It’s taken a few weeks and a whole lot of caffeine, but the winner of The Place You’re Most Likely to Find Me Sipping a Coffee While Freelancing is….Why Not Coffee on Christopher Street just off Gay Street in the West Village.
Yesterday was my first day there, but I know I’m going to be a repeat offender. I’m all about atmosphere and details and this place has both tenfold: Wide, nearly floor-to-ceiling windows that open out to the cobblestoned street; ridiculous treats from macaroons to raspberry croissants(!); Blue Bottle coffee; several milk options (1%, 2%, half-n-half, whole); brown sugar AND simple syrup; mugs that look like they’ve come straight from the Chichicastenango market in Guatemala; and great tune-age from Bob Marley to Bon Iver.
It didn’t exist prior to my deciding to go freelance. Though, I have to admit, part of the allure of freelancing for me sorta stemmed from a desire to sit in coffee shops just like this one, among other creatives, letting the juices flow for hours on end with “Skinny Love” playing in the background.
While I am easily distracted, and do sorta feel it’s silly to spend money on coffee when I have an awesome Nespresso machine at home, I crave a bit of social interaction during the day, even if it’s just asking for the WiFi code. Plus, it’s summer and I live in a fifth floor walk-up. It gets hot up in there.
Before I finally happened upon Why Not, I’d been bouncing around the ‘hood trying different spots. I sat at Grounded on Jane, which I like for its cavernous, kitschy vibe. It’s a serious work haven where freelancers of all kind sit among potted plants and brightly painted walls. One day, I sat next to writer/author Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Blink, etc) and the book-writer nerd in me was giddy and totally inspired. (Side note, I saw him at the gym again a few days later.)
I also hit up O Café on Sixth Ave. and W.12th, which has a lovely (if a bit uneven) wooden farm table from which to type. The WiFi was wonky, though, and I couldn’t quite get comfortable.
There’s Joe’s on Waverly, which never has a seat and feels more like a spot for meetings or dates as opposed to lone soldier freelancers. Great coffee, though.
S’nice is, well, nice. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) But it’s a bit dark, loud and they restrict the tables you can use with computers. It also seems like more of a group gathering spot. Plus, the day I was there they burned something in the kitchen and I left having to immediately wash my hair.
Oh, I sat in Think Coffee a few times, too. Their A/C is no joke, which was great during that one crazy hot week. But it was dark. (Are you sensing a trend here?)
And I wish I could sit at Jack’s, with its exposed brick walls, red wood floors, framed photos and notes from regulars and mirrored wall-art with the phrase, “I’m almost not crazy!” but it’s just too tiny in there. I need to spread out.
That said, none of these places really have ample leg or elbow room. People are constantly crossing wires and stepping around each other for a leg-stretch or bathroom break. In fact, at Why Not, the bolted-to-the-ground wooden tables are so small I started off with my pastry on the table next to mine. Then a cute guy came in looking around for where to sit and I moved it. (Obviously.)
What’s that, you say? A cute guy? Yes, though this did not evolve into an evening date and river stroll as it did with Cute English Breakfast Guy in London. But the good news is: there’s potential! And instead of fried toast, beans and sausage, these cute guys like raisin pastries and black coffee followed by orange juice with ice. And the plethora of them at this lovely little corner cafe has absolutely nothing to do with why I plan to go back again. To do work, of course, to do work.