10-93 Jackson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
Whenever I find myself wandering Long Island City, which is actually surprisingly often, I seem to wind up at Sweetleaf for a quick cup of coffee. I don't find myself sitting here too too often (not for any real reason) but when I do, I'm not fast to get up and leave. Independent coffee shops are few and far between these days, but they add character to a neighborhood. I only wish that where I lived had a Sweetleaf. I'd be there every day. Cough cough. Ahem. Cough.
This most recent visit was on a lazy Sunday that for me, wasn't all that lazy. There's a room off to the side where folks like me plop down with their laptops (free wifi but no outlets). We all grab a seat at a table that looks to have been salvaged from a 1940s boarding school and proceed to plug in our headsets or listen to the eclectic soundtrack of alternative rock and mid-1990s rap. But there are also tables in the back and sofas near the door where the sunlight floods in. Perfect for reading or chilling with friends.
Sweetleaf serves the famous Stumptown coffee that hipsters and coffee-snobs can't seem to get enough of, though I won't lie and say I can tell the difference. As long as it's not Dunkin Donuts, I could care less. There's a range of pastries available from scones to spinach croissants. This particular time I got a chocolate chip cookie that nearly blew me out of my chair. I don't know who makes 'em, but damn if they don't know what they're doing.
I'm a cocktail bar guy. I adore them and I think that the Sweetleaf's speakeasy-cum-coffee bar vibe is what I really can't get enough of. Sure, there's the flapper-era decor and logo, but you feel like everything's being made with a certain degree of attention and skill. It's the same feeling I have when I'm at the nearby Dutch Kills bar. Sweetleaf also has this intimate charm. Recently I visited Toby's Estate, a coffee bar/roaster out of Australia in neighboring Williamsburg and, while there was no dispute that the people there knew their coffee to no end, the place felt so over-designed that, compared to Sweetleaf, it almost came off as fake. When I wrote up my Toby's Estate post, I got an email from their PR department emphasizing that they weren't a chain. In contrast, when I tweeted about enjoying a cookie here at Sweetleaf, the owner responded with "so happy to hear that!" and "Did you get the lemon basil?".
Expect to pay standard coffee house prices for your caffeine of choice. This time, a large drip coffee and a cookie was $5.25.
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