Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Caffe Bene

Caffe Bene is a South Korean coffee chain that just opened a branch in NY's busy Times Square area. Right on the corner of Broadway and 49th street in tourist/theater/office central, the place is difficult to miss. Since it's Korean chain, I was curious to see if they'd have some interesting tea and hopefully some tasty food.

Walking up to the cafe we noticed enormous coffee cup and waffle characters waving at the tourists walking by. My friends and I were turned off by this, and almost decided to keep walking. But then realized we were on a mission.  Maybe they'd have good tea!

The interior is spacious and airy, with lots of seating. The main focus appears to be coffee, but
there is 'Premium' Full Leaf Tea, Iced Tea, Iced Tea Lemonade, Green Tea Latte, Chai Tea Latte and something called a Misugaru Latte on the menu. I wanted to ask more about the teas and where they came from but a guy with a camera was focused on me while I was ordering, so I made it brief and ordered a Chai latte. He followed us around the cafe while we were making our selections, which was very annoying. I was starting to get angry but everyone behind the counter was so sweet, that I didn't want to cause a ruckus. I imagined myself on a Korean TV station with the headline 'Angry Tea Blogger Punches Cameraman'.

I was curious about the Misugaru latte, but wasn't feeling particularly adventurous. There was a sign posted near the registers giving a little more information about the roasted barley, rice, and grain powder in the drink. I may try it once the paparazzi are gone.

The Chai Latte was pleasantly sweet but not cloying. I prefer a bolder, spicier chai, but the mild spices with gentle sweetness was comforting. I could taste cardamom, but it wasn't the dominant flavor, which is a good thing. Cinnamon and a tiny hint of pepper and clove were in the background. This is a good choice for a Chai Latte if you are in Times Square.

I also had a sandwich, which was 'fine' but nothing to really mention. There was a green tea panna cotta that looked interesting, and the scones and pastries looked promising. We were really hoping for some Korean food and pastry, and not just a few pre-made sandwiches, salads and generic pastries.

The seating area is spacious and would be comfortable to sit while sipping a cup of tea, a rarity for the Times Square area. But this is only if they stop shouting 'WELCOME TO CAFFE BENE' to everyone that enters the establishment. I would have taken pictures of the decor, but I wanted to get away from the cameraman as quickly as possible.The prices were comparable to any midtown cafe. If I needed a quick cup of tea near my office, this is definitely a better alternative to the other chains in the area. But if I was willing to walk more than 2 blocks, I'd go to Argo Tea in Columbus Circle.

Caffe Bene: 1605 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
Recommended for a Quick Cup

1 comment:

  1. Actually Caffe Bene is famous for unique desert in Korea. Misugaru is traditional Koran tea since 13th century and it is good for diet and quite delicious. Taste it next time! :)