I am a fan of Starbucks beverage and food, but not a fan of their crowded space. So, when they opened an upscale shop called the “Reserve” where they offer specialty coffee line also named the Reserve in a not-so-crowded area in Chelsea, I was happy to go check it out. Even thought they have the regular round-shape sign, it is not super obvious like most other Starbucks locations. It is possible that if you don’t know this location exists, then you might just miss it (if you are walking by quickly).
When you open the glass door, you see a large staircase going down to basement, and the space is really large, and have the art gallery feel to it with many paintings and such on the wall.
It has other coffee related decorations, especially right by the staircase. It is really beautifully designed. It also comes with good amount of seating of different types.
Even thought it is located below street level, they still have nice large windows, allowing natural lights to come in and light up the large space. It also has lots of lighting fixtures throughout, so it feels very cozy and comfortable.
The middle of the floor is more like a nice living room setting, with comfy chairs and couch, and additional modern designed seating from wall to wall. With this space being more like a hidden gem (right now), there are more than enough seating at all time. I am secretly hoping this place will not be too popular so that it will stay this way.
They have industrial feel to it with the light fixtures, concrete floor, ducts, and also have brick wall behind the barista. Clean modern design, which also works well with the “gallery” feel of the space.
They have very cool decorations to look at around the barista counter. It really is like browsing a museum or something. They had a map of where the Reserve coffee comes from and quick information about them as well.
So, what can you get here that is special to this location? Of course the “reserve” line of coffee. They have other, regular drinks here as well, but since we came to the Reserve, we decided to try some of their reserve coffee. We ordered Cameroon Mt Oku ($4/grande) and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Chelba ($4.50/grande). You might say that is pricey, but let me tell you, they are strong and they give you so much, all the way to the rim of the cup! If you want to add milk or anything, you might to tell the barista first. Otherwise, you need to drink some of it before you can add anything in.
The Cameroon Mt Oku a high-altitude coffee, naturally from the Mount Oku region in western Cameroon. It is full-bodied, with herbal & floral layers, and notes of black pepper and tea. The black pepper gives that little kick, but yet it is smooth and soothing with herbal flavor. The Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Chelba is medium-bodies, and has lavender aromas, lemon-pepper spice notes and a lingering, fruity finish. This was more my kind of coffee. They were really strong, so I liked it better with a little milk.
The Starbucks Reserve states that they travel around the world, searching for small-lot coffees that are rare and distinctive. They try to find coffee that are one-of-a-kind, and sourced from “small coffee-growing regions in Latin America, Africa and Asia / Pacific Islands.” I am not a heavy coffee drinker, but when I drink one, I want it to be a good quality coffee. And it is what they are trying to offer here. To tell you the truth, I actually love the space more than their coffee, but again, if I was a coffee lover, I probably will love their coffee too. So, the next time I visit this nice little quiet, relaxing oasis in NYC, I would most likely order their regular beverage, but I still will totally enjoy the space!
Starbucks Reserve – 525 W 26th St, New York, NY 10001