Monday, April 5, 2010

Espresso 77

After a rainy couple of weeks it's good to see some nice weather. It allows us to do some things we might not otherwise be able to do--chill out in Central Park, walk to a few places that we might normally take a cab or subway to. But one of the other phenomena that occur during nice weather is that we can actually get a table and be comfortable in one of our favorite local coffee shops, Espresso 77.
Espresso 77, for those who have never been, is a small coffee shop that also serves sandwiches, pastries, beer and wine. It's been around since late 2007 and is the only hip coffee shop in Jackson Heights as far as I can tell, and to top it all off, they make a mean latte. Often they'll put a little leaf design in the foam. On weekends they offer select pastries from an artisanal bakery called Cannelle Patisserie. Heather might kill someone if their standing between her and a lemon bar. There is a Starbucks a couple of blocks away, but there are Starbucks all over the place in New York. They also won't put a leaf in my latte. Espresso 77 is certainly holding it's own. I like the idea of going to a place that is unique and specific to the community it inhabits.
Espresso 77 prominently displays the work of local artists on its walls. Every couple of months or so a new artist will be featured and will have their works available for purchase. With every artist featured, free postcards are available promoting the artist and his or her work. Occasionally I'll just grab one, fill it out and mail it to someone I know. I like the idea of sending postcards when you're not on vacation. Who doesn't like getting a postcard? I would mostly just send them to my sister. With each one, I would comment on the tropical fruit themed stamp and include various coffee related puns like "thanks a latte," "do you have a lozenge? I'm feeling coffee," or "that's not your chiato, that's macchiato" and so on and so forth.
But when the winter months roll in and it's too cold to go to the park, all of the parents of small children flock to this confined space, strollers in tow. I can't get mad, nor do I have the desire to. The establishment even invites it by providing a basket full of children's books and toys to play with. Most of the children are well behaved, but it is a tiny place--voices carry and there's not a lot of room to run around. Every now and again we'll walk by and see that it looks more like a McDonald's play place than a coffee joint and just keep on walking. Heather sometime fantasizes about Espresso 77 purchasing the adjacent store, expanding their shop and adding more tables just so there's a little more space for these kids to exist.
The nice part about spring and summer coming along is that parents have more options for their children. And even those parents that do need their coffee fix can sip it outside if their kids are wired. There's a nice bench and an awning with more space and less resonance.
Each season has its own perks and drawbacks. Soon the big slab of concrete that we call Manhattan will bake in the sun and become hot enough to fry an egg on. And soon the subway platforms will become so muggy that we might jump on the wrong train just to enjoy the air conditioning. But in these dog days of summer coming our way, at least Heather and I can enjoy a little elbow room at a nice little coffee shop.

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