Ellington Berg

 Let’s Get Coffee Introduction

My name is Ellington and my best friend is Lilli Babb. It was God, or Stephen Sondheim, that brought us together when we met seven years ago at a musical theatre camp. Since then Stephen Sondheim, or God, has kept us close together: We’ve maintained regular contact, went to the same college, and are both doing the very original thing of pursuing your dream in New York City. But once in the concrete jungle, we found ourselves seeing each other less and less.

Let’s Get Coffee is a personal blog but also a means to hold ourselves accountable for our friendship. Once a week, we meet at a different coffee shop and socialize. This might not sound groundbreaking, but it takes a surprising amount of effort to achieve.

Then, we write about it! If you’re reading, thank you. If you think this is ridiculous, let’s get coffee!

-Ellington


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Ellington and I met in 2011 as wee ones at a theatre camp in Michigan. Since then, we have kept in touch and become best friends taking over the entertainment world one creative idea at a time... Or so we hope one day to do. Now both living in NYC, we were having trouble seeing one another due to our busy schedules. If you currently live or have ever lived here, you know how important it is to have your good friends close to get you through the insanity of this city.

Ellington came up with the wonderful idea to meet once a week for coffee (or tea if you get real bad coffee poops like me) and catch up on our marvelous and busy lives. To make it more exciting, we'll be documenting our dates and letting you all know just how amazing our friendship really is. I am looking forward to our adventures together as we explore coffee shops all over NYC.

-Lilli


St. Kilda 3.14.19

I fought hard to get into St. Kilda coffee on W. 44th. I was coming from the Upper East Side, which meant I had to cross the heart of Times Square to get to the Hell’s Kitchen hole in the wall. A moment of silence for all the tourists I elbowed. 

St. Kilda looks absolutely how it should. Imagine if Rag & Bone were a café. No detail was spared, down to the barista having bleached eyebrows and bangs from east Berlin. As she gave me my coffee, she said “cheers” to me. Twice! That’s two times. No one in this story is British. I’m mystified. 

Lilli and I circled around the paradox of loneliness in New York City, both overtly and ‘vertly. There is probably nothing I could say about being lonely in the city that has not already been said by the many great writers that precede me. However, Joan Didion did not have a Facebook. The isolation of NYC is quite baffling when it is so easy to communicate these days. Yet here were us two, friends, and the fact that we were able to meet for coffee felt like nothing short of a miracle. 

We had a hard out at 6:30pm. I had to jump up to Lincoln center to pick up my laptop from a frolleague (friend/colleague, I want to make it happen!) and then jump down to Union Square and pick up wine from the Trader Joe’s Wine Store. The irony is not lost on me that, in contrast to resting on the convenience of friendship in the city, I will still go out of my way to get a $7 bottle of good merlot.

-Ellington


We absolutely took this selfie a week later.

We absolutely took this selfie a week later.

My journey to my coffee date with the marvelous Ellington Berg began a bit frantically. I received a text from him at 4:59 saying, "Here!" and I immediately began thinking how I'd told him I was free at 5, but forgotten to mention that was the exact time I'd be free from work. This is not uncommon for me because I tend to give information with little detail, which is why I know teaching would not be a strong career choice for me.

To add to my stress of being late, work ran over 20 minutes all because I am too eager to please a well respected and accomplished professional in my career. When we finished out business, I quickly gathered my things and ran for the stairs. As I walked at a brisk pace to reach Ellington, I gave my mom a call to tell her about the exciting class I had just witnessed. Fortunately, the street lights were on my side, so I was able to get to St. Kilda in record time.

As I walked down the steps to the basement coffee shop, I immediately began looking for Ellington through my watery, windblown eyes. He quickly stood up from a little, round table sandwiched between the window bar seating and another small table with two women and gave me a wave. I ended the phone call with my mom and apologized immediately for being late while giving him a big hug.

We began a much needed friendly chat about life with my very hot tea and his half drunk coffee. Creativity was the big topic of the day, which is hard to find in New York City unless you create it yourself. Lucky for me, Ellington is one of the most creative people I know. 

Spending time with a very honest and supportive friend like Ellington can make anyone's day better. I left our wonderful date feeling motivated and stress free. I am very excited for our next coffee adventure.

-Lilli

 Molly’s Cupcakes 3.21.19

March 21st was a rainy day across all five boroughs. It’s my favorite kind of weather which doesn’t make sense because when it rains in New York I am always wearing the wrong shoes. 

Lilli and I were looking for a spot in the west village because she had a shift in midtown immediately after our coffee date. The obvious choice was Molly’s Cupcakes. Fun fact! Molly’s Cupcakes was the first place I saw Lilli when I moved to New York. 

Molly’s Cupcakes had all of its charm in tact. But even better, they still had pumpkin spice to add to your coffee! I’m a slut for pumpkin spice every day of the year and ordered without hesitation. 

Lilli and mine’s conversation was fast paced. She had had a busy week of auditioning and I had just hosted the most emotionally demanding comedy show of my life. The contrast between our stories was stark; Lilli had a magical elevator ascent into a dream casting office. At my show, which is at a dog friendly cafe, a pit bull had relieved themself on the seats ten minutes before we were supposed to start. Tale as old as time. 

-Ellington

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This week Ellington and I met in the subway station at W4 Street and were able to track one another down after hearing the same talented drummer. Not knowing which coffee shop to attend, we travelled towards the smaller side streets and landed on Molly's Cupcakes, which we had sat down in about a year ago.

Molly's Cupcakes has chained swings in their shop, which are a lot of fun to sit on even though you can't swing very much. Ellington and I caught up about life and how he and Brendan had finally found a great new apartment! Yay! I treated myself to a mini cupcake for having a very successful audition that created lots of stress.

Unfortunately, we had to keep our meeting short because I had to head to work. Ellington and I took the subway together towards work, but made sure we took a pit stop at St. Kilda's because we had forgotten to take our photo for the previous week. Where will we go next week??

-Lilli

 Milk Bar 3.28.19

It was my idea to have us go to Milk Bar in the East Village. It was that kind of March weather that doesn’t invite you to spend your day outside but nevertheless will provide for those who’d like to.  So I chose Milk Bar because there’s no seating and there are many corners in the East Village that I love to explore. I also was specifically craving a Crack Pie latte. 

We drifted through the avenues to settle at my favorite community garden, on 6th between B & C. I told Lilli about a show I had on Tuesday that I was convinced I was going to bomb. On the lineup, I was sandwiched between a comic who had been on Fallon and a comic who had been on Colbert. But my mantra for those situations is just to remind myself, “You do this now. You said you were going to do it, so don’t stop doing it.” 

Lilli had had a pleasant week, she informed me as I walked her to one of the coolest stores in the city; Tokio 7. Tokio 7 is a consignment store that features Moschino Couture for purchase among many other things. It has to be seen to be believed. Lilli found many dresses she fell in love with; it reminded me of the times we’d gone shopping in Santa Barbera a few years ago. I will close with a sentence describing that time, a sentence that is so sad and dated that it can only be true: The last time Lilli and I were in Santa Barbara, we spent an hour discussing who we were right for in A Chorus Line in an American Apparel. 

-Ellington

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Ellington chose our exciting spot this week... MILK BAR! Sadly, they have nothing gluten free, so I spiced up my tea game with something fruity and flavorful. We took a lovely walk around the East Village and Ellington showed me some of his favorite spots.

It was a beautiful day, lots of sun and it was starting to get warm. Well, warm for New York in March. Our first stop was a community garden. It was so beautiful and peaceful. We sat there for a while and caught up. We both had some stresses we needed to get off our chest, but also some celebrations. Ya know, balance.

After that, Ellington took me to one of his favorite vintage spots. The clothes were to die for, but sadly we are both poor, so we browsed and then parted from the fashion icons we could have been. This was one of my favorite meetings. I have a new love for the East Village. Thanks El!

-Lilli

 Café Lalo 4.4.19

I arrived to Cafe Lalo super early, my sketch group had finished filming ahead of schedule. Which is to say I arrived before Lilli. I made sure I told the server that someone was coming. Not because it was important to me that he knew, but Cafe Lalo being a romcom destination, I wanted to cultivate this atmosphere that I was some sort of tragic Meg Ryan. 

The topic of conversation was lively. I was riding high being in the middle of a week of standup shows that all showcased my songwriting! I showed off to Lilli a pseudo-80s rock anthem I had been commissioned to write for a GLOW recap show. I include all of these details because, in talking about theme songs, Lilli committed the verbal atrocity of telling me that she had never heard the theme song to THE NANNY!!! I wanted to kick her out in one of those…crushing scenes.

Lilli and I flirted with the idea of a cross country road trip to California. The server told us about his side hustle at Sunglass Hut. All topic of conversation pointed to our status as plebeians. Which is highly ironic because at Cafe Lalo, a croissant is roughly seventy five dollars before tax.

I could rag on Cafe Lalo some more. However, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t wonderful.

-Ellington

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Imagine... A handsome man in a sports jacket sitting at a cafe table with one, singular red rose and a copy of Pride and Prejudice. In comes a girl ready to find her match. She takes a quick glance around the room and finds her best friend, but that butthead doesn't have the red rose or the book to help her live out her "You've Got Mail" fantasies. RUDE! Although, Ellington does look quite handsome in his sport jacket.

Today we met at Cafe Lalo, the famous cafe on the Upper West Side known for its cameo in "You've Got Mail." It is one of my favorite spots because the ambiance is lovely, but they also have delicious pies and cheesecake. Ellington and I filled each other in on our lives and how crazy and busy they are. I learned that El has a talent for theme songs, therefore I told him I must have my own.

After leaving the cafe, we walked towards Central Park together admiring The Museum of Natural History. We talked about Broadway stars we wish we were as lucky as and Ellington told me about some more fun projects he is working on. Where will we go next week? Any recommendations?

-Lilli

 Financier Patisserie 4.11.19

I do this thing where I know exactly where it is I want to go to in the city but I have no idea what the place is called or its address. Y’know, the things you need when you’re trying to coordinate with someone. I stopped into this lovely café a year ago on a whim to meet a friend who was babysitting a child near Hanover Square. In 2019, I just remembered it was near Hanover Square. So I’m sure Lilli had very little faith in me when I told her “Shoot for Hanover Square and hopefully I’ll have found it by the time you get there.” Fortunately it all worked out and this terrible habit will continue!

Financier is absolutely adorable! What I find so interesting about FiDi is that it is touristy but there are pockets that are seemingly immune. This place is one of them! Nothing much but a few stray tourists who are clearly thankful for the outlets and accessible wifi, old women that I aspire to be, and picaresque cakes that look delicious but laughably small.

Lilli told me of the things she has often had to say to straight men with fragile egos (a species which saturates show business) and I felt sorry for women everywhere. It was only fitting, then, on our walk back to the subway we were to run into the statue of the little girl. No, not that statue of the little girl. No, not the other statue of another little girl, that one’s wearing a tutu. Yes, yes. THAT statue of the little girl.

-Ellington

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Bonus!!!!

Bonus!!!!

Today Ellington and I met at the Financier in the, wait for it... Financial District! When I walked into the cafe, my day was immediately brightened. It was gloomy outside and I had been inside all day taking care of my very sick boyfriend, but this cafe had so much light and happy colors! We sat at a very cute table just close enough to the counter where you could see the perfectly displayed desserts. Oh, they were tempting, but today was a tea only day.

Ellington caught me up on his creative adventures of the week and I informed him of mine. Unfortunately, it was a very short meeting, but there was excitement en route to the subway! We came across the Fearless Girl statue! I am embarrassed to say I had not seen her and all her glory yet, so I made Ellington take a photo of me and the statue once the parade of 5 year old girls took their photos. Ellington had a great time pointing that out. Anyway, check out the uplifting and dessert enchanting Financier!

-Lilli

 Zafra 4.19.19

Big news for the brand today!!! Let’s get coffee  is expanding to the far off exotic land of Hoboken, New Jersey. Land of the boss of cakes. 

Lilli is looking to move to Hoboken (but we still love her). As this was her first foray in the apartment hunt, she asked me to accompany her. The place we saw WAS gorgeous. It really is impressive; in Hoboken you can get a backyard, two floors, washer/dryer, wine cellar, bidet, and a bowling alley for only $2 a month. 

After the viewing we found a Cuban restaurant to get coff-LUNCH. It is at this point I must disclose to you that I was legally dead. It had been a demanding week of moving and my body was like, “Sleep you FOOL.” So I ordered soup with Lilli and was very subdued. Her observation was that low energy Ellington is just regular energy everyone. 

But we survived and I promise you I am back to my annoying self! 

-Ellington

I’m absolutely dying in this picture

I’m absolutely dying in this picture

Ellington indulged me this week as we took a field trip to Hoboken, NJ! I recently discovered how lovely and quiet Hoboken is and since then have been searching for a cute apartment. I finally found one that I had to take a look at, but was terrified of being kidnapped and murdered if I went alone, so I made Ellington go.

We met in Greeley Square Park and hopped on the PATH train to Hoboken. When we got the apartment, the realtor was there waiting for us. He brought us up to the apartment and I immediately fell in love with the place. I asked my questions, took some photos, and Ellington kindly stood by supporting me.

We asked the realtor where to get a tasty lunch and he recommended a Cuban place around the corner called Zafra. We sat down outside and ordered a delicious meal!

At one point I went inside the restaurant and when I came back Ellington had his head resting on the table. Now, if you know Ellington, he is always high energy and for the first time ever I was seeing him at a normal human energy level. He had a horrible cold and yet still came out to NJ with me. Ellington is a true and wonderful friend. I love you, El.

-Lilli

 DUB Pies 4.24.19

People, I present to you an Odyssey! Not included in this segment is Lilli’s brave sojourn from Harlem to my place in Park Slope. I know what you’re thinking, “You Monster! It’d be quicker to fly to Dallas, Tx.” I had just moved in and was excited for her to see the dig! Later in the week, Brendan and I will be throwing a housewarming party which will be so fun and loaded with snacks from Brendan and I’s fav food spot: Vedge.

I digress. Lilli came and I showed her my favorite spots in the park. The Audobon Center with its gilded age fantasy. The Lefrak area where the lake is gorgeous. Really, I have no jokes here. Simply blank verse in praise of Prospect Park. I mean, there were turtles bathing in sunlight even. I could go into more detail about Lilli’s experience of the park but I’ll just let you read her entry.

We then walked over to DUB Pies, a meat pie shop down the street from my place! And it was fun! As it always is when you show people something you like, it was so fun to bring Lilli to my neighborhood and see her enjoy it.

I then took her back to my apartment and we chilled on a $1300 couch that Brendan scammed from a startup and got for FREE. Okay, I’ll STOP bragging.

-Ellington

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This week Ellington and I met at his apartment to go for a run in the park. I don't know what possessed me to suggest this idea, but I did and we ran. Ellington and Brendan's new apartment is beautiful and welcoming. You can look right out the window at Prospect Park, which is such a treat in this city.

He took me down his usual path to a lovely spot that helps you get away from the city and it's unwanted smells. I was nervous to go running with El because it's not my favorite, but I have gotten better over the years. We ran our first section and as we slowed down I began to feel like I was dying. For some reason, my uterus decided to reject my exercise due to it being that time of the month. Thank goodness for El and his patience, he was so supportive and stood by my side as it felt like I was being stabbed in my uterus. He distracted me talking about his new job and how the transition was going. Ellington is one of the hardest workers I know and has had some pretty shitty jobs. He deserves a good break with all his talent and discipline.

Once the pain subsided, we walked through the park on our way to our second destination, DUB Pies. This pie shop is small and awesome! They have a large selection of meat pies that make your mouth water. Ellington and I each had a breakfast pie with eggs and bacon. So delicious! I highly recommend visiting their shop. But guys, seriously, two weeks in a row of El being the real MVP!!!

-Lilli

 NYPL-Library of the Performing Arts 5.2.19

The Library of the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center is my sanctuary. Much in the same way oxygen is needed for trees, I need that library. WhenEVER I am on the Upper West Side, that library is there to let me use their bathroom. I have begun many an unfinished writing project in the study area. Before I even lived in the city, I would make it to the library, after walking through the De Stijl plaza. If ever I feel unimportant, I go to this library.

So imagine my shock when Lilli told me she had never been there before! Especially when there’s a café on the second floor! The sojourn was required.

After our tour, we sat outside in the arbor and caught up. Lilli told me about Maine and her family. I told Lilli of my and Brendan’s housewarming party. The party was RAUCOUS in that two guests disappeared into the bathroom for over twenty minutes. I feel like when that happens, you know you’ve achieved some level of Russell Brand. Sidebar: Are we still referencing Russell Brand?

Finally, Lilli and I stopped in a Lulu Lemon to window shop. Lilli asked my opinion on a bag and I told her it’d be great for the next time she’s on the moon. Hashtag FRIENDSHIP!

-Ellington

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Ellington played tour guide today for me at the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center. I've been meaning to go there since I moved to New York, but auditions, work, and life happen. I felt very prepared for this exciting adventure with my fresh haircut. 

We walked into the library and they had some great photos and props on display from past productions. He told me where to find the best books, but the most important stop was the floor where you can watch Broadway shows. Security is intense up there! They are not playing around with those Broadway archives.

We stopped at the little cafe cart in the library before sitting outside to catch up on our recent adventures. Ellington told me about his marvelous house warming party. I was so sad to miss it, but I know I'll be there soon with wine and a good time. We talked about his new job and how it's quite similar to Princeton high end restaurants, not always a good thing from a server's perspective. I had no idea how crazy the politics can be in that kind of setting. I talked to Ellington about some important life and career decisions I'd been pondering.

Life is intense, which is why it's important to have great friends to get coffee with once a week.

-Lilli

 Modern Bread and Bagel 5.10.19

Modern Bread and Bagel is a hateful establishment. My hyperbole is necessitated by the fact this place so boldly offers any bagel with cream cheese for the price of $5 on their sign board. HOWEVER, when I proceeded to checkout (as you do) I was charged $10.57 !!! Did Pythagoras die for such a desecration of math?

Lilli arrived after my strife. She was more in love with the city than when we last spoke, which I was happy to hear! I am such a fan of Lilli, it bogs me to hear whenever New York is being mean. In fact, we were so in love with the city we decided to move the coffee date away from the third circle of hell (modern bread and bagel) and into Central Park!

I throw shade at Central Park because my park in Brooklyn is so much better. However, as Lilli and I approached the ramble, we did appreciate the expanse of a park that is synonymous with the New York experience.

-Ellington

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Ellington and I met at one of my new favorite spots this week. Modern Bread and Bagel! I stumbled upon it one morning when I needed breakfast before a hair appointment. I walked in hoping they'd have something gluten free and it turns out the whole restaurant is gluten free!! So exciting! They have some delicious bagels and treats.

It was very busy when I got there. I ordered my bagel and tea and sat with El. He was very upset that he was charged more for an everything bagel. Everything bagels are at the top of the bagel food chain! However, I do agree that it was a bit expensive. If you're a poppy seed lover like me, then you don't have to worry about the extra charge. Ellington told me about some wonderful writing he's been working on. I told him about my thrilling audition life.

When it got far too crowded for us to enjoy our time together, we decided to leave and walk through Central Park. It was the perfect day to walk through park because the temperature was in the high 60s and sunny. Our meeting this week was the best way to start the morning.

-Lilli

 Stumptown Coffee Roasters 5.17.19

To quote a wise philosopher, if you stay ready, you ain’t got to get ready. So I stayed ready for Tiffany’s as I seamlessly transitioned to the views of the West Village. Actually, in all truth, I wanted to look good because this was Brendan’s last day of Grad School responsibilities and we were going out to celebrate in the evening. What? A girl can’t be practical.

Lilli and I caught up from the past week. Since last meeting, I had experienced the Camp exhibit at the MET which IS great and very enjoyable. But what I found the most shocking is that there is exhibit of Abstract Expressionism right next door with the most iconic moments in modern art; Flavin, Pollock, even Rothko! And YET; While there was a line all the way into nineteenth century American romanticism just get into the Camp exhibit, the activity around the Abstract Expressionism was about as active as…well, one of Rothko’s paintings.

WOW that was a labored sentence to get one art history joke in. I’m not even entirely sure I punctuated it properly. If you’re into that thing, plz help.

That was a tangent. The pocket of time which I spent with Lilli occurred miraculously during the only point in the day when it wasn’t raining. Which I think is a testament to how much sunlight is contained within Lilli.

-Ellington

I was dressed for TIFFANY’S baby

I was dressed for TIFFANY’S baby

There was a bit of confusion this week. Ellington and I had planned on meeting at Tiffanys to have breakfast at Tiffanys, however, I forgot I had a dance class and would not have enough time to go home and shower and come back to meet Ellington before work that evening. I refuse to visit Tiffanys while looking sweaty and disgusting. So, we met at Astor Place to scope out a new spot.

We ended up walking to Greenwich Village to Stumptown Coffee Roasters. It had stopped raining just in time for us to enjoy our drinks outside. Ellington showed me a screenplay he's been working on and it is so lovely!

We continued our date by shopping in the best Goodwill, according to El. Then we checked out a couple of vintage shops that were way out of our price range. It's always fun to look though.

-Lilli