“There are places that are well designed and there are those places that are designed with love; this is the latter and you feel that when you’re here.”
There are very few places in the world where one can feel positive energy and places that magically expand your mind, imagination and will power. I found that in the most unlikeliest of places; Balancero Cafe in Astoria. This is a place where everyone will greet you as you walk in, not just the owners. A place where you will feel welcomed with a natural embrace; not an artificial “hello, how are you” type of greeting. It’s actually amazing to me how much love and good vibes one can feel in a new place where I’ve never been to before such as this. It’s a vibe I’ve only ever felt in my hostel experiences – and even those were very far and few in the most intimate of experiences I’ve had in the most remote regions of the world.
I went here to meet two good friends of mine, Zoran and Shone, who happen to be partners and owners of the amazing Balancero Cafe. Prior to this, we’ve met a few times at the OK Cafe and Roots Theory Juice Bar on Ditmars Ave and I immediately felt the positive energy and good vibes from these two and said to myself “I have to make time to go see their place!”. Prior to going there, I saw pictures of the place on google maps but as soon as I walked in, the energy I felt simply cannot be photographed or even written down and expressed. Even as I write this, the words simply cannot be combined into a sentence to express the feelings I felt when I was in there.
My intentions were to stay for 30 min. and have a simple coffee to catch up with friends but my subconscious knew that wasn’t going to happen. I dropped my bag at the nearest corner I could find and immediately made myself feel at home. The first 15-20 min I was there, I couldn’t stop myself from admiring every single corner of this tiny, hidden and beautifully designed coffee shop. There are places that are well designed and there are those places that are designed with love; this is the latter and you feel that when you’re here.
“Sometimes the invisible ingredients are just as important, if not more important, then the physical ingredients … Zoran and Shone understand this perfectly.”
The fresh smell of coffee beans and warmly toasted bread mixed perfectly with the positive energy of the people inside. Sometimes the invisible ingredients are just as important, if not more important, then the physical ingredients that a small business owner is presenting to his/her customers. Zoran and Shone seem to understand and incorporate it beautifully into the overall experience they give each and every person; a perfectly balanced formula that occurs naturally.
Notice that I have not even mentioned the sandwich or the latte I’ve had there yet; simply because I had so many other experiences and senses that were stimulated well before my taste buds were. Just before I was going to finally sit down and sip my latte, I was presented with yet another beautiful sensation; the sight of a perfectly made latte served in a beautiful large white cup. I loved the sight of it so much that it took me 15 min. to finally bring myself to hold up the warm cup with both hands and take my first sip. Again, like their name suggest, there was a perfect balance of all the good ingredients needed for a perfect latte. Shone was a magician behind the counter and his passion for coffee was poured into the cup he presented to me as well as every other cup he prepared for everyone else in the shop.
With just as much passion and love, Zoran began to make warm sandwiches for myself and others who were laughing and enjoying each others company. I’m not great with food descriptions but I’ll try my best. Warm high quality, high fiber bread was filled with thinly sliced smoked turkey, fresh avocados and hard boiled eggs. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking from here.
Balancero had this addictive grip on me in which I just didn’t want to leave. I could have stayed there all day. I postponed my work for as long as I could but knew it was important that I did not neglect it, so I forced myself to pack up and was on my way. On my way out, we exchanged hugs and laughs and I immediately looked forward to my next trip here with eager anticipation. As I mentioned in the beginning of this message, I have only ever felt this feeling of connection when I have traveled to the most remote areas of the world and connected like this so well with strangers. It’s happened to me on desert camps in the Moroccan Sahara, in fireplace warmed huts in the Cotopaxi National Park in Ecuador, just to name a few. When I walked out of Balancero, I forgot for a second that I was still in Astoria. I came in for a coffee and walked out an experience that was bursting to be shared with the world.
Written with love and sincerity,
Founder / Owner / CEO
I AM NYC Small Business