In Seinfeld, “What’s the rent?” was the quintessential New York question, but — I believe — that has been displaced by “is there a subway nearby?” After all, with neighborhoods such as Greenpoint, Astoria and, yes, Bushwick, becoming popular due to their roughly cheap rents, the proximity to a subway can make or break a property. Your bike may be nice, but do you really want to ride two wheels through snow, rain and scorching-heat?
Then, there’s the other question: is the G train a worthy subway to live nearby? Debatable.
Yet, I did! I went to Bushwick! Just for coffee! How could I not, really, after all I’d heard about the quasi-legendary Little Skips? Coffee writers love it for its neighborhood atmosphere and the ability to sit and work for seemingly hours on end. If you can snag a table, that is. When I went there on a rainy, sleety Saturday, it was so packed that anyone arriving would have had a difficult time finding a place to sit, let alone winding their way through the crowds. But, I guess, Bushwick is as hard to leave as it is to arrive.
The space is big and informal. At first, the mismatched formica tables and picnic benches evoke an atmosphere of college town coffee house that the handwritten chalk boards and customers on laptops don’t betray. Yet, as soon as you get to ordering, you get the sense that you’re in for a different experience. You won’t find a La Marzocco espresso machine at your university’s local watering hole. Nor will you find the other coffee tools on display behind the bar.
I chose a cortado and snagged a table, a little formica one with against the right wall, near the window. The people around me were mostly younger Bushwick residents working on their laptops or chatting with friends … with computers nearby. In some spaces the proliferation of computers can lead to a silent and alienating feeling, but Little Skips manages to avoid an office-like atmosphere with good music and pleasantly cramming everyone in. Being so close to your neighbor, who may be next to someone chatting with their friend over a cortado and bagel, energizes the space.
The cortado was good, light but rich. The Counter Culture coffee didn’t taste dense, but there was a slight chocolate note to each sip. While I didn’t order any food, judging from the surrounding customers, it is the thing to do at Little Skips and I will definitely do so when I go back. Because I have a feeling that, once you discover a place with Little Skips’ intoxicating blend of energy and focus, you will go back, no matter how much you have to travel to get there.