm Coffee Roasters 224 West 79th St.

Near Lincoln Center: Joe Coffee 
187 Columbus Avenue

Milk Studios: Blue Bottle Coffee 
450 West 15th St.

High Line Hotel: Intelligentsia Coffee
180 10th Ave 

Near Pier 59 Studios: Under Line Coffee
511 West 20th St.

Near The Hudson Mercantile: The Cafe Grind
477 Tenth Avenue

A day off in Noho: La Colombe
400 Lafayette Street


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Coffee Talk with Leif Huckman of Donna Cocktail Club

Donna Brooklyn 

Well dressed cocktails for a casual crowd.
— Leif Huckman, Donna Cocktail Club

Once upon a time on a cold day in Brooklyn, I stumbled into what would soon become my favorite spot in the area (yeah, sometimes I play favorites). I strolled (read, walked briskly—I don't actually stroll) from the J train past cafés, bakeries and boutiques, only to arrive at corner coffee shop-slash-bar, Donna. 

Walking in, it hit me (in a totally not as dramatic as it sounds way) that this is why I started City Brewed in the first place. To discover (and share!) some of the best sipping spots in NYC. It's places like Donna that make my excitement for the city renewed, and my need for an apartment makeover completely and utterly (...and unnecessarily) needed. From locally-made bakery goods (and candles!) to a walk up to-go coffee window, it felt like I had finally found my coffee shop spirit animal (I swear, I've never actually said that before).

Continue reading to meet the team behind Donna, and learn a bit more about your new favorite Saturday haunt. Don't say I didn't warn you.  

Donna: South Williamsburg

Donna: South Williamsburg

Name, Location, Occupation:

Leif Huckman; 27 Broadway; Owner, Donna Cocktail Club

Donna has become a community for “well dressed cocktails for a casual crowd.” Can you tell us a bit more about this idea?

We believe that you shouldn't have to put on a suit and tie and expect to drop your whole paycheck to get a well-made cocktail. Donna is a beautiful, elegant space that we want our guests to feel comfortable inside of, to get a value for their dollars spent, and most importantly to HAVE FUN!

Donna Daytime is a recent addition. Can you tell us about the scene at Donna on a Saturday morning or afternoon?

Creatives working on laptops enjoying our generous top ups of brewed coffee, a mom who home-schools her children and orders them a pastry while she enjoys her tea and goes over a recent lesson, and a group of guys whose jaws drop when they find out that for $15 they can get two tacos, a coffee and cocktail for brunch. Daytime is wonderfully diverse, and the environment is so lovely and inviting in the sunshine. 

Cocktails on tap?! Tell us what to expect, and how this concept works.

We were interested in finding a way to get around two of the most common complaints from the newbies to a cocktail bar: 1. It takes too long to get a drink. 2. They're too expensive! Cocktails on tap offered us a way to amplify the volume of drinks we could expect out of our expert bar keeps while controlling the quality by batching them ahead of time, and in doing so being able to offer those drinks at a lower price point. It's a total win-win and we are already seeing more of it all over town.  

I’m in serious need of some awesome Tacos. What should I order?

I'm really into the new Slow Roasted Chicken Taco, cooked in banana leaf with just the right amount of Chipotle spice. And the marinated Basa fish taco is full of flavor with a lovely crunch from house-pickled cabbage.

The coffee is (obviously) one of my favorite aspects of Donna. Can you tell us a bit about the coffee and espresso beans you’re brewing?

We use Café Integral Coffee, a company started by our friend Cesar Vega. Cesar, native to Nicaragua (next door to my mother's homeland of Honduras) sourced the best expressions of Nicaraguan coffee beans and created relationships with the farmers to support and hone their craft so he could share it abroad. The coffee is roasted locally, delivered fresh and (we think) tastes superior. 

You’re all about bringing coffee and lifestyle full circle. How are you making this happen?

I believe that we are never really selling food and beverage in the service industry, we are selling an experience. The product and it's quality is an important aspect of that experience, but the most important thing is the way you feel once you walk in the door. Our space, the coffee, the cocktails, the tacos are all supplemental to the goal of creating a unique meeting place for our friends and neighbors that feels inviting, comfortable and transportive.

Most importantly, what’s your coffee order?

I have learned to love the Cortado. Just the right amount of milk against the rich espresso, it's the perfect start to the day. 

Visit Donna at 27 Broadway in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Donna Brooklyn x City Brewed
Donna Brooklyn
Donna Brooklyn
Donna Brooklyn x City Brewed
Donna Brooklyn
Donna Brooklyn
Donna Brooklyn

Donna from BKLNYC on Vimeo.

In 2013, Donna suffered a devastating fire that destroyed the space. Watch a timelapse above as they rebuilt and came back even stronger. 

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