What did I do on my visit to NYC? Spent almost nine hours in a coffee shop, of course!

The Art of Making Exquisite Coffee

Most people travel to New York City to stroll in Central Park, visit Wall Street, glimpse the Statue of Liberty, gawk at the Empire State Building, admire paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, catch a Broadway play near Times Square.

If you were reading my blog hoping to visit these tourist spots, I deeply apologize.  Two years ago, on a similar trip to NYC, Kiah treated me to a more traditional tour.  You can click here and scroll through the following days in 2009 to enjoy more usual Manhattan sights.

Or you can continue reading this blog to witness a more untraditional day in the City.

First, you measure to the gram. Don't go one gram over!

Kiah’s latest job has been managing a coffee shop in Manhattan called Birch Coffee.  Yesterday was her last day.  She’s headed for Europe with her boyfriend in July, followed by a few weeks back home in the Upper Peninsula.  She’s off to experience many new adventures.

I’ve heard lots about the coffee shop in the last couple of years.  I wanted to visit; sip a latte made with love by my daughter. 

You must pick a perfect coffee shop, such as Birch Coffee in NYC.

Unfortunately, she needed to arrive at the shop by 7 a.m.  Unfortunately, Mama didn’t feel confident navigating the subway between Queens and Manhattan without getting lost later in the day.  (Also Mama wanted to experience the feeling of her whole shift.  Mama didn’t want to just be a coffee-taster-passing-through.  She wanted to experience a slice of her daughter’s life.)

Therefore, we rose at 5:15 a.m.  Walked semi-deserted streets toward the subway.  Zoomed overground and underground toward 5 East 27th Street.

Dialing in the espresso (coffee lingo,folks)

Kiah explained that she would be busy and couldn’t entertain me.  That was fine & dandy.  I didn’t need entertaining.  The coffee shop features a “Library” upstairs where patrons can sip their cappuccinos and lattes and espressos while reading or talking on cell phones or hangin’ out with their computers.

Choose your cup size thoughtfully.

It took Kiah over an hour to set up the shop.  I helped a tiny bit.  You know, took chairs off the tables and measured some coffee beans.  She told me I couldn’t have my first cuppa java until after 8 a.m.  Fine. 

Here you go! Your perfect latte with a rosetta atop.

And–happily–just after 8 a.m.–my barrista delivered a lovely cup complete with a rosetta.  (I didn’t know it was called a rosetta until this morning.  I thought it was a leaf.  But now I’m savvy.)

Would you like a glass of wine, instead? A sandwich? A delicious salad?

Fortunately, I had a good book to read.  It was called “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle” by Haruki Murakami.  The book belongs to said barrista, the daughter.  It is a fascinating book.  You can’t even begin to describe it to anyone.  Yet, it’s strangely fascinating.  As the back cover elaborates:  “…which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.” 

You are continually being amazed by the turns and twists of Murakami’s writing.  The book could keep you occupied for three days in a coffee shop.

Zen ambiance with bamboo

My blogging and Facebook friend, Jeff, had offered to drive into the City to meet me–imagine!  I suggested the Coffee Shop between 10 and 11 a.m.  (We had never met one another in person.) 

And soon–my cell rang.  He was in the Gershwin Hotel–in the lobby.  That is only sixteen steps away!  I scurry downstairs.  And there he is!  I recognize his face from his Facebook picture.  And he must recognize me because suddenly we are hugging and hello, hello, would you like to come upstairs and have some coffee?  But first, over here, come meet my daughter!  And then Hello Kiah, Hello Jeff, what would you like to drink?

Whistles? Apparently Birch Coffee supports the Falling Whistles campaign--a campaign for peace in the Congo.

Jeff and I became better acquainted in the next three hours, learning bits and pieces about one another’s lives.  Have you ever met an Internet friend in person?  I am always amazed to discover that Internet friends have physical bodies. It is a little disconcerting for the first few minutes.  (I feel this way upon seeing my children again, too.  Bodies!  They have bodies!  They are not all spirit and feelings and words.  They have faces and hands and feet.)

Meet a friend for coffee...

We took a stroll down to the park where a HUGE NEW YORK BARBECUE was taking place in sprinkling rain showers.  The smell of roasting beasts permeated the park, but we lunched on salads from a cafeteria-style restaurant around the counter.  Although we could have eaten at Birch Coffee.  We talked a lot about our common interest–photography.  Although he likes photography for its own sake.  I like photography for how it illustrates stories.

Birch Coffee

Too soon Jeff said goodbye.  Goodbye, Kathy.  Goodbye, Jeff.  Until we meet again!  It’s been nice getting to know you.  Travel safely back home.

Kiah said, “I’m not ready to go yet” even though it was 45 minutes after her shift ended (she is one of the most conscientious workers I know, no kidding, and I’m not just saying that as her mom) so upstairs I traipsed again.  By then my legs were starting to ache fiercely from the Power Yoga session the previous night and I was silently cursing the millions of steps in NYC and wondering how to garner the strength to walk one single more step, let alone ten minutes to the subway and then twenty minutes “home” to Queens.

Birch Coffee--in the Gershwin Hotel building

And finally, after I had two more chats with an Alabama doctoral student originally from Taiwan and a girl from Manhattan who had never left home because she loves her family so much–Kiah appeared perhaps a bit misty-eyed from her last shift at the coffee shop–and we said goodbye to her replacement, a smiling Sam whose mother and sister were also visiting the City–and off we trotted toward the subway with aching yoga-muscles, dreaming of the Greek Pizza we would eat many hours later after a refreshing nap.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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50 Responses to What did I do on my visit to NYC? Spent almost nine hours in a coffee shop, of course!

  1. holessence says:

    Oh how FUN, and you got to meet JEFF too — icing on the cake! By the way, I’m on a caffeine buzz just reading this post 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Sorry to give you that caffeine buzz, Laurie! Next time let’s have decaff or just tea. It was fun to meet Jeff. He has a great sense of humor.

  2. georgia mom says:

    Wish I had known about the whistle project before Kiah made her exit. Dad has been seeking something like that to keep the deer away from his tomato plant!!. Think everyone knows Jeff on the Blog. Nice that you met him. Kiah’s coffee drink must have tasted delicious, so elegantly presented. Thanks for sharing your trip. Mom

    • Kathy says:

      Georgia mom, I know you like to follow our trip escapades. You can’t imagine how much walking we’ve been doing! My legs ache like crazy. The whistles sound like a good way of keeping the deer away from the tomatoes. The coffee was delcious–all three cups of it–during that day.

  3. Carla says:

    Yay, you met Jeff! When I am in NYC for longer than 21 hours, I’ll call him! So happy Kiah had her great experience in the city and is now off to amazing new adventures. I do love meeting online friends in person. Now that I have visited all the states, I like to count how many online friends I have met in person.

    • Kathy says:

      Carla, that’s a great idea–counting on-line friends we meet in person! I have met a lot, too, just like you. Last time Kiah and I went to Europe we met Victoria and Lucienne, do you remember? And Kiah went sailing with Victoria’s son Fenn in the Mediterranean…sigh…such good memories. You should definitely look up Jeff. I think we mentioned you!

  4. Wow….sounds like a florins day. I love the shot of the Rosetta….look s like a heaven filled cup….

    Have a great day..
    Safe travels….

    P.S

    Stop in Chicago sometime….I am sure myself and Laurie will drop everything to visit..

    • Kathy says:

      Kim, I have LOVED visiting Chicago in years past!! Haven’t been there in 4-5 years, though (oh, except the airport) when I did a Voice Dialogue workshop and then drove to see a friend in Iowa. It was great fun. So perhaps we will all meet one of these years! It would be a blast. 🙂

  5. I meant to say Glorious day….spell check is crazy sometimes

  6. Susan D says:

    Awww, so bittersweet leaving a job … Kiah on to new adventures and experiences. Best wishes, Kathy’s Bebs! What a lovely coffee shop, managed with such care and love. Delightful descriptions of the “hot” sizes of cups one can get. Glad you got to meet Jeff. I’m sure the space around you was buzzing with happiness and sharing. Hoping that you got some good rest after the Greek pizza supper, and that travels home will be smooth and soft.

    • Kathy says:

      Good morning, Susan D. Thank you–as always–for your lovely words. So true. I am sitting here in her apartment now–she’s still snoozin’–and we’ll leave for the airport in two hours. Off to fly the Friendly Skies aimed for the woods. It feels bittersweet–so many mixed feelings–hard to say goodbye–but happy to return home. It’s good that she’ll be back home later on this summer.

  7. Susan Derozier says:

    Kathy – I have not responded to these incredible blogs because I am at a loss for words. What a beautiful tribute to your daughter and to every mother and her daughters. I’m excited for Kiah for the new adventures awaiting her, and I’m misty at the mom who has to leave those “real” hands, feet and legs. Your gift for making your entire trip physical to me is beyond my understanding. One evening after reading your blog I found myself in bed picturing your gorgeous colorful vegetable stand. Another time I was distracted by the beautiful picture of your daughter with flowing hair looking out at the waves. Today my legs are aching from your long walks and steep stairs but my tummy is warmed by your beautiful cup of delight. Thank you again for taking me beyond my walls to wondrous places and people! Travel safe!

    • Kathy says:

      Susan, you are a Blog Writer’s best friend. You always say things that tug at my heart and want me to get on my knees and thank you! If but one person reacts like you to these blogs~~it feels so satisfying. I am glad to share this trip with you. Hoping YOUR legs aren’t aching too much this morning, lol! We’re getting on one last bus in a couple of hours and heading toward the airport. Smile…see you soon!

  8. Dawn says:

    What a wonderful day at work you had!

    🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, it was fun to see Kiah in her work environment. I was in awe at her efficiency and organization. She really cares about that place!

  9. Fountainpen says:

    Kathy, did you spend a little time at Ground Zero?
    I was there for four deployments.

    Fountainpen

    • Kathy says:

      Fountainpen, we spent time at Ground Zero last trip. It was so sad to be there, and to remember 911. I am glad you were there for four deployments. I admire your helping spirit so much!

  10. This is perfect, as I’m sitting at my desk right now, with a delicious cup of coffee 🙂
    What?? You were in NYC two years ago? So were we!! I remember lots and lots of walking! I don’t think I’ve EVER walked this much in my life! Who knows, maybe we passed by each other and didn’t know we were going to meet on our blogs two years later 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Micheala, isn’t it odd to think we may have sat on the subway across from one another? That we may have passed on the sidewalk? There are so many people here…it is crazy. As for walking sooooo much, oh dear friend, my legs ache SO MUCH! It started with the Power Yoga session and hasn’t really calmed down yet. OK, maybe it’s getting better this morning. I feel like my muscles are finally getting used to these fast-paced multi-miled days. And now it’s time to go home. I am glad you understand about the walking challenges!

  11. barb says:

    I want Kiah to make me a Rosetta, too. I always get my coffee to go – maybe I’ll ask if I could have a real cup with a Rosetta. If I do, I’ll take a photo and show you, Kathy! I HAVE met Blog friends, and I”m happy to say we’ve enjoyed each other, just as we do on our Blogs. We share a fair amount of ourselves on the Blogs, so meeting in person is just an extension of that. Also, I sometimes post photos of myself so that people won’t expect more than they get!

    • Kathy says:

      Exactly, Barb! I know what you mean. I make sure to post photos for that reason sometimes, too. What you see is what you get. And when I saw Jeff, I knew immediately it was him. I am glad you are another blogger who likes to meet fellow bloggers~~because, one of these days, I am sure to come to Colorado or you will visit your friend in the Keweenaw again. Can’t you just feel that it’s going to happen one of these days? (As for tracking Kiah down to make you a rosetta–can’t say about that. Who knows where she’ll end up next?)

  12. Colleen says:

    Kathy, I’m happy for Kiah. And excited for her and for you. It’s an amazing experience, watching our children’s lives unfold. So many possibilities. And the knowing that we are a part of these possibilities……..

    What a gorgeous coffee shop. They’re one of my favorite places to spend time, home or away.
    It sounds (and looks) like Kiah has a beautiful way with coffee. It’s definately an art, in it’s own right.

    It sounds as if you’ve had an event-filled week. In many ways. And on top of it all, you got to meet Jeff 🙂

    Thank you for sharing all of this. It’s been a delight!

    XXOO

    • Kathy says:

      Colleen, it has been such a good time. A jam-packed happy eventful sore-muscled week. It’s been good. Watching Kiah explore life has been a delight–OK, sometimes other emotions, too–but I cherish the experience of seeing where her path(s) may take her. Christopher, too. I know it’s the same with your boys. Thanks for the accompaniament on this trip. You are such a treasure!

  13. Dad says:

    Kath—-Wish I could have been there to have a LATTE with you!!!! Dad

    • Kathy says:

      Dad, you and I have a history of sipping coffee together at special places, don’t we? You would have loved to see Kiah’s shop. I’ll bet you would have ordered a cappucino instead of a latte!!

  14. john says:

    “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast”. ~ Hemingway

    I think Europe is an essential component in a well rounded life and “if you are lucky enough” to experience Europe as a young person “then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you”. Kiah is a wise person to return to Europe, to make it the right bookend for this set of stories in her life, to return and start fresh on the next shelf. I will say a prayer that she travels safely, she takes the side roads, she drinks in life as wonderfully as she serves up latte and fills her mind and her soul with all that Europe has to offer. Kiah is an even wiser person to come back to her roots, to make that the left bookend, before she sets out in a new direction, filling the next shelf with new stories. She is blessed to have parents like you, who listen as well as mentor, are there for support and encouragement without strings.

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, John, for your wise words and prayers for safety. I feel a little more comfortable this time that she’ll be traveling with another person. Last time she was wandering alone most of the time! (That is challenging for parents, ohmygoodness.) Yet you are right–an experience like this is one to cherish and to carry with one into future years. I think part of my own spiritual growth has involved learning to walk that fine line of supporting, mentoring and encouraging without strings. It is not always easy to do that. Sometimes I “fail” mightily, but other times, well, it just sorta does seem to work. Bless YOU, John!

  15. jeffstroud says:

    Kathy,

    It was so great to meet you and spend part of our day together… I saw this the day you posted it but I was still catching up with myself, reenergizing from the long day up to NYC and back, getting a little lost trying to get back to Chinatown to the bus back to Philly!
    It was great meeting Kiah, if only for a shot moment, the coffee shop is great and was busy most of the time we where there! Means they do something right!
    I am glad we didn’t “tour” the city and kept our day simple, gave us time to chat, enjoy our coffees, and salads, as well as our time in the park photographing and people watching!
    I hope we get to do it again soon!

    • Kathy says:

      Jeff, thank you so much for coming to the city to meet me! I saw this when you posted the comment, too, but was busy getting ready to leave NYC headed back to the woods. It was a special time we had together, wasn’t it? It was good to meet and to get to know one another a little better. It was wonderful that we could enjoy the simplicity of simply sitting together, chatting, sipping coffee and visiting the park. Perhaps the next time we meet may be Philadelpia–who knows what Life might offer next?

  16. Marianne says:

    Wow, sounds like an interesting day in NYC, Kathy. I’d take a day like that. I love coffee shops.

    • Kathy says:

      Marianne, just think of the miracles we could talk about if we were to sit together in a coffee shop for a few hours! I am smiling just thinking about it.

      • Marianne says:

        That would be fun, Kathy. By the way, I’m taking guest posts for my miracle blog, so anytime you’re ready, I would love to have a submission.

        • Kathy says:

          Thank you, Marianne. Thinking about miracles right now and wondering whether there is a story or two that I might share? If one pops into consciousness, I will let you know. Thank you again for asking. I love your new blog.

  17. Brenda Hardie says:

    Hi Kathy! Gosh it sounds like you had a very enjoyable trip! Even though it was exhausting with all that walking and with the power yoga. I think the coffee shop looks like a pleasant place to visit and your daughter makes a very pretty cup of coffee! I hope she has safe and adventure filled travels and I hope you arrive home safe and sound too. Maybe Barry will massage your aching muscles 🙂 I spent 2 years living in Baltimore but never got up to NYC so thank you for sharing your trip with us! Now I need to read about the other adventures you had there!

    • Kathy says:

      Brenda, thanks for your sweet muscles. I am back safe & sound (since last evening) and already the muscle aches are gone. (But Barry has a back-ache, poor fella. We are going out to the garden to re-plant some tomatoes in a few minutes. I suspect I’ll be the planter and he’ll be the director.) Glad you enjoyed reading about the NYC adventures. We had more, but didn’t manage to find the time to post TOO many blogs. Hope YOU had a great birthday, birthday girl!

      • Brenda Hardie says:

        Thank you Kathy, I did have a great birthday! My sister and her hubby had a party for me…Mark (my sister’s hubby) had the smoker going with ribs, and we had a big bonfire and lots of friends to share the time. We sat around the fire and enjoyed the moon and stars and each other. It was wonderful!
        I’m sorry Barry has a sore back…boy I remember my Dad suffering with terrible backaches…he used to only get relief while lying on the floor.
        Oh shoot…I better go, it’s storming pretty bad…better shut down the computer. Have a great night my sweet friend! Welcome Home!

  18. Kathy I love that you and Jeff were able to have a long visit but I laughed and laughed at you comment: “Have you ever met an Internet friend in person? I am always amazed to discover that Internet friends have physical bodies.” I too have met online friends in person and it seems like it takes a bit before my made up voice and body for the person catches up with the physical being in front of me. It is kind of like seeing a film of a book you loved and deciding that they got the main character all wrong because that is not how they looked or sounded to when you read the book. Great post.

    • Kathy says:

      Terrill, I am so delighted that you know exactly what I mean. Who ARE these people who don’t exactly correspond with the image we’ve created? lol…and then we have to step back for a moment and see who they truly are without the addition of our creative imagination. Or something like that. It really makes me happy to hear that someone else feels this way.

  19. Barbara says:

    Kathy, you cracked me up with this sentence: “The smell of roasting beasts permeated the park.” I’m still chuckling! 🙂

    How wonderful you got to spend so much time with Kiah and got to meet Jeff, too! Someday I hope I can meet both of you! Hopefully we won’t be too startled by the physical bodies, or the voices. Did Jeff sound like you imagined he would?

    Larisa is moving to New York on July 2. I wonder what visiting her will be like – I’ll probably come home with aching legs, too!

    • Kathy says:

      Chuckling with you, Barbara! You should have seen the smoke rising from those roasting beasts. lol… You know, Jeff did sound like I thought he would. I hadn’t anticipated his lively sense of humor, so that was an added bonus. As for visiting Larisa–start your exercise regimine today. Walk five miles a day as fast as you can until you visit her later in the summer. Then, just maybe, you won’t come home with aching legs! 🙂

      • Barbara says:

        Oh my, I guess I better get moving an build up my stamina! Three miles at a moderate pace is about as far as I can comfortably go these days… Better plan my visit in the fall when it’s not as hot either! Roasting beasts – I got a vivid mental picture of some kind of medieval encampment in the park…

  20. A visit that marks another passage of time as your daughter embarks on her next adventure. It is special when you can witness the end and the beginning all at once. Cheers.

    • Kathy says:

      Jane, I have been thinking a lot lately about the passage of time, and the different seasons of our lives. This was a precious visit, indeed. Thank you.

  21. Robin says:

    This sounds like such a wonder-filled day! I’m glad I decided to catch up with you rather than move on to newer posts. 🙂

    Isn’t Murakami amazing? I love his books. A friend introduced me to his books a few years ago, starting with Norwegian Wood (and I always, ALWAYS, end up humming the Beatles song when thinking about the book).

    • Kathy says:

      It was a lovely day, Robin. Thank you! I had never heard of Murakami until NYC and am now entranced, in love, in-spired by his work! The Wind Up Bird Chronicle completely shifted me into a dreaming-flowing state. As Kiah said–it’s hard to describe what the book is about. But we both were changed by it. Well, maybe Kiah wasn’t changed by it, but she loved it and so did I. Will have to see what the Norwegian Wood is about. thanks, Robin.

  22. Kathy says:

    Robin, I just ordered the book! Thanks for the suggestion.

  23. Kel says:

    Kathy you are a superb storyteller. Felt like I was right there with you in NYC smelling the fresh coffee!
    I also like your take on a photo being a good story illustrator. One of my favourite parts of the magazine editor role I used to have was choosing the illustrations.

    • Kathy says:

      Kel, if you could smell that coffee you are a wonderful reader as well as appreciator of photos! Sounds like you are reading with all your senses. Thank you for visiting my blog. Hope we get to know one another better.

Although I don't reply to every comment on every blog, I do read all comments with mesmerized interest and try to return the favor by visiting YOUR blog or at least sending you heartfelt well wishes.

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