Coffee & Kindness



March 4, 2021 | Amplifying Health & Wellness, Amplifying Student Voices

Isamarie Cortez is a 1st-year student majoring in Liberal Arts – Social Science & Humanities. “I had completed my first semester at Guttman and had taken a semester off. I wrote this poem during this time off. I enjoy writing and poems as a form of art therapy that keeps me mentally strong. It is interesting to look back as this was before COVID and how different things are now in NYC. It is almost as it is from a time long gone, and I  wonder if it will ever come back.”


More Than Just Coffee

In the heart of New York City, Midtown Manhattan stands a breakfast cart.

In fact, there are many breakfast carts, many food carts, food trucks

Everyone’s moving fast, moving-moving-moving at a fast & fierce pace Rush hour in NYC is at times another level

Hundreds & thousands of people traveling into the city for a number of purposes

School, work, appointments, etc.

In times of the rush hour roar of the morning sometimes one wants something quick without waiting in a really long line

Maybe you also want to save a couple of dollars as well

Short & sweet & yummy to eat

What more can someone who is in a rush want in the morning!

How about a warm, gentle genuine smile?

So warm & gentle you can see right into the person’s soul

Kindness in the eyes

Kindness in the smile

Kindness in the soul

The first time I stopped by was just down the street from the college in which I attended

I was curious on how the iced coffee was, also wanted to try a cheaper option

As I stopped by & ordered my coffee- this kind person gave me free piece of a donut

Figured it was just a kind gesture, said thank you & moved on with my day

A large, iced coffee with milk & sugar…….

As I went back a second time early in the morning, I had only planned to purchase an Iced coffee only

The second I walked up to the window the man whose face lit up with a bright gentle smile, greeted me with a “good morning, nice to see you again”

I asked for the same thing I ordered last time

And as I started to look for my wallet to pay him, I see home grab a small brown bag and say to me with his accent “here you go” & gave me hand signal as to say it was free of charge

This was now the second time I only paid for the coffee but not the pastry

I was surprised yet again, it made my morning yet again as well

Something small yet so big

I started to notice in class that there were other students with the same Iced coffee and brown bag

Turns out he gives out free pastries out to the college students

I went a few weeks without going to the breakfast cart, one would think that he wouldn’t remember me, as I approached his cart his eyes & face lit up with a big bright smile “Hey long time no see, what would you like today”

I couldn’t believe he remembered me, but somehow, he did

I ordered my “usual” and said I would like a donut- then I see him grab a brown bag but instead of just adding the donut to the bag he adds another donut, croissants, a banana, one time I ended up having two small brown bags filled with pastries

He did this for all of the students that order from him, soon he moved his cart from down the street to right in front of the college

There were even times in which I felt a bit guilty for buying other drinks & walking past his cart in the morning

It felt weird to feel bad, but I did

Eventually I started to wonder what his past was before.

What did he do for a living before this?

Does he have a family?

What country was he from?

Why or if he chose to have a street cart?

Does he like doing this or is it just a side gig?

Many questions that perhaps I will never know the answer to….

I will only wonder!

With his grey beard, gentle warm smile, the hat that he would always wear…. I could only wonder….

5 minutes that’s all it was. 5 minutes of what exactly an experience that was… Yes! An experience of what?

An experience of kindness. 5 minutes is all it could take to make someone’s day

5 minutes of kindness

5 minutes of being in the presence of a kind human being, that I will never forget

Coffee & kindness

That’s all it was but it was so-so much more

Yes, indeed much more