If you follow me on Instagram, you may already know that I have a slight obsession with a very specific coffee shop—La Colombe. I go there often and I’m beyond ecstatic that this East Coast gem has also found a home in Los Angeles—just like me.
The draft latte from La Colombe is amazing, but why an obsession? To be honest, it’s not their draft latte, or their black + tan, or their cappuccinos…no, it’s because the La Colombe in Tribeca is where I wrote a lot of Broke & Chic’s first articles. After my morning shift at a Soho cafe, I would quickly change out of the clothes that made me smell like a croissant and I’d walk to that specific La Colombe and write the good old fashioned way—with a notebook and a pen.
Pre-covid, La Colombe would serve you your drink of choice in an actual mug if you weren’t on the go. I would sip my frothy cup of motivation, observe the hustle and bustle that surrounded me, and listen to the wide variety of conversations happening at every corner of the small coffee shop. It was New York, so everyone was always working on the next big thing (or so they thought they were). Being in a city where everyone is working on their passion, trying to make it, putting all of their energy into that one thing that makes them happy, whatever that may be; it was so inspiring just to listen and observe until my own creativity hit. I would then get lost in my notebook as the words—my words, took over me.
After brainstorming and writing, I’d get on the Q train to head back to my teenie tiny studio apartment in Midtown. I would then sit down on my futon, open up my clunky Dell laptop, log into WordPress and publish whatever it was I wrote at La Colombe hours prior. That was what 2011 looked like for me. I was 23 years old, brand new to NYC, broke af, just trying to stay afloat in a city that wanted to do everything it could to discourage me, to make me want to give up. But I was determined to follow my dreams, just like everyone else.
My apartment was small, it had roaches, the water in my sink was green sometimes, and I didn’t have a kitchen, just that single sink with the contaminated water (I did also have a microwave and a mini-fridge). For dinner, the only thing I was able to afford to eat were the $1 pizza slices at Two Bros. I’m not going to lie, 2011 was a very difficult year for me, it was the year that I learned what struggling actually meant. I didn’t grow up in a family that had money, but I always had everything I needed, and I always had access to food. The second I arrived in Manhattan, I quickly found myself regularly scrounging around my apartment to find four quarters so I could afford to eat, trying to find a job that would make paying my bills less difficult, and just trying to find my sense of self as a young twenty-something in a city that I really couldn’t afford.
To be honest, splurging on those coffee’s at La Colombe may not have been the most financially responsible decision (especially at the time), however I needed to do it. The vibe at La Colombe inspired me too much to not go. La Colombe was my beacon of hope and my sanctuary at a time when I felt lonely, scared, and unsure.
Writing for hours there made me forget about my sad bank account, my shitty apartment with the roaches, and my broken heart for being brave enough to leave those that loved me in another state.
Fast forward a few years and New York City was no longer the struggle it was back in 2011. I had a great job working for NBC, I had a large 2-bedroom apartment in a Brooklyn brownstone, I had my amazing set of friends, and I still went to La Colombe. The La Colombe in Soho is where I would schedule my many work meetings, and where my co-workers and I would go for our 2pm pick-me-up to give our brains some fuel to get through another few hours. I was living the life I always dreamed of.
I also still had Broke & Chic. When I first started it back in 2011, it was just a hobby, but I put so much work into it, that it slowly but surely became my everything—my bread and butter. This month is a bit of an anniversary for me, December 14th, 2020 marked two years that I have been full-time on this website. Yes, Broke & Chic is what pays my bills and I owe none other than La Colombe for that reality. La Colombe changed the course of my life. Without the La Colombe in Tribeca, there would be no Broke & Chic, at least not in the way it exists today.
After nine years of calling New York City home, it was time for me to leave. My last day as a New York City resident was a very difficult one. I felt like I had rocks in my stomach and my legs felt like Jell-o. That afternoon I did a solo trip to the La Colombe in Soho; I got on the G train, transferred to the L train, then transferred to the R and walked to my favorite coffee shop to get their cappuccino one last time. I then went outside with the intention of walking around Soho to take it all in, but was hit with a wave of emotion. I had to immediately find a seat on a random stoop on Crosby St. so I could let those feelings hit me with their intensity. I sobbed into that cappuccino like it was my damn job.
It was cold outside, so it hurt to cry, but I couldn’t stop. Some of those tears were me thanking New York City for shaping me into the woman I am today, some of those tears were my sadness for leaving the beautiful life I created for myself, and some of those tears were fear of the unknown. Would LA accept me like NYC did? Would LA be just as hard? I gripped my coffee like it was a life line, using its warmth to warm my body as those tears froze on my face in the 5 degree weather. It may sound silly to some, but La Colombe shared one of the most vulnerable moments of my life with me.
La Colombe was a source of comfort for me as a lost and scared twenty-something who dreamed of being a writer and running her own publication, and La Colombe was a source of comfort for me on my last day in New York City as a thirty-something who quit her full-time job to run her successful publication in another city. For that, I will always be thankful for it.
Dear La Colombe,
Thank you for being my beacon of light and hope at a time I felt lost. I was able to find my passion at your coffee shop, and my time spent in your various cafes in Manhattan have helped me turn that passion into a full-time job. Broke & Chic has allowed me to travel the world, and it has allowed me to become my authentic self.
Thank you for offering a space where I could find inspiration when I felt like giving up. Because of you, I didn’t.
There is something so beautiful and romantic about coffee shops. The noises, the smells, the conversations…they have the ability to inspire if you just put your phone down and listen. If you have a passion or dream, find the thing that makes you remember why you shouldn’t give up. For me, that’s a coffee shop called La Colombe, but it can be anything. Find the place or thing that offers your soul comfort when it’s needed and be patient…your success will find you if you put in the work.