Cafe 474 – 474 4th Ave (between 11th St & 10th St), Brooklyn, NY
Cocoa Bar- 228 7th Ave (between 3rd Ave & 4th Ave), Brooklyn, NY
City within a borough within a city. I take the F from the shoebox-littered streets of Delancey and Essex and within fifteen minutes I’m above ground speeding across a land of evergreen and brownstone where children cry because their balloons are flying 250 feet above prospect park…
Parents gotta teach their kids to hold on to their balloons better.
I planned to meet my guy for a writing date. On these dates we don’t look at each other or speak to each other or even think about each other. Instead, we sit at different tables and every once in a while, peek to see if the other is actually working. I tried to wink at him once and he scoffed and so I never did it again.
He told me to meet him at Cafe 474 which is just off of the 4th Avenue and 9th Street Stop.
The sun is beaming and the exhaust is choking. Ah, Brooklyn.
I walk half a block towards some void in between 10th and 11th and walk on in. It’s empty and small. The tables are wood and the sofa is torn and sewed up and torn again. There’s a vacuum cleaner in the corner, artisan paintings of Paris that probably came from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and a giant pasty cabinet displaying all two rosemary and lilac scones. I really hate herbal-infused pastries.
If there are some things every person should know about New York City coffeeshops, it should be that:
1) always have cash on you.
2) never expect a place to have outlets. Or wifi. Or any kind of convenience at all.
So at cafe 474, I ask the lady if they take debit cards. The answer is of course no, which is all fair game. I suppose. She points me in the direction of a local bodega right across the street. I come back with a crisp twenty. She points out that they aren’t accepting twenties, only fives and tens. I ask her if she’s joking. She says ‘No, you’re in Brooklyn.’ I give her a look and she reluctantly gives me back a ten, and a five, and two ones.
I plop down and I sip as wait for my guy. Whenever he’s late he always blames the G train. “They call it the ‘ghost train'”.
I take out my power cord for my mac and look around.
And I look around.
I ask the misses if there are any power outlets in the cafe.
She smirks and nearly whispers ‘no’. She’s probably thinking I’ve been suckered into this place and now I can’t ever leave with my integrity. Either I could be an asshole and walk out without putting a dent in my coffee, or I could be an asshole by sitting there with my computer that’s charged 5% and sip away on some coffee, pretending I was ever there to drink it in the first place.
So, I suck it up. I figure 5% could last me until my guy comes, and then I can send him some shitty looks and pretend I have a stick up my ass up until he figures out that Cafe 474 isn’t working.
So I try to go online.
Shit doesn’t work.
I try. And I try again.
I ask the misses if the WiFi works.
“It should.” She disappears behind the pastry cabinet. If there was actually food inside of it I probably wouldn’t be able to see her.
I’m too disgusted to drink my coffee, too disgusted to look at my computer. This isn’t a coffeeshop. This is the devil.
So my guy comes in and I stare him down. “You brought me here.” I wish I could say. Instead, I hit him up with some passive-aggressive texts and I suggest that he should have some of the coffee.
He says no.
Deep down, I’m happy about it. The coffee is really quite delicious, and the mug it came in was absolutely charming. I’m secretly applauding 474. Secretly.
We leave and walk through town until coming to the Cocoa Bar.
Believe it or not… there are power outlets. And WiFi. There’s even more than 2 tables for people to sit at.
The color of the walls reminds me of French Vanilla and Nutmeg, or like Eggnog. ‘Restroom’ is written on the door with chalk. The flowers are dead. I can’t tell if it’s trying hard to not try at all, or if it’s really not trying and therefore exceeding all expectation- but I like it.
My guy got a Redeye and I fetched a white chocolate cranberry cookie. The crumble’s got a lot of oatmeal in it and the cranberry and white chocolate together is so sweet I could’ve screamed for some salt.
It’s calm. And it’s nice.
I realize I have first-world problems. I realize I’m a stubborn jack-off who probably should’ve charged my battery and been carrying a 5 or a 10 on me in my wallet regardless. I’m sure Cafe 474 would’ve been perfect should I have done that.
Instead I take out my mistakes on the damn coffeeshop and scoff at the hardwood floor I wish I could have laid out for me in my own apartment.
I’m okay with it so long as I can laugh about it. I’m okay with it so long as he is.