So Where Can You Get the Best New York City Coffee?
Indeed, “where to get the best New York City coffee?” is a question for the ages. It is also an issue that is hotly disputed all across the boroughs of New York City.
But You May Wonder, “Why?”:
Well, New Yorkers take their coffee very seriously, like pretty much everything else in life. Therefore, each and every New Yorker has an allegiance to a specific coffee shop. Deviate from this shop and you may lose a friend for life.
Nah, coffee isn’t life or death but it’s pretty close. However, I bet you know that because if you’re reading this post, then chances are that you LOVE coffee almost as much as I do.
I often refer to coffee as the nectar of the Gods since I loathe mornings and literally cannot string together a coherent sentence until this perfect, caffeine-laden, elixir of life hits my life (Shout out to the power of espresso).
When you’re traveling, you don’t really wanna pop into a Starbucks because let’s be real, Starbucks isn’t an accurate reflection of the local, New York City coffee scene (more like an accurate representation of the evils of Capitalism. But alas, you didn’t come here for my mumblings about that).
New York City does have a Starbucks on just about every corner, but there are also some pretty amazing, independent coffee shops here that serve a fantastic latte in a quirky atmosphere that will leave you scratching your head going, “Starbucks? Starbucks who?”
It Gets Better:
Quick, read on and find out how you can win a million dollars from this post!
You’re smart and I bet that you weren’t fooled. But since you’re here ANYWAY, might as well check out these fifteen wicked awesome coffee bars that are known as some of the best New York coffee shops..
***Some other, famous New York City coffee shops include Voyager Espresso, Blue Bottle Coffee, Third Rail Coffee, Black Fox Cofee Co., Frisson Espresso (Maybe the Best Italian Coffee NYC) and so many more. I’m sure some of these coffee shops in NYC are amazing, but I can’t actually endorse something I haven’t tried. I know me and my silly ethics. So lame.
***Looking for some great New York City pastries or desserts to go with that cup of Joe? Then definitely hit up such dessert icons as Union Fare, Ovenly, Milk Bar, Doughnut Plant, and so much more.
Go On…Hit Me with Your Picks for the Best Cup of Coffee in New York City!
1. Cha Cha Matcha (Cha Cha real Smooth. Insert inaudible musical sounds here. And it’s located on the Lower East Side)
So for anyone who doesn’t know, Matcha is NOT actually coffee. Rather, it’s a type of green tea that contains about as much caffeine as you would get in a whopping TEN cups of coffee. Talk about getting more bang for your buck. Geez.
I tend to think that Matcha tastes like glorified grass clippings since it has a bitter flavor that even eight packets of sugar can’t kill.
But Cha Cha Matcha is Different!
The Matcha here is actually good! Okay, I got a latte and threw in some sweetener but still, you can tell that they serve high-quality Matcha that doesn’t taste like lawn debris.
This franchise has multiple locations that not only serve up kick-ass tea but that also have a fun and funky design aesthetic that captures the vivacious spirit of this trendy cafe. Translation? Just think of it as an Instagram whore’s dream (And yes, I’m referring to myself. No way would I judge you that harshly).
They have a glowing, neon pink sign that illuminates the words “I love you so Matcha!” with glowing palm trees on each side. Awesome right? See, told ya it was an Instagram mecca of sorts
This place is no longer a well-kept secret (sigh), so there can be an insanely long line since fellow, wannabe social media influencers hog all the tables and take about 12,000 photos of their tea (so this place won’t be on your “Best coffee shops NYC to study” list).
Hit up the less crowded, Broome Street location. And get there early because the earlier you are, the more selfies you can take without feeling judged as a self-obsessed, vapid, social media lover who is too busy with social media to actually live life.
Right, you’re not my therapist. Whoops. My bad, moving on.
In Other News:
This is a great cafe for that friend of yours who hates coffee or who is a total health nut because their cacao coconut energy balls are amazing and actually good for you. And this is coming from someone who considers a french fry a vegetable and thinks Kale should be eliminated from the entire face of the Earth. So yeah, the food’s good.
Never Feat Though:
Cha Cha Match also serves a killer cup of coffee if Matcha really isn’t your thing. They also have super cool drink options like Red Matcha Lattes and Matcha Ice Cream. So no matter how picky your “friend” is, everyone will find something awesome to devour on this menu.
***If you are anywhere near the Flatiron Building or Washington Square Park, haul your butt over to Union Fare. They have AMAZING croissants in flavors like Birthday Cake, Red Velvet, Matcha, Fruity Pebble, etc. You need this in your life right now because it is some of the best food that I have EVER had in New York City.
2. Little Collins (Midtown)
Okay, I have no idea how to say this without being a total dick but I’m gonna try to be mildly tactful.
What do I mean?
Well, New Yorkers are not known for being the kindest, most patient people on the planet. I know, I hate to say it but we’re loud, always in a rush, sometimes angry, and can be super rude.
When I stepped into this Australian coffee and food haven, I wanted to cry. But in the good, “oh my God where has this place been all my life?” kind of way.
Not only was the Avocado Toast amazing (I also felt like less of a fat ass for eating the whole thing because it is “healthy” and yes, the portions are ENORMOUS; or normal by American standards), but everyone was Australian and super nice!
Everyone, even customers, had super fun, Australian accents. And they were so nice that someone even let me shamelessly take a picture of their coffee while I waited for mine.
The Down Side?
It is so damn crowded!
I got there at 9:00 am and there was already a line out the door (a good indication that this is one of the best New York City coffee shops). That’s why I’d suggest ordering your food ahead of time, grabbing it to go, and then devouring it at Bryant Park, if you can manage to wait that long.
3. Birch Coffee NYC (Flatiron District)
This super trendy coffee purveyor is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the 28th street subway station (Or is that just the slogan for Six Flags? Maybe both).
But it Gets Better:
Not only is the décor a hipster, urban, minimalist chic (I was by far the lamest person there. Yup, the coffee was way cooler than me too. Especially since it was iced. Haha. See, I made a funny. Okay, moving on), but the lattes here are absolutely gorgeous, and tasty too; so damn pretty that I almost didn’t want to drink mine.
Birch encourages you to ditch your cell phone, which is fine since there is no wifi there, and, gasp, interact with other patrons. Therefore, Birch has created these cute, little conversation cards that will help you chat someone up while simultaneously alleviating some of the social awkwardness that results from interacting with total strangers.
So What Do You Do?
Just pick up a conversation card with a question you like, place the card on your table, and then just wait for someone to come over (and let the magic happen). Unless you’re like me and super scared that no one will ever want to talk to you (Just throwing in a LOL so this sentence is a little less sad).
4. Toby’s Estate Coffee (Flatiron District)
No, this isn’t the name of some weird, super-secret, tea plantation in Manhattan.
This is a coffee shop that is actually operated by Strand, a famous purveyor of fine used books that EVERYONE should visit before leaving New York City.
Therefore It Makes Sense That:
This vintage style coffee shop not only produces some fantastic lattes and cappuccinos, but it is also a working bookstore too!
This store has some pretty kick ass, feminist books (and apparel) that are perfect for any rabble-rouser in training. No seriously, this wannabe feminist bought a ton of stuff that she really doesn’t need.
To Make Poor Financial Choices Like Me:
All you need to do is grab your coffee, walk through the back doorway, and poof, you’re in a well-designed bookstore that has a mildly adequate number of tables and chairs. Just be prepared to pounce on one of these bad boys if you want to actually sit and enjoy your coffee.
But Did You Know:
This bookstore actually leads you into a clothing store if you keep walking back! Cool right? Kind of like Walmart only less morally reprehensible and way more expensive.
if you’re in the market for a new wardrobe then this is the place for you. And if you’re poor like me, just leave your credit card at home so that you don’t end up with an empty bank account and a severe case of buyer’s remorse.
5. Stumptown Coffee Roasters (Flatiron District)
This coffee shop overlooks the man, the myth, the legend… the Empire State Building.
But that’s NOT All:
The coffee is excellent too. I mean, they even sell a box of water to help the environment. Lol. How awesome is that? Yup, I laughed like a Hyena when I saw this. However, back to the super serious business of coffee.
On the Down Side:
This shop is rather small with no real seating. Therefore, rather than standing there awkwardly, I suggest that grabbing your decadently, delightful (See, alliteration! I really did go to college) cup of coffee and walking through the back door.
Inside this, not so mysterious, doorway of wonder is a ton of cushy chairs that are actually in the adjoining hotel; a great spot if you want to grab a hearty cup of coffee and then just biz-ounce right outta there.
6. Meow Parlour (One of the best cute New York City coffee shops. Found in Chinatown)
So unless you’re living in some sort of alternate universe that blocks out and all pop culture trends, then you know that cat cafes are totally a “thing” right now.
As a Result:
I had to hop on the pop culture bandwagon because, well, I’m a wannabe “social media influencer”.
I make it sound like I didn’t like Meow Parlour. However, as much as I loather conforming to the masses, it was a pretty fun experience. Sure, I didn’t actually drink any coffee or ingest any food per say, but I did get to pet a ton of kitties and had a wicked awesome time doing so.
All the kitties there are up for adoption so this cafe actually helps these stray kitties find some lovely new homes.
But How Does it Work:
All you have to do is go online and make a reservation for a 30-minute time slot.
Again for the Cheap Seats:
You MUST make a reservation! This place is SUPER popular, not surprisingly, and you don’t want to show up and be unable to experience all the kitty awesomeness within.
When You Arrive:
All you have to do is check in at the front desk, sign a waiver, take your shoes and coat off, go over the rules, and sanitize your hands. From here, all you have to do is brace yourself and stroll right into kitty paradise.
You basically chill out, order some food, pet some cats, and live the dream for about a half hour. Just keep track of the time because they won’t remind you when your half an hour is up. And if you go over your time limit, you’ll be charged another $10.
It’s for a good cause and a unique way to enjoy the eclectic cafe culture that NYC has to offer.
7. Ninth Street Espresso (Upper East Side)
Minimalist in decor and menu, this company’s motto is that good coffee should be simple and easy to order.
At Ninth Street Espresso it really is. The offer hot coffee, cold coffee, espresso, and espresso with milk. Yup, that’s it. They do offer some pastries but you won’t find much else here. Just a simple menu that is done extremely well.
This quiet coffee shop is a great place to relax if you’re planning to spend the day meandering along Museum Mile in NYC. Sure, it’s a little weird that this shop isn’t on Ninth Street, but with coffee this good, they can name it whatever they want.
And Added Bonus:
They have locations ALL over the city. And yes, they really do have a location that is ACTUALLY on ninth street.
8. CoDex Books and Think Coffee (Bowery)
Who doesn’t want to enjoy their coffee while watching naked people dance across the walls? Am I right?
Wait, Let Me Back Up:
I’m gonna slow my roll because I swear, this place isn’t some weird, live art exhibit from the Museum of Sex. Rather, Think Coffee adorns the walls of some of their shops with rather suggestive art that I sagely pretended to know the true meaning of.
I had no idea what the hell the art meant. But they serve an awesome Matcha latte and have created a beautifully vivacious cafe that is both unique and enticing to anyone walking by.
And For the Book Lovers:
This cafe is also attached to CoDex Used Book Shop, a small bookstore off of Bowery that is a fun place to pursue for any hidden gems of the literary world… or some chick lit. Whatever floats your boat because, in my humble opinion, reading should be fun.
9. Pietro Nolita (Nolita)
Don’t tar and feather me but Pietro Nolita isn’t a cafe in the traditional sense of the word.
I’m being totally weird so I’ll just come out and say it. Pietro Nolita is a restaurant that serves take away coffee.
So Why is it on this list?
Well, not only is the coffee delicious but it is served in a to-go cup that says, “Pink as F@$k.” Yup, it’s as amazing as it sounds. Plus, there is bright pink splattered across every inch of the restaurant.
Between the kickass to go cup and the insanely beautiful decor, this place really is an Instagrammer’s paradise. Just be forewarned that they open at around 11 am on Saturdays. So don’t get there super early because then you’ll feel like a total moron as you just sit there, waiting around (or maybe that’s just me).
One More Thing:
Don’t feel super weird walking into this restaurant and getting just a cool ass, “to go” cup of coffee. Trust me, the staff are super nice and know exactly what you want and why.
Let’s be real, you’re not the first person who came here to snag an Instagram of their badass coffee cup (Behold the power of Instagram. Scary huh?).
10. Maman (SoHo)
The question you should ask about Maman is what isn’t good here? And the answer is nothing. No really! Between the vintage, country-store like decor and the amazing avocado and egg toast, this place is the very definition of amazing.
But it Gets Better:
Let’s say you want something a little fancier than a cup of coffee while sitting amongst the rustic furniture and the whitewashed walls. Well, no problem! Not only do they have an informal cafe but they also have a formal dining area where you can sit and enjoy a traditional brunch menu and full table service.
Even though Maman has multiple locations across the city, this cafe and restaurant are always crowded. That’s why I highly recommend visiting as early as possible.
I don’t mean 6:00 am. Nah, New York City is the type of city that wakes up late on the weekend. Therefore, if you get here by 10:00 am, or even 11:00 am, you should be fine. Unless you like hordes of people and are a total social butterfly. Not this chick right here though, I’m weird and kind of anti-social.
As a Result:
I loathe crowds and try and get to Maman as early as humanly possible so that I can avoid any unwanted human interaction. Yup, I’m super weird, party of one.
11. Happy Bones (Nolita)
As much as I love Happy Bones and the bright, chic, minimalist style that this cafe embraces, this is not the place that you want to hang out at with ten of your closest friends.
Pretty simple, there are a whopping three tables and nine chairs in the entire cafe. Therefore, finding a seat at this popular Nolita coffee shop can be tricky, to say the least.
I made the mistake of ordering a coffee to stay and had to wait a solid twenty minutes for a seat. I was one of those weirdos, standing there awkwardly and staring everyone down, silently willing them to vacate their seat, with my non-existent talent for mind control.
So Moral of the Story?
You need to check out Happy Bones, but visit on a nice-ish day so you can grab your coffee, or tea, of choice and head to one of the eclectic, community gardens that dot the landscape of this ever trendy, New York City neighborhood.
12. Café Grumpy New York, NY (Between Chinatown and Little Italy with some of the best coffee beans NYC has to offer)
Besides the name and the cute little grumpy face emoji that is this store’s ultra awesome logo, there really is nothing grumpy about this fantastic coffee space.
Not only do they serve innovative latte flavors, like Rose and Cardamom, but the staff is also very friendly and the sparse cafe space is expertly broken up by pops of color from the bright, modern art displays that elegantly adorn the walls.
Just Be Aware:
A lot of New York City cafes are now adopting a no cash policy. So no matter where you go, always make sure that you carrying a working debit card or credit card (as you scour the streets for the ever elusive, perfect cup of coffee).
13. Sweet Moment Cafe (Chinatown)
Not only is there a super Instagramable, neon sign that reads, “sweet moment”, but this Chinatown coffee, tea, and dessert Holy Grail (think Bingsoo, waffles, cake, ice cream, etc.) is well decorated and super spacious. So no worries, you will definitely find a place to sit, even at 1:00 pm on a Saturday (I was totally amazed by this. I felt like I had just seen a unicorn).
If I’m honest, you’re not really here for the coffee. Sure, they have coffee on the menu but what you really want to order is their tea art! Seriously the most adorable beverage that I have ever drank in my entire life.
Okay, the beverage art that I am referring to is known as their cream art. This cold brew, coffee or black tea drinks come in fun flavors like chocolate, matcha, taro, and red velvet flavors; all served with milk and some whipped cream on top.
The drinks are yummy but super sweet. So honestly, the real draw here is that you can take a picture of a latte that looks like the cutest little bear that you ever did see. I mean really, I almost couldn’t drink it because it was so adorable.
But you Know What they Say?
I did it all for the gram. Oh God, I’m turning into one of those social media obsessed, self-involved idiots who spend thirty minutes taking selfies in the bathroom. Oh well, I’ll worry about that tomorrow and enjoy my cute AF bear drink. Aww, my precious…
14. Bluestone Lane (Upper East Side)
Bluestone Lane is another Aussie coffee chain that makes the cut.
This cafe has less of an authentic, Australian feel then Little Collins. Sure, the signs all have the word “mate” on them, but no one there was actually Australian. And while people were nice, they weren’t AS friendly as the Aussies who are employed at Little Collins.
That doesn’t mean this place is bad! Quite the contrary actually. Tea? Good! Avocado-smash toast? Good! Bathroom? A little weird because it’s in the church next door but nice (Anyone see the show Friends and get this Joey reference? No, okay, moving on quickly).
One Thing Though:
I was there around 1:00 pm on a Saturday and NOT shockingly, it was packed (so not one of the best coffee shops to work in NYC). Therefore, just try and go at an off time and you should be fine.
This place is one of those weird, new-age(y) cafes that doesn’t believe in cash anymore so just make sure you have a credit card of sorts on you. Somehow I don’t think they’de take kindly to a huge IOU. They’re nice but not THAT nice because, in the end, everyone wants to get paid.
***Located right down the street from the MET. So a great alternative to the insanely expensive cafeteria that serves surprisingly good food in the basement of this iconic museum.
15. Prologue Coffee Room (Chinatown)
I fully believe that the greatest finds are the ones that are totally spontaneous, like my trip to Prologue Coffee Room.
Why do I say This?
Well, I stopped here because my phone was dying since I had stupidly forgotten my cell phone power bank at home.
I just HAD to find a place to charge my phone because if you don’t post something on Instagram then it OBVIOUSLY didn’t happen at all (Just so we’re clear, this is all being said with extreme sarcasm).
When I walked in, I was totally surprised. Not only did they have a delicious assortment of scones to choose from (the pear was amazing), but they served rich, smooth cup of coffee that had no gross, bitter aftertaste. Plus, the store had a vintage vibe that made this cafe a charming place to sit back, relax, and enjoy an assortment of interesting teas if coffee makes you wince in disgust.
This Concludes MyShort List of Delicious New York City Coffee Shops
I pride myself on being almost bluntly honest, so I’ll be the first one to point that this list is in no way exhaustive since it ONLY consists of coffee shops found in Manhattan.
Well, There’s a Good Reason for That:
And no, it’s not because the remainder of New York City is completely devoid of good coffee. Rather, there is an assortment of fine coffee shops scattered throughout all five boroughs. I just didn’t list them all because if I did, this post would be even longer than it already is.Oh, and I do have some semblance of a social life… Somewhere..
I thought I’d stick to Manhattan. Not only is this the borough that most tourists find themselves exploring, but I also didn’t want to create an insanely long post that no one gives a hoot about. I mean, no one might actually read this. Then all the hours I spent drinking exquisite coffee in trendy little shops might go to waste.
Not really since the “research” I did for this post was super delicious and fun, with a few fantastic Instagram photos sprinkled in for good measure. So needless to say, I didn’t suffer for my art, or for my non-profound drivel as some of my non-fans refer to it.
I encourage you to follow in my footsteps and embrace the coffee awesomeness found all over New York City. I mean, New York City is huge so you need a ton of caffeine to muster up the strength to see it all, right? Exactly, glad we could agree that all this coffee is just for energy purposes (wink wink).
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