When an Expensive Cappuccino Isn’t Expensive: Prima (East Village)

We’ve discussed the aspects of what constitutes a bargain in the gourmet coffee world before, but I’ve discovered a new addition to the already complex science of coffee pricing: the attractiveness of the barista.  I’m much more eager to hand over $4+ to an attractive barista as opposed to one who, well, just looks a bit sloppy.  The price rises as the warmth of our interaction increases. Cafes should really consider this, maybe it could be part of a new-wave barista training program.  Then again, they probably do and I am just not their target customer to quantify the attractiveness of their baristi.

That being said, Prima on East First between Second and First Avenue is certainly hiring the right people to justify their near obscene prices.  Don’t get me wrong, the location is gorgeous.  I would more than happily pay $4.25 for a cappuccino in order to have a clean, cool marble table to sit at for an hour.  You don’t feel rushed at Prima.  I just may not be spending $9 on yogurt and granola there.  Luckily, there’s no pressure to sit down for a full service meal in the morning.

I went to Prima looking positively disheveled after an early morning yoga class.  It was hot and muggy, which only added to a general feeling of unpleasantness.  While I had a vague idea that Prima would be my destination, previous attempts to go there had been thwarted by ill-informed confusion.  Once again, I was perplexed as to how the place worked and what it served, but after a bit of waiting, I ordered my $4.25 cappuccino.

The barista was gorgeous.  Any description will read more like prose from a romance novel as opposed to witty remarks by a smart twenty-year old (not to mention, possibly embarrass some poor soul who didn’t realize that he would later be described on a blog), so I’ll refrain.  Let’s just say, I have a feeling that the everyone who works there falls along the spectrum of beautiful.  The customers as well.  That alone is, to me, worth the price of a coffee.

The cappuccino itself was very, very good.  Prima gets their coffee from Ninth Street Espresso and serves up a cup that surpasses what you would order at the latter’s Chelsea Market location.  The service is friendlier than you’ll find at the original location.  There could have been more schiuma (proper 1:1:1 ratio, this does not have), but the coffee itself was great.  Dark and dense, verging on chocolatey.  It held up well nestled in milk.  Actually, this is probably an espresso you wouldn’t really want on its own.

The cafe, or rather, restaurant, is in need of some description as well.  While it’s only a few doors up from Bluebird, the environment is much friendlier and hospitable to sitting around.  When I went, the glass doors were wide open and a small handful of people were languidly sitting on high chairs at marble tables.  In front, there are plenty of hanging plants that make the whole cafe/restaurant feel secluded in its own orbit.  Its pleasantly  separated from the hustle and bustled going on just outside.

Prima may not jump out at you and beg you to come in, but if you’re up for a little adventure, this is another great hidden secret in New York’s cafe scene.

According to you, what is too much to spend on coffee?

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