After stints in Scotland and China, Katie from Stories My Suitcase Could Tell has moved to the Big Apple to experience life as a freelance writer and blogger in New York. Armed with coffee and cookies, Katie introduces us to the cool cafes she likes to settle in and get down to work.
If I’m honest, I can do it almost anywhere: in bed, on the couch, at the kitchen table or the office desk. But as stereotypical as it sounds, the one place I can always write, where I really feel the words flow onto the page, is in a coffee shop.
It’s not only my love of a good latte that draws me in (although a steady supply of caffeine is always welcome!), but the atmosphere on offer in the places that serve them. There’s something about the level of hustle and bustle in a coffee shop that’s just right for writing: not so quiet you get bored, but not so busy you get distracted.
I moved to the New York City area just before Christmas last year, and since then I’ve been on the hunt for the best coffee shop for blogging and working on Stories My Suitcase Could Tell. While I haven’t found the perfect one yet, I do have a few firm favourites, like Joe Coffee in the West Village, Happy Bones in Little Italy, and Blue Bottle in Brooklyn – all locations that just so happen to have tasty sweet treats on offer alongside their artisan brews (I have a terrible weakness for the cookies at Happy Bones).
The winter weather and sub-zero temperatures here have given me a great excuse to knuckle down with a latte and a notebook, and today I’m writing this by hand at Toby’s Estate Coffee on Fifth Avenue, a few steps away from the iconic Flatiron Building.
It’s positively tiny, so I’ve been lucky to snag a seat at the marble counter by the window, but I love the atmosphere here. People are always coming and going for take-out coffee (the beans are roasted in Brooklyn), and it’s light and bright, which makes it feel more spacious than it really is. Plus, there’s even a small bookstore and florist through an open door at the back of the cafe – what more could you ask for in a work space?!
If you’re wondering why I’m scrawling with a pen and paper, the reason I’m going old school is that a lot of coffee shops in New York don’t have wi-fi. That’s something that really surprised me, and is obviously a problem when it comes to the technical side of running a blog. For the early creative stages of building a blog post, though, I think it’s perfect. Without the distraction of a computer screen, I find myself filling page after page of notes, which I can then type up and edit on my laptop when I get back to the apartment.
Living somewhere new provides plenty of source material for writing, so I’ve been filling up the homepage of Stories My Suitcase Could Tell with lots of American adventures recently, as well as an insight into what brought me here in the first place. When it’s not minus 29 degrees Celsius, I’ve been making the most of getting to know my adopted home, from eating my way through popular brunch spots in the West Village, to taking weekend breaks to places like Pennsylvania.
Given the size of New York City – not to mention the U.S. – it looks like I won’t be running out of things to do (or new coffee shops to work in) anytime soon!
Katie MacLeod is a journalist and blogger with a passion for writing, politics, travel, and a good cup of coffee. When she’s not busy with her day job as a journalist, she’s out exploring everything the world has to offer, from climbing the Great Wall of China to road tripping along the coast of California, and writing about it on her award-winning travel blog, Stories My Suitcase Could Tell. After stints in Scotland and China, she’s now based in and around New York City.