But First — Coffee!

“But first, coffee.” This quote is one many New Yorkers have heard and live by. It’s what we need to jump start our day. Before work or school we drop by our nearest cafe, Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts and grab a cup. There’s also the occasional time where we stop by one of New York’s well known coffee carts.  I spoke to a man who runs a cart on 24th and Lexington Avenue right outside of the Baruch College campus.  His cart is in competition, with Starbucks and a Dunkin Donuts but his business still thrives.

According an article published by New York Magazine, there are over 3,000 food carts in the city. Each cart makes an average of around $200 to $300 a day, bringing in an annual income of between $7,5000 to $14,000, for those who work seasonally.

The cart owner outside Baruch says he’s been coming to the same spot everyday for over twenty years. His everyday presence showed. Each day as I waited on the line I noticed as he knew everyone’s order down to a tee. He chatted with some customers and even knew some by name. After about a week of daily trips to the cart he knew my order by heart as well. Before I could get the chance to say “Ice coffee with milk and two sugars” he was reaching for the cup and the ice.

He said that it first starts by getting a permit which is one of the hardest parts. As he discussed it his body posture changed and became visibly bothered just reiterating the process. He continued to say that coming to Baruch wasn’t really his decision. He works for a company.  “Yes I work for a very large company (with) coffee carts all over the city!”

He finished by saying that one of the other stressful tasks besides keeping the cart clean and other small chores is making sure to renew his license every two years, which doesn’t seem like an issue but apparently, the years sneak up on you.

Though many might not carry on conversations with him, the cart owner presence and kindness comes with every cup of coffee and surely that’s been a contribution to his lengthy time here at Baruch.

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