Deliciously smooth and luxurious coffee! Space can get very loud and crowded; price difference between hot and iced beverages is huge.
Number of visits: 2
2nd Ave. & 21st St.
First introduced by a friend, Pushcart Coffee was quite an unexpectedly charming find. From the outside, you probably wouldn't expect much at all from this modest and seemingly small coffee shop — as you can see, the storefront is well embedded into the building, making it hard to notice from afar — but my visit here was almost perfect.
Walking in (or wheeling in, rather. Har har har), there's not much that's striking about the place. The coffee bar is on your left, with tables and seats lined up on the right and a few more seats right by the windows in the front (perfect for people-watching :P).
The interior has a very minimalistic yet slightly rustic theme going on — nothing too special. Although, I did like the few pictures and illustrations they had hung on the walls: drawings, photographs and blueprints of old buildings in New York (I think, at least) that stood in the neighborhood of this location. I thought these wall-hangings were a very nice touch to give the place a little history and an overall charming and interesting vibe.
Inside. I should really learn how to take pictures better, huh ...
After a quick scan of the menu, I ordered an iced latte to stay as I had planned on not only trying this place out but also finishing the stupid book I'd been on for months (Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, for those wondering. It wasn't actually stupid, per se — just a bit disappointing and unanticipatedly boring). I got a small iced latte — for a whopping $4.25 — but because they didn't have any of the small glasses left, the barista gave it to me in a big glass, saying that she'll only fill it up halfway.
Iced latte, my bro Malcolm and Clazziquai
This thing was massive. I mean, obviously, I appreciate the extra coffee, and I'm definitely not complaining about that, but this drink was strong. As someone already quite sensitive to caffeine, I was pretty jittery from this drink for the next 10 hours or so (seriously, I was up until 4:30 a.m. this night). So, if you're weak-sauce to caffeine like I am, be mindful of what you're ordering and the time of day when you order.
BUT THIS LATTE, THOUGH. My goodness, I immediately fell in love after the first sip (love at first sip?). Albeit very strong, this classic espresso drink was very smooth, slightly earthy and overall beautiful. I did add a little more milk into mine in order to slow down my caffeine intake, but for coffee-lovers, especially those who enjoy the bitterness and earthy flavor of espresso, this drink will totally hit the spot. With the perfect ice to coffee ratio, Pushcart's iced latte wasn't bad at all.
The only complaint (OK, two complaints) I have for Pushcart is that because of the semi-tight space, the noise level was inevitably loud. ...I probably sound like some grandma complaining about all the places being too loud, but this spot was actually REALLY loud. On top of the unavoidable noises of people talking and machines whirring were the piercing sounds of babies crying and kids screaming. I'm usually good with blocking out the noise around me with my iPod — which is a must-have for me when I'm reading or doing work — but because everybody was so close to each other, it was even harder to concentrate on my boring book.
Another thing that bothered me about this place is that the difference in prices between iced and hot drinks were huge! I know iced drinks tend to be more expensive in coffee shops due to the extra operational costs of making them (which I finally learned, after years of wondering, from this article in The Atlantic), but they were over a $1 more than their hot counterparts. That seemed a bit excessive to me, almost leading me to just get a hot drink. I guess I can't complain too much since I liked the latte so much, but the big price jump seemed unnecessary to me.
And to end this post on a more positive note, here's a small detail about the place that I really liked:
I WANT THIS.
Look at this outlet man! :D I'd never seen anything like it, so I had to snipe a pic. The mere fact that Pushcart had outlets available for its customers made me happy (because most Starbucks and other big coffee chains in Manhattan refuse to install them in order to avoid loiterers), but that they also provided them in such a clever and cute way made me even happier. I think little things like this goes to show how much the business values its customers.
And one more pro for Pushcart: They had (and maybe brew sometimes) Stumptown's coffee! Having Stumptown, which is well-known for having the best coffee in New York — and I agree — is always a plus.
Pushcart merchandise, Stumptown coffee and cute (messy?) doodles and notes
If you're ever in the area of either locations (there's another one in LES), definitely give their latte a try. I'll have to try their hot drinks sometime when the city decides to stop being a massive sauna.