DIY

We Tried Martha Stewart's New Cafe In NYC & Here's What Happened

The fonts are amazing; the coffee, not so much.

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We were very excited when word got out this week that Martha Stewart had opened her own cafe.

The#marthastewartcafe opened today in the lobby of our office building on 26th street Great opening day!

As a group of Martha enthusiasts, we decided to try it firsthand. After a $16 cab ride to what Martha generously calls a "vibrant area of the city," we finally arrived. Here's what we thought...

Atmosphere:

Rachel W. Miller for BuzzFeed

Natalie Brown: Well, it was obviously an office lobby with a coffee bar nestled in one corner (kind of a like a Martha-fied version of that thing that Dwight Schrute opens in The Office). I would have been much happier if it was somewhere with chairs.

Jessica Probus: It was hard not to be critical of the atmosphere knowing it was Martha because the bar was so high. I was confused by the mix of French ("thè") and British (bin labeled "rubbish" instead of trash, British barista), and the name is Martha Stewart Café, which is just French for coffee. Is it Martha Stewart Coffee or Martha Stewart Cafe? Where even are we?

Rachel Wilkerson Miller: The design of the coffee cups is actually quite lovely. Instead of having a thick sleeve that slides on and off, it comes attached to the cup and feels like a much higher quality than a Starbucks sleeve. Also, all of us were obsessed with the font choices. They were so on point.

Alanna Okun: I want a tattoo in that font. Actually, maybe I will just get a tattoo of the Martha Stewart Café™ logo.

Rachel W. Miller for BuzzFeed

RWM: The three GoPro cameras that were taped to the walls and pointed directly at the cafe were a little unsettling; I’d like to know their exact purpose. And the visible painter’s tape that was used to rig them to the wall was the least Martha thing about the whole experience.

JP: I actually enjoyed the GoPros in every corner because I imagine that Martha is viewing the multiple feeds from her office/penthouse several stories above us. Big Martha Is Watching.

Price:

Rachel Miller for BuzzFeed

NB: My small tea was $2. I’ve never had buckwheat tea anywhere else, so I guess that’s a fine price for what they call a “buckwheat infusion.” Also: I was able to refill my cup with hot water after I got back to the office and get a full second cup out of the single teabag. So really it was $1/cup.

AO: You get what you pay for: I would describe the small as "American Girl Doll venti."

JP: At first I was surprised by how cheap* it was ($1.50 for small thè, $2 for small coffee), but then I remembered that Martha has a line at K-Mart. Martha-ness is not a price point, it's a taste level.

*New York Cheap

Accoutrement:

Rachel W. Miller for BuzzFeed

RWM: After the font, the sugar and milk cart was the most Martha thing about the place. It was so elegantly arranged and clean… probably because no one wants to be the asshole who spills milk on Martha’s cart and doesn’t clean it up. There were five types of milk to choose from, which felt luxurious and thoughtful. But there was no Splenda, a decision I tend to think had some moral judgment attached to it.

NB: I was too busy Instagramming my pretty cup to try putting milk in it. Plus who would want to ruin a tea that “combines buckwheat with the lighter hull” (wut?) with dairy products?

Staff:

Laura bonnie and jenn hauser two of our cute baristas in the new #MarthaStewartcafe in the Starrett Lehigh bldg.

JP: There was one hot British male barista (not shown above) and one cute androgynous lady barista when we were there. Martha knows her audience (everyone but straight men).

NB: Friendly, and super fast. They might have seemed a little nervous that we were taking pictures. Maybe.

RWM: I noticed the tip jar was filled with cash, and not just small bills and change. So it seems everyone is in agreement that the service was good.

AO: I tipped well because a) I generally do and b) mostly, though, the barista was wicked hot.

Taste:

Rachel W. Miller for BuzzFeed

NB: I had the Buckwheat Tea, which Martha’s blog says is a “big favorite” like, twice in one slideshow (well “big favorite” once, and “favorite” the second time). The cafe’s site says it tastes like a croissant, but I think it tastes more like a piece of toasted whole wheat sandwich bread. Except it's tea. I wanted to try one of the pastries (apparently there are whole-grain croissants) but they were already sold out. Frown.

JP: Martha's Breakfast Blend Thé tastes like...tea. Not really good or interesting tea, but just a bag of black tea steeped in NYC tap water. After finishing it I feel VERY caffeinated, but not in the productive way. Like my bones are shaking and I can’t really see straight and my neck is sweating.

RWM: I was so excited about the carbs after reading about Martha’s “selfless round of pastry tasting.” But there was only one “pastry” left in the entire place — a very lonely-seeming baguette. Yes, we got there at noon, after the morning rush, but what about those who want a pastry and coffee as an afternoon snack? Since it’s their opening week, I can forgive them. But I was still bummed not to get any of the imitation cronuts.

Rachel Miller for BuzzFeed

AO: This was my fourth cup of coffee of the day (although my first-ever cup of MARTHA’S BLEND) so I was vibrating so hard I lost the ability to taste. But: It was Not Delicious. Luckily, it was also very tiny.

RWM: I am in no way a coffee snob but my small cup of “Martha’s Blend” was terrible. I like my coffee with a little cream and sugar; I poured in five sugars and it didn't get sweeter at all — I actually began to wonder if there was a hole in the bottom of the cup and all the sugar was just going straight through. When we got back to the office I dumped in two Splendas and that made it drinkable…but by then it was no longer hot.

Overall Impressions:

Rachel W. Miller for BuzzFeed

JP: I probably wouldn't go back unless I worked in the building for Martha Stewart, in which case I would probably be too busy Living My Best Life to even get coffee.

NB: I think I feel more anti-oxidized than normal, maybe. Cleansed by Martha-ness?

RWM: In terms of lifestyle guru-branded coffee drinks, I’ll stick with the Oprah Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks. Though it costs twice as many American dollars, Oprah’s drink really makes me feel ready to take on the day in an Oprah-like manner. Martha Stewart Cafe did not infuse me with a Martha-like essence, which is what I really needed today.

AO: I'm not really one for bucket lists, don't have much I NEED TO ACCOMPLISH during my brief stint on this spinning blue marble, but I have a true yearning dream to one day meet Martha Stewart. And I do not feel that this visit brought me any closer! So for now I will continue to faithfully RT pretty much everything she tweets, even the horrible food pics, and contemplate calling in to her Sirius radio show every week before inevitably chickening out.

Is This Real Life?

instagram.com

JP: The cafe's Instagram posted this picture which looks suspiciously perfect, especially compared to Martha's typical food pictures.

RWM: Did Martha ever actually pose in the cafe with a stock photo-esque plate of croissants? WAKE UP, SHEEPLE.

How High Up Does This Thing Go?

marthastewartcafe.com

JP: The jam jars on the menu page of the cafe's website also did not show up anywhere IRL.

RWM: If you saw how many cameras were in that cafe, you'd understand why we're wearing tinfoil hats right now. Though I think Martha would approve of refashioning high-quality tinfoil into a lovely DIY headpiece.

If you want to taste for yourself, visit the cafe at 601 W. 26th Street in NYC.