New York is the heartbeat of coffee culture. With coffee houses every few blocks in some areas, almost every New Yorker has a favorite.
Coffee houses in New York are a different breed than the caffeinated nooks you might find in other parts of the country. Some are artsy, some are minimalists, some are a blend of cultures and others focus only on the art of crafting a perfect brew.
Here, coffee houses are as unique in personality and character as the people who visit them.
So, how’d we go about narrowing down our list down to a mere ten for our coffee guide?
Well, it wasn’t easy.
If we thought we could keep your attention long enough to add a few dozen more, we would’ve.
Instead, we had to think about the what the New York coffee experience is, how it is unique from other regions of the country and which establishments share our commitment to quality, integrity and ethics.
We thought this was at least a good start.
We don’t often talk about things we don’t like. We like to keep it positive.
But, to be honest, we are just not crazy about overcrowded chain coffee shops where you can never find a place to just sit and chill.
So, we picked our favorite NY Coffee joints that meet our high coffee standards and are on point when it comes to staff and atmosphere.
81 East 7th Street, Manhattan
Image Source: http://www.abraconyc.com/#/eastward/
We love people who love coffee, and that is why Abraco ranks at the top of our list.
Great coffee? Check.
Espresso as a life altering experience? Check.
Upbeat, culturally inspired atmosphere? Check.
Delicious nibbles? Check.
Cult Following? Double check!
This vibrant little east side café radiates enthusiasm about coffee and everyone that loves it. Every coffee they offer is top-notch, but the espresso is crafted with such expertise that we are hard pressed to find anything else close in the area.
Stop in for great atmosphere, hip baristas and a nibble of olive oil cake. The line outside the building is worth it, we swear.
Third Rail Coffee
240 Sullivan Street, NYC
159 Second Avenue (10th & Stuyvestant), NYC
Image Source: http://www.thirdrailcoffee.com/
With its two locations, Third Rail Coffee is rustic, simple NYC perfection.
They are serious about coffee, and equally serious about the experience.
The atmosphere is cozy and intimate. Perfectly inviting for settling in for a long overdue chat with a friend.
The coffee is smooth, and from our experience, every drink is expertly crafted by baristas that really know their stuff.
What Third Rail Coffee isn’t, is the place to go if you want a quick cup of coffee to gulp down mindlessly while scrolling through your phone or laptop.
Third Rail Coffee doesn’t have wi-fi access, so show up with your own. Or, better yet, try chilling unplugged for a bit and become part of the atmosphere of this small, local coffee shop.
Ninth Street Espresso
700 E 9th St, NYC
Image Source: http://www.ninthstreetespresso.com/alphabet-city-c11jt
Ninth Street Espresso is a NY coffee shop that we have mad respect for.
Their premise is simple and straightforward.
Great coffee. No fuss. Nothing pretentious.
This is an establishment that really gets the coffee purist.
While Ninth Street Espresso has five locations, this one in Alphabet City is our favorite. The rustic charm gets us every time.
This is the perfect spot to grab a cup of real, NY roasted coffee brewed by baristas that understand coffee to the core. A sure not-to-miss stop on your NY Coffee adventure.
10-93 Jackson Avenue, Queens
Image Source: http://sweetleafcoffee.com/jackson-ave/
How should we describe Sweetleaf, one of our favorite coffee joints in NY?
All we need to do is look at one of their signature drinks for inspiration.
“Rocket Fuel: Cold brew, chicory, maple syrup and milk.”
A little bit sweet, a little bit earthy, smooth and chill with enough character to light your ignition.
The atmosphere at Sweetleaf is laid back, but at certain points on the weekend, there can be a real bustle of traffic. We love the mildly industrial feel of huge windows and stone top tables combined with eclectic décor, but we’re coffee people so that is what really stands out for us.
These people know how to do coffee. Simple classics and specialty creations that are a far cry from the syrupy candy-bar drinks in chain shops make up their menu. Coffee with integrity…impressive.
394 Broome Street, NYC
Image Source: http://www.meltingbutter.com/nyc-cafe-find-happy-bones/
Our favorite thing about Happy Bones is that it is bare bones. Trust us, this isn’t a bad thing. The minimalist approach of this small shop lets the coffee and their skill for crafting it speak for themselves.
The owners of this shop come from New Zealand where they enjoyed and benefited from a prominent espresso culture.
Maybe that’s why Happy Bones has one of the best espressos in the city.
While we’re partial to the espresso, the tiny shop seems to have a bit of a cult following for their ice brews.
Yes, we used the word tiny to describe their location.
It is small. Smaller than many other “intimate” New York coffee houses.
What it might lack in size, it makes up for it atmosphere and character. There is a hip, artists vibe that adds to the experience. Perfect for those days when you want both coffee and a little inspiration in your cup.
214 E 10th St, NYC
Image Source: http://www.hi-collar.com/#about
Hi-Collar is dual personality western inspired Japanese coffee and cocktail bar.
During the day, Hi-collar is a one of a kind coffee experience, and at night it transforms to a classy cocktail bar.
There’s so much that we like about this place, we don’t know where to begin.
Ok, we’ll start with the coffee.
You know the standard coffee house where you might have a few drip pots to choose from, but when it comes to everything else, you have no choice in the bean or roast?
That is not Hi-Collar.
You have total control over your coffee experience. You choose the bean from their menu with options like a sweet, pear-like Boka with hints of vanilla, or their Guatemalan El Limonar, which they describe as having notes of black tea and honey graham cracker.
Their descriptions of the beans are as impressive as the list itself.
Once you decide on an origin, or their Hi-Collar blend, you choose the brew method. Anything your heart desires.
Pour overs, AeroPress or siphon, they expertly craft each one.
Looking for something on the sweet side? Skip the usual sweetened coffee drink and sip on their luscious coffee float, made from cold brewed coffee and silky gelato.
We’ll be honest. The process can be a little overwhelming for the non-coffee lover. Its ok, though. Take your time, ask questions and their skilled baristas guide you through the process. This is the place to go when you want a true coffee adventure.
Toby’s Estate Coffee
125 N 6th St, Brooklyn
Image Source: https://tobysestate.com/
There are two things that we really respect about Toby’s Estate Coffee. The first is their commitment to quality in their brew, and the second is their dedication to sharing their knowledge of coffee.
Toby’s Estate is not your typical quaint little NYC coffee shop. This place is usually abuzz with a constant flow of in and out traffic. Making this a stop on your NYC coffee tour will tell you why.
They are a small batch roaster committed to integrity and quality in every cup. Their coffee is perfectly brewed, and we’ve yet to have a cup that didn’t exceed our high expectations.
The classes that they offer cover everything from coffee basics, like home brew methods, to latte art for the creatively inspired.
Toby’s Estate Coffee is the spot for those who are serious about coffee and those who just love the stuff and want to be immersed completely in coffee culture.
128 Charles Street, NYC
Image source: http://www.theelknyc.com/about/
We love NYC.
We also love the Pacific Northwest.
What to do when you crave a little of both?
Head to the Elk for their signature cortado and a northern Pacific vibe for the best of both worlds.
The owners of the Elk place an emphasis on sustainable practices, and are committed to using local ingredients as much as possible. We feel a special kinship with the Elk for their philosophies and vision.
Another factor that puts the Elk on our list? They keep places reserved for coffee drinkers that just want to drink coffee and relax, alone or with others. The central tables are technology free, while the outer benches near the gorgeous windows are perfect when you want to soak up the pacific atmosphere while studying or working.
Box Kite Coffee
128 W 72nd St
Image Source: http://boxkitenyc.com/
We round off our New York coffee guide by saving one of the best for last.
This shop is known on the upper west side for its pour overs and smooth cold brews. We know that the quality of these crafted drinks isn’t just luck. It comes from a commitment to bringing in coffee from only the best roasters.
A daily trip to Box Kite Coffee is a journey and exploration of coffees around the world.
Box Kite Coffee has a rotating list of beans and roasters that they feature. They understand the art of discovering a quality bean and then brewing it so that the full complexity and layers of flavor come through.
They feature beans from all the best coffee growing origins in the world, that are roasted by artisans and then perfectly extracted during the brewing process.
We think this makes for an unforgettable cup of coffee.
Box Kite Coffee is small, quaint, and seating is limited. But, that’s fine with us.
Take your little bit of coffee heaven to go as you explore the character and charm of the upper west side.
What Are You Waiting For?
Now that you have our guide for the best coffee in NY, go out there and try a few. Tell us about your favorites and what you think of ours. Happy sipping!