I have a confession to make. Today I cheated on Starbucks. Yes, I did make a carefully calculated stop at the coffee franchise on my way to work. However, while sipping my black Americano with four pumps sugar-free vanilla syrup, I received an alluring text from Adria, my favorite East Harlemite.
It read, “Best latte since my return to nyc [from oxford]: stumpton at ace hotel. Yum and right on 29th btw 5th/bdwy! I’ll be there till 1015 if you’re feeling adventurous.”
Unable to resist the urge to enjoy another cup of fine java, and intrigued by her use of the word “best,” I packed up my laptop and ventured uptown five blocks, hoping the trek and the experience would be worth the schlep.
What I encountered when I arrived was even more thrilling than I could have imagined in my already overly-caffeinated state. The minimalist design was– from an aesthetics perspective– quite alluring. And I was particularly intrigued by the random placement of taxidermal animals, which reminded me of my strange, but wondrous encounter with the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, or Hunting Museum in Paris. In said museum, animals of all varieties adorned the walls, floor, and in some disturbing cases, ceiling.
In addition to the noteworthy decor, the baristas all wore highly stylized uniforms. Resembling Brooklyn hipsters in suspenders and fedoras, they offered their assistance, making recommendations and filling orders gleefully. I was quite shocked- hipsters and happiness seem almost paradoxical, or antithetical to the hipster oath, “Thou shall not smile. If thou does, it will significantly undermine his or her status as ‘cool.'”
Needless to say the sights and smells consumed me. Overwhelmed by Stumptown’s possibilities, I prodded one adorably tattooed barista for recommendations. He asked, “On the spectrum of caffeine addiction, are you looking for a quick fix or a mild sensation?”
Before I could even answer the question, though, he knew. It was as if I had needle marks running down the length of my arms. I subsequently was given, and immensely enjoyed, the highly caffeinated beverage, which indeed did provide an instant upper and the motivation I needed to tackle the editorial jobs I was greeted with upon entering the office.
Leaving the coffee shop, I knew I was a changed woman. Not to say I would leave Starbucks permanently. The costs involved in that kind of divorce are more than my college student’s budget can handle. However, every coffee snob needs an occasional fling– especially at an establishment where they correctly document her real name (not her standard pseudonym– Liz, for those who are interested) on her beverage. Essentially, Stumptown had me at “Yaffa.”