Tag Archives: coffee bar

Sightglass Coffee, Pour One

Apartment hunting in New York City is the absolute worst. I’d rather watch white paint dry on a wall than go through the frustrating and stressful process that defines Gotham shoebox searching.

In this city, you walk into a place, you want it, you sign on the dot on the spot. Contracts move lightning fast — you better know how to deal or game over son.

I remember last year as I was going through “the process” my blood pressure would skyrocket every Saturday afternoon. It was the kind of jolt that only comes from slamming many shots of espresso before getting punched in the stomach.

Every apartment I toured seemed smaller and smaller and yet more and more expensive. That’s funny slash not really.

In normalville, for my amount of rent, I could have a pimp house with stainless steel appliances, a washer and dryer and a garage safekeeping a dope car. Reality slaps all of that I realize as I’m out of breath from climbing three flights of stairs daily and question where the heck I’m living.

“You should move to Brooklyn,” says my brother.  You’re funny, Cass, slash soooo right.

C’est la vie. I understand why Manhattan adults still have roommates of the non-marriage variety. There exists a double-edged sword.

The city is crazy intense. Naturally, one can appreciate a shoebox space because it’s yours. Do what you want, when you want.

If you want to throw your laundry all over your living room / bedroom / kitchen, you can do that. Ain’t no one gonna tell you to pick it up.

If you want to leave the dishes in the sink for days, you can do that. Ain’t no one gonna tell you to clean it up.

If you want to jam your esoteric music, you will do that. Ain’t no one gonna tell you to turn it down.

And if you want to stand in your kitchen eating grape jelly on saltine crackers while reading Vogue, yeah, you can pull a Carry Bradshaw and no one will judge because you’re the boss.

I actually don’t do any of the above (I prefer strawberry jam…kidding). But the point is if I want to I can. That’s the beauty of living solo — you can be wildly inconsiderate and the only person you bother is yourself.

So if I want to grind my coffee at 6 a.m., I will because I like the noise, and I’m not concerned with waking anyone up but my incessantly sleep-deprived self.

Lately, the best part of waking up is Owl’s Howl in my cup.

The coffee is from San Francisco-based Sightglass, and the company is absolutely on point with this espresso. It’s flavored with notes of butterscotch, mango, honey and chocolate-covered cherries. Word.

The unexpected marriage has a subtle degree of sweetness and tastes surprisingly light and buttery. It makes waking up early in a shoebox apartment a far more pleasurable experience.

And if you have the opportunity to scope out Sightglass in person, go, go, go. The spot is mad cool. It’s like the ultimate independent coffeehouse on roids — two stories tall, a bar at the front and piles of coffee beans sealed in burlap bags all over the space. It made me foam at the mouth. Just kidding (or am I?).

Part deux to come.

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Sweet Relief for Sweetleaf

View of Manhattan from the Williamsburg waterfront.

This Uptown girl has recently developed a compulsive affection for Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I seem to venture here as though I’m a resident. True story.

Let’s start with the Flea Market, an urban oasis situated south of East River State Park between North 6th and 7th. The hip bazaar offers vintage, handmade and antique goods, ranging from art, clothing, jewelry, postcards, soaps, and even rustic picture frames (and this is far from random).

Don’t even bother wearing a watch. Fact: you will spend an ample amount of time here, during which you can feast on artisan foods along the east perimeter. Deluxe delicatessen Mile End—yes. Crafty confections from Kumquat Cupcakery —yes. The dangerous-and-necessary Milk Truck Grilled Cheese —why, yes. All you have to do is forget the meaning of calories and unforgivingly dive in.

Or, if you’re a health nut, don’t live a little and just steer yourself to the sliced mango and watermelon stand.

Arrive via the East River Ferry on 34th street, a welcoming alternative to playing a forced game of standing Twister on the L train.

Williamsburg reason deux. I’ve fallen for the grilled kale Caesar salad at Isa. I immediately know what you’re thinking: you’re the health nut who doesn’t live a little. This is not true.

The creation is one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten in New York. It competes with Print’s heirloom tomato offering married with opal basil, feta and champagne vinaigrette; also in the running, Café Mogador’s plated Greek garden, which is delicately dressed with the right amount of tahini and Israeli spices.

Back to Isa, the kale is charred, producing a smoky flavor that’s complemented with a simple Caesar dressing, emphasis on the lemon and salt (I’m convinced it’s pinched with an extra something special). Really, it’s that simple — and easy to devour without regret.

Alright, thanks for reading this far. The big reason I love Williamsburg is for all the amazing coffee houses on offer, Sweetleaf in particular.

Draw yourself to the corner of Kent Avenue and North 6th street, where “Sweetleaf Espresso Bar” stares in white paint stamped along the bottom of the entrance.

Sweetleaf Espresso Bar

Sweetleaf Espresso Bar

Inside, the décor immediately consumes your senses. From the flooring, oversized chairs, small round two-tops and wood trim — everything is espresso-colored. It’s not overwhelming though, more like mesmerizing and comfortable.

Behind the barista bar large white bags of Ritual coffee are shelved out of reach. Not to worry. Purchase the beans, along with Stumptown coffees, upfront alongside vegan and gluten-free goods made in-house. If you like cinnamon and nutmeg, go for the carrot cookie.

My drink of choice: Iced Rocket Fuel, a concoction of cold brew fused with chicory, an herb especially popular in New Orleans-style coffee. The bev also includes maple syrup.

Sweetleaf Rocket Fuel

Sweetleaf’s Iced Rocket Fuel

Initially, I was skeptical, but that lasted for a spell, broken as soon as the sweet and creamy combo flowed down my throat like a river of caffeine and unprocessed sugar.

The order immediately warrants a punch card because you’ll definitely be thirsty for more.


Stumptown: Serving Coffee…and Much, Much More

Stumptown's Downtown Cafe, Portland

December 5, 6:30 a.m. Like clockwork, I popped out of bed. It wasn’t a workday. It was a Sunday. I know what you’re thinking. Who awakes at such a peaceful hour on the weekend? Well, this Sunday was unlike most. Back in Portland after an 11-month hiatus, I was particularly anxious about one thing: Stumptown Coffee.

Much to my convenience, there were five locations (five!) that allowed me to feed my frenzy. I opted for the downtown hotspot, 0.3 miles from my home for the weekend, Hotel Lucia. The five-minute walk brought me to 123 3rd Ave., where I ventured inside as if on a mission. I headed straight to the display of aromatically inviting coffee beans. Unsurprisingly, my blend of choice: Hair Bender, which I mentioned my love for in the first post. Did I look like a kid in a candy store as I approached the register? Absolutely.

I added a café au lait to my order and proceeded to wander, absorbing every detail around so I could tattoo the memory of the modish room. A generous selection of magazines neatly racked near the entrance, high ceilings, lots of natural light, minimalist art, eggshell-white walls opposite a large, rustic brick wall, long benches coupled with wood tables and chairs, a perfectly aligned row of silver stools greeted a large coffee counter, and near it, a record player occupied upbeat indie spins. When I glanced behind the counter, I noticed a slight peculiarity. Along with the plethora of coffee…Stella Artois.

Yep. This Stumptown coffee bar is literally a bar, serving a selection of Belgian beers and bottles of wine. Had it been later, I would have had a different kind of Happy Hour. I’m certain it’s plenty decent—a DJ spins in a corner booth. Sure, it’s an atypical coffee experience, but that’s quirky Portland for you.