aroma espresso bar

Aroma Cafe - 72nd St between Broadway and Columbus Ave

Just had breakfast at aroma espresso bar, another favorite hangout in my five blocks.   It’s one of several, relatively new establishments in the neighborhood owned and operated by Israeli entrepreneurs (Soom Soom across the street and Screme around the corner are two others — more on that later).   There are also other Aroma locations in midtown, SOHO and Florida, though it originates as a coffee chain in Israel, with more than 90 locations there.

A great scene.   You can eat fast or take it to go; hang out to chat with friends, read or plug in your computer for Wifi access.  This location has two floors, with outdoor garden seating on the roof.    A modern decor with orange or black leather chairs and both table and counter dining, designed to accommodate groups or individuals.  Drinking coffee at aroma is like being in Europe. They really know how to make a cappuccino and even have macchiatos on the menu.  So many places in the U.S. confuse cappuccino with latte and have no idea what it means to make a “dry” cappuccino.  Not the case at aroma.  They know coffee!  And each drink is served with a small piece of aroma-branded chocolate…a nice touch.    (p.s. they offer teas and cold drinks too).

For food, my favorite is the simple breakfast on-the-go, though I like to eat it there at the espresso bar.  Eggs anyway you like them with one of the three home-made types of bread – multi-grain, wheat or white.  My preference is egg whites scrambled (with no oil or butter on the grill) and the multigrain toast.  If you are looking for a larger portion, try the All-Day Power Breakfast — eggs any way you like it, bread, mixed greens, chopped tomatoes and cucumber, and scoops of feta cheese and cream cheese.   Lighter choices too, like fruit with yogurt and museli.   Lots of other choices for lunch/dinner/snacks too.  Sandwiches (or half sandwiches which are a great offering), soups and salads, many with a mediterranean recipe influence.    For example, I have yet to try the Halumi sandwich — Grilled halumi cheese, cream cheese, sliced tomatoes, sour pickles, and lettuce on fresh-baked aroma bread.  Or the Mediterranean sandwich with thickly sliced eggplant, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, sour pickles and tahini on aroma bread.  There is plenty of more traditional fare too.   And most of the pastries/sweets are homemade on location.

The owner has hired a great bunch of employees.  Many of them are young, personable men and women who are easy-going but follow the operational guidelines in place. Similar to Magnolia, this is a tight run ship with very specific processes.    You order at the cash register, pay and then wait for your name to be called via the microphone when the food/drink is ready.   If you hang by the bar and wait, there is no need for the microphone and you can experience the conversations happening behind the bar among the staff.   They seem like they are having fun, and they help each other out.

It’s also interesting to watch the eclectic crowd — weekday mornings, it’s filled with moms and young children socializing; throughout the day unemployed or self-employed people are working on their computers; a Hebrew-speaking crowd and plenty of 20 and 30-somethings hang out at various times; and casual business/networking meetings in action.    aroma also just added a NEW Happy Hour with select beers and wines.

So back to this morning.  Sunday before 10am is a great time to go.  Very relaxed atmosphere.  Since I’m a bit of a regular, I get a special greeting with a knowing smile that I will be ordering the exact same thing as always.   Instead of the usual music videos playing on the big screen TV above the espresso bar, the channel was turned to the World Cup.    A great start to the day – I left with a smile on my face.  A reminder to stop and enjoy the journey of life and culture and not always rush off so quickly to conquer the “To-Do” list.

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