I guess I shouldn't be surprised, considering how I have seriously considered hooking up a caffeine IV drip into my arm several of a time. #trainerproblems. It is definitely my Achilles heel.
While I've become pickier about where I choose to buy my coffee and how it is made, I am not enough of a coffee-snob to turn up my nose at a cup that's not individually brewed in a Chemex. This list does focus on local, smaller businesses, which I love supporting, and I am big on the vibes of the shop as well.
Because a lot of my work is done from my laptop, I tend to camp out in little inspiring nooks that serve great coffees and teas. Through my exploration though, I've discovered that there are definitely some spots that are not work-friendly (no Wi-Fi, not a lot of seating, too crowded), and better suited just for refreshments and snack.
Here is my honest guide to what I currently think are the best coffeeshops in downtown NYC, concentrated in the village areas and SoHo. These are not in any particular order. I'd love to hear your recommendations if you've got more for me!
*these photos have been collected starting from over a year ago, so for some places I don't have many photos and they're not the best quality. Keepin it real, dudes.
1. Maman NYC
- 239 Centre St between Broome and Grand
- WiFi: Yes- don't abuse it here.
- For: Food/Coffee with a friend, Working on your laptop for an hour- limited seating
- Vibes: It is hands down one of the coziest, quaintest spots I've found. French-country interior with a lot of hand-crafted touches. Simply beautiful. Also, their plating, custom-designed paper cups, and the tiled floors- love love love.
- The Coffee: They serve Toby's Estate coffee here, so it's wonderful quality and locally roasted coffee. For teas, they use Sloane Tea Company.
- Notes: This place is starting to blow up thanks to Instagram. Get there now before it becomes too slammed! They have some healthier snack food options like yogurt/granola, veggie and grain salads, but they are also famous for their "nutty" chocolate chip cookie- I resisted, but man, that thing looked like it's gonna be the best part of someone's day.
2. Two Hands
- 164 Mott St between Broome and Grand
- WiFi: Nope. Bring an actual book to read- what a novel idea!
- For: Food/Coffee with a friend, relaxed spot to hang out with a book
- Vibes: White-washed walls and floor-to-ceiling windows make for an airy, yet cozy space. The perfect place to unplug and read your morning paper with a fantastic cup of coffee. I also love it as a place to write- the clientele it attracts and the open space helps that creativity.
- The Coffee: Along with serving Aussie classics like flat whites, they also whip up what they call the Outback Cap- where the espresso is dusted with cocoa powder for a velvety chocolate finish. Nutmilks available.
- Notes: Classic brekkie items like the avocado toast and ricotta toast along with locally sourced coffee are poured up by a welcoming group of Aussie gentlemen that are also quite easy on the eyes.
- 55 Greenwich Ave on the corner of Perry St.
- WiFi: Nope. Although if you have TWC, you can use their hotspot.
- For: Brunch, dinner, coffee with a friend. Also serves beer and wine. Midday when it's a bit emptier, I feel comfortable camping out with a laptop here to do work for an hour or two.
- Vibes: A clean, beachy feel. Plants adorn the walls, and the recurring blue and white colors resonate with throw pillows, linen napkins, and the patio tables.
- The Coffee: Definitely one of my top favorites for quality of coffee. Flat whites, cortados, or classic brewed, you can't go wrong. Nutmilks are available, and they also have a decent variety of teas.
- Notes: If you couldn't tell, I love these Aussie cafes for the warm and welcoming service and the relaxed environment. Too many times do you feel pushed out the door in NYC coffeeshops, and here it's the opposite- this jaded New Yorker was thrown off a bit when my servers kept chatting me up but it was so nice. The vibe is also conducive to making conversation with strangers sitting by you- I've met a few wonderful new people this way!
- 400 Lafayette Street by E. 4th Street. Originally from Philly, they have 3 other NYC locations, then in Chicago, DC, and Seoul. They're apparently planning to expand to 100 new cafes over the next 5 years. Not arguing with that.
- WiFi: Nope. Sit and enjoy that coffee
- For: Coffee dates with pastries, newspaper/book reading, and to soak up that delicious coffee smell.
- Vibes: The NoHo location in particular is always bustling with warm energy, with a lot of light coming in those large windows. All their baristas are extremely knowledgable and helpful when talking about the different roasts. Beautiful cups, plates, and may I say, very Instagrammable if that's your thing.
- The Coffee: One of the best in the city. Their coffee is directly sourced, organic, and earth-conscious. They have their 4 classic blends that are the most popular: Corsica, Phocea, Nizza, and Monte Carlo (decaf).
- Notes: I love that they have another location a few blocks south on Lafayette that is right around the corner from my workplace. This is my #1 favorite place for iced coffee in the summer- they pour a shot of their delicious espresso in there, and it is caffeine central with that already-strong cold brew. They also serve hemp milk, which I haven't found at any of these other places on this list- this has been extremely helpful with my recent dietary alterations.
5. The Elk
- 128 Charles Street, by Hudson St.
- WiFi: Yes. Not a crazy amount of seating, so be respectful during peak hours.
- For: Breakfast, light lunch, coffee and pastries. Working/reading while enjoying delicious drink and food.
- Vibes: Light and airy, with floor to ceiling windows, and ample light wood fixtures around. It's got a modern, outdoors feel. I'm obsessed with those rugged wooden plank walls and the overall minimalistic feel.
- The Coffee: They serve Sightglass coffee, an awesome roaster based in San Francisco. They also carry Ovenly pastries and here is where I discovered the magic of their gluten-free salted peanut butter cookie...Hello, dreamy.
- Notes: They only opened up a few months ago, and have already gathered a following of locals for their great coffee, relaxed atmosphere, and friendly service. I definitely can get into my creative groove, being here. They also sell local artisanal goods in store and online.
- 44 Charles Street, by 7th Ave South.
- WiFi: No- bring a real book in to read!
- For: Coffee catchups with friends, a place to read your paper in the morning with your coffee.
- Vibes: When I came here for the first time on opening day, it was the perfectly warm and cozy reprieve from the aggressive cold outside. A welcoming atmosphere, and they captured the West Village feel perfectly in here.
- The Coffee: I figured after mentioning 3 coffeeshops that serve their coffee already, it was time to mention Toby's. They roast their coffee out at their Brooklyn location, and have some of the best coffee around. Their team directly sources their beans from the growers, and support environmentally conscious practices.
- Notes: They also have a Flatiron location (more for on-the-go), and their flagship in Brooklyn. I'm so happy they opened a location close to me, as it is now just about my top choice for coffee dates and meetups.
- 30 W. 8th Street, on the corner of MacDougal St
- WiFi: Yes, but it gets crowded- best not to linger for too long.
- For: Coffee catchups with friends, a place to read your paper in the morning with your coffee.
- Vibes: There is the main espresso bar, then a smaller brew bar connected next door. Exposed brick and wooden furniture, both areas exude a warm, pacific northwest vibe. It tends to get very busy with NYU students and others alike, so it's always lively.
- The Coffee: Stumptown is a pretty big player in the coffee game, and their great reputation is well-deserved. Their coffee is fantastic, thanks to their attention to detail from their transparency with their quality-based, direct-trade relationships with their growers and quality control in their facilities. They roast in their own facilities in Portland, Seattle, NYC, and LA.
- Notes: They also have a Flatiron location in the Ace hotel, which was their original location. Stumptown always brews an amazing cup of coffee, and their specialized brew bar is perfect for coffee snobs, with any coffee on the menu brewed in a Chemex, BeeHouse, French Press, Aeropress, or siphon.
- 14 Christopher Street (by Gay St). They have a few other locations, but this is my favorite.
- WiFi: Yes, downstairs in their jazz room until 7pm.
- For: Lunch, cheese/dessert/wine, coffee with a friend. Serves beer and wine in addition to a large assortment of coffees and teas. Midday when it's a bit emptier, I feel comfortable camping out with a laptop here to do work for an hour or two.
- Vibes: Feels like a West Village living room. Old vinyl players, a leather couch, and art adorn this place, with a quieter, darker jazz room downstairs.
- The Coffee: Your varietal coffee menu. They serve Toby's Estate's awesome coffee, and Bellocq Teas- I discovered my favorite Bellocq Chamomile here.
- Notes: One of my favorite coffeeshops to cozy up in during the cold weather. It's become a lot more crowded during peak times, but if you get the chance to go during non-rush hours, it's a great place to set up camp and work for awhile.
- 141 Waverly Place near 6th Avenue and Gay St. They have 10 locations all over the city, but this is the one I frequent and their first store, opened in 2003.
- WiFi: No.
- For: Coffee catchups with friends over snacks, a place to read, and feel free to do work on your laptop- just no WiFi unless you have a TWC hotspot.
- Vibes: Welcoming and unfussy, Joe is simply a great place to stop by for a solid-tasting cup of coffee. It's a good place for people who don't want the whole hooplah of individually brewed, coffee-snobbery.
- The Coffee: They roast their own single-origin and blends in their roasting plant in Red Hook since summer of 2013. While their coffee is not all organic and shade-grown, they support fair and sustainable methods to sourcing their coffee.
- Notes: For me, this is a place I like to go because they actually do not have internet. If I just have writing to do, or need to read some fitness-science material and program for my training clients, it's a great place to settle in to focus for a while. I also love their Chai, from Intelligentsia- too many chai concentrates are loaded up with way too much sugar for my liking, and this one is a bit more spicy than sweet.
- 240 Sullivan Street, near 3rd Street
- WiFi: No.
- For: Coffee catchups with friends, a place to read your paper in the morning with your coffee. Small shop without an enormous amount of seating.
- Vibes: A small and cozy shop, it's a great coffee nook. You'll see many neighborhood patrons wander in with sweatpants and their dogs for their daily morning cup of coffee
- The Coffee: They serve up both single-origin and blends of Counter Culture coffee, rotating flavors seasonally- they will do single-cup brews with a Chemex. Their teas are by Rishi, and they also serve up pastries/goodies from Balthazars, Doughnut Plant, and Ovenly.
- Notes: For me, this is much more of a get-in, get-out type of coffee shop because of the size. I wanted to mention it though, because I do tend to frequent it a lot. It is right in my neighborhood and is the perfect pitstop to grab coffee before my early morning farmer's market or Whole Foods grocery runs.
11. Gasoline Alley
- 325 Lafayette Street, near Bleecker Street. Second location at 154 Grand St.
- WiFi: No.
- For: A quick coffee date and snacks with local pastries.
- Vibes: This shop has an industrial feel, with minimal decor- in a great way. Minimal seating, and there is usually a line (but it moves quickly)
- The Coffee: They serve up Intelligentsia coffee- baristas are skilled and quick. Can't expect a rosetta on every pour, but it all tastes great.
- Notes: For me, this is much more of a get-in, get-out type of coffee shop because of the size, just like Third Rail. I love stopping by here for a quick cortado before hopping on the 6 train. In the summertime, they open up their large windows, so it is a really nice little hideaway to stop by for a few minutes or for a quick coffee meetup with a friend.
- 399 West Broadway, near Broome St.
- WiFi: Yes.
- For: Coffee with multiple friends, working on your laptop. Delicious sandwiches & salads, along with local pastries to accompany your coffee from the decently large menu.
- Vibes: Wooden benches, cedar picnic tables, and sunlight streaming through several skylight windows. It is quite busy in there, but you're usually able to score a spot.
- The Coffee: They serve up Intelligentsia coffee, but the baristas aren't as consistent as some of the other coffeeshops on this list, so your drink may depend on that.
- Notes: Service isn't quite as warm here as some other places, but my main purpose in loving this spot is really because it's a good solo workspace for me. It's not the quietest, but I can usually zone out and bang out quite a bit of work here with their WiFi and variety of food and drink to tide me over.
13. Little Collins
- 667 Lexington Avenue near 56th Street. The only Midtown place on this list, but I had to include it because it's one of my favorites.
- WiFi: No.
- For: Healthy Breakfast (brekkie), Lunch, pastries, and coffee with a coworker or solo.
- Vibes: Industrial and mildly retro somehow while keeping it modern. It's always packed, and it's not the roomiest of places, but there are plenty of baristas behind the counter to help you out.
- The Coffee: They serve Counter Culture coffee, and they do single-cup pour-overs. Everything is crafted extremely well, and I've never received a less than perfect cup of coffee. Beautiful art on your cortados and flat whites too.
- Notes: Yet another Aussie cafe, they have my absolute favorite avocado smash in the city (aside from my own). Really delicious coffee, and quality food. I discovered this place as it's right next to my physical therapy center, and I now stop by there every time I am in the area.