By Julia Daye
The whir of the grinder and spit of the espresso machine create the soundtrack of Irving Farm New York. Lattes line up on the countertop, rich and frothy in brown cups. Conversations in varying tongues popcorn between the tables, the barista bellows names above it all.
Irving Farm New York on 79th Street and Broadway is a satellite-turned-staple coffee fixture on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The cafe offers a tasty brew sourced from the company’s Hudson Valley roastery, as well as small bites and pastries. The mother of this uptown operation, Irving Farm in Gramercy Park, has been a mainstay for downtown coffee drinkers since 1996.
The Upper West location was only the second of Irving Farm’s city cafes. Since its opening in 2012, it has become a java citadel of its own. The café turns 11 this summer
“We’ve had a long relationship with the community there,” said Zach Popoff, senior marketing director at Irving Farm.
The crowd at Irving Farm ebbs and flows with the workday of the locals—mostly 9-5ers with a lunch break. On weekdays, the place swells with people in the early morning. People rush in, grab a cup, and rush off.
The roar of the 1-train subway at the end of the block is a harbinger of oncoming foot-traffic. Only paces away from the subway entrance, you can hear the train from Irving Farm’s patio out front. The train thunders into the station, people pouring out of the staircase moments later. Then, like choreography, several customers file inside to get their coffee. There’s a line for five minutes while the baristas race to get the transit-worn customers their brews. Then, there is a pause. Until the next train, that is.
At the tables sit people on dates, people mid-interview, people working, and a few reading the paper. The staff takes pride in the café being a gathering place.
A little after 3 p.m., a swarm of high school students join the scene.
According to Popoff, this café seats the most people of any of Irving Farm’s locations. Upper West has two seating areas—a bright entry room in front, and a dim retreat in the back. The front is a bustling arena with eight small tables—with the counter, register, and espresso machine on the far side. The back room has less traffic. Guests tend to sit here for longer, reading or working under the pale skylight.
Irving Farm’s relative expanse for a Manhattan coffee shop seeded visions for community gatherings this past spring. In March, Irving Farm hosted a blues night. The event featured local musicians, inviting the community in after hours to enjoy the tunes.
“We certainly want to utilize that space,” said Popoff. “And if somebody in the community comes to us and wants to use that space, we’re more than happy to support them.”
Irving Farm boasts a unique atmosphere in another way. Unlike most coffee shops in New York City, Irving Farm doesn’t have Wi-Fi. This can be a hitch for new patrons who didn’t expect their visit to be offline.
But regulars don’t seem to mind, as they fill nearly all of the cafe’s 74 seats. To them, Irving Farm is a cherished neighborhood port to caffeinate, read, socialize and take a breather from the whirl of the city.
Irving Farm 224 WEST 79TH STREET
Monday-Friday: 7:30am – 5pm; Saturday-Sunday: 7:30am – 6pm
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