Receiving a warm smile from someone you just met is a great way to start the day. You can make coffee at home, but getting outside and meeting friendly neighbors is a much better and invigorating way to begin your mornings. Get up early, go for a walk, get your caffeine fix and say hi to your favorite baristas.
With so many options in NYC, what should you choose? We created an easy guide ranking the best cafes in NYC based on ambiance, staff, local community, fast wifi, the variety of drinks, rankings by their peers and most important of all the quality of their coffee.
#22 Coffee Project NY
Know what's in your cup! Their beans are roasted in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and their milk is from Battenkill Creamery (the #1 highest quality milk in New York State). They source their pastries locally with Gluten-Free options.
Most helpful review- Great cortado, inexpensive and always super fast and friendly service.
#21 McNulty's Tea & Coffee Co.
Like a journey into another age. Located in the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village, the aura of a century long gone is timelessly preserved. Immediately upon entering the shop, your senses are delighted by the many aromas of coffees and teas from around the world. Sacks of coffee and chests of tea with obscure markings from far away lands are visible everywhere. Even the bins, chests, and scales, with which these products are stored and handled, date back to the previous century.
Most helpful review - I get all my teas and coffee beans here. There's a spectacular selection of loose teas from all over the world and a wide variety of coffee. They even have fair trade coffee beans.
Inspired by Spanish and Italian bars. From day one they have aimed to create a bright, lively environment that went beyond their small walls. They love food. They love coffee. They love music. Their ingredients are mostly organic and seasonal and their coffee is roasted with enthusiasm. Every day their shop radiates the vibrancy of the music that inspired their name.
Most helpful review - A huge fan of their cured olive cookies and cortados. This place is a sentimental favorite of mine, as the East Village changes, I can always rely on the strong coffee and talented baristas at Abraço. I'm sure to visit every time I'm in the neighborhood.
#19 Parlor Coffee
What began as a pocket square-sized espresso bar in the back of a barbershop is today an emerging coffee roasting company in Brooklyn. At Parlor, they have set out to source and roast coffees with character.
Collectively, they are a small group of professionals and artists who believe that coffee is a beautiful and complex subject within the greater culinary landscape. Their approach is both fastidiously scientific and instinct-driven. Every one of the uniquely sweet coffees that have made its way into a bag bearing their label has been on a laborious journey beginning with the producer at origin and ending in the careful hands of the roaster. It's a tireless goal by Parlor Coffee to consistently seek the best possible expression of each individual coffee.
Most helpful review - Without a doubt the best coffee I've ever had. So delicious, almost juicy.
#18 Hungry Ghost
Hungry Ghost is a new coffee bar and café at the corner of Flatbush and 6th Avenue. Conveniently located on the border of Prospect Heights and Park Slope, Coffee bar is a community space where people can meet up for coffee and food with friends or simply grab something quickly on their way to the subway.
Most helpful review - Super friendly & fast with delicious coffee. I love the Nitro with almond milk. We meet here and then run in prospect park...its perfect.
#17 Roasting Plant
Roasting Plant is a unique and innovative coffee company intent on bringing new levels of freshness and choice to coffee lovers around the world. They roast a wide variety of coffee beans onsite at each location every day so that the coffee they serve is fresh, with full flavor and an unusually smooth non-bitter taste. They can brew a cup of coffee or espresso in seconds from any bean they stock.
Most helpful review - One of my favorite coffee shops in the city. I always opt for the Americano because the espresso is so delicious. They also have lots of different kinds of beans that I haven't ventured into yet but I'm sure they're all amazing. I think the default is the Jamaican bean and I love it. The place itself is great too. There's plenty of seating and almost every seat has its own outlet.
#16 Pushcart Coffee
When you enter Pushcart Coffee you not only get your daily coffee, but you also get a unique experience. They are dedicated to nurturing and cultivating communities in and around each of their locations. Their communities include their staff (peddlers), their customers, their local vendors, and their neighborhoods. From the unique chemistry of these four elements, each Pushcart Coffee becomes a distinctive space celebrating and serving the community it calls home.
Most helpful review - Super smooth espresso, friendly service, and nice atmosphere to relax in. Pro tip: pair an iced honey latte and a maple waffle donut. It's a match made in heaven.
#15 Little Collins
Little Collins pays homage to the spirit of the bustling street in Melbourne, Australia, after which it is named. Every aspect of the café has been designed with the customer experience in mind. From the chic, industrial interior to the delicious, no-nonsense menu to the music that fills the space, Little Collins hits all the senses and makes people feel transported and completely at home, all at once. This is a place where the barista knows your name and remembers your favorite sandwich.
Most helpful review - The food is delicious and the coffee is great. Pretty latte art, which I like, because I eat with my eyes, too. Not too many places to sit and it can get quite crowded. Still, if you hit it at a slow time and grab a seat at the counter by the window, it's heaven.
#14 Joe Coffee
Joe was founded as a singular specialty coffee house in manhattan’s west village with the simple vision of brewing the highest quality, unique coffees and serving them with unsurpassed hospitality and knowledge. In order to bring such highly curated coffees to their customers, they worked alongside some of the most renowned domestic and international roasteries. With the launch of their own roasting operations in Red Hook, Brooklyn, they now roast 100% of their own single-origin and blended offerings.
Most helpful review - Loved the coffee, the service, and the atmosphere. I was on the move, but I wish I could have stuck around to check it out more!
#13 Think Coffee
Think Coffee is devoted to fairness in the coffee trade, from farmer to customer. All of the coffee they purchase comes directly from farmers they know. They travel often to ensure that the land on which their coffee is grown contains no chemicals and the workers are treated with care. They frequently conceive and implement development projects with their farmers. At home in NYC, they donate 10% of their after-tax profits to local community organizations and compost all of their waste.
Most helpful review - Great space for relaxing, chatting or working. Lively atmosphere, delicious snacks and beverages, good beer and wine. Despite being a big coffee shop, getting a table can be hard at times.
#12 The Chipped Cup
Taking inspiration from the Victorian Tea and Coffee Houses of old, the Chipped Cup aims to be a place where the diverse population of Hamilton Heights can come mingle over one of their delicious Espresso Bar drinks or sit quietly plugged in using their free wi-fi to get work done. If sunshine is what you crave: step out into their back garden patio, a tribute to the Victorians love of plants and flowers.
They serve fresh pastries delivered daily from famed chef Laurent Dupal's bakery as well as crusty bagels from the lower east side's renown Kossar Bialy's. Whether you stop by for a delicious Counter Culture-brewed cup of coffee (Fair-Trade/Organic/Delicious) and a buttery croissant to make the start of your work day more bearable or hang out and get to know your Hamilton Heights neighbors - they warmly welcome you into their parlor.
Most helpful review - While vacationing in New York City I stumbled upon the Chipped Cup purely by accident (I was staying three blocks away). Early in my trip I walked past a nearby Dunkin Donuts and thought to myself: "No, keep walking a little bit further and you're bound to find a better place." Boy, I'm glad I did. The Chipped Cup had a very welcoming and relaxed feel to it. The staff were always smiling and seemed to have a very genuine care and interest for their customers and their coffee needs. The coffee itself was excellent and reasonably priced in my mind. Their food was delicious and the best part: The back garden. Drinking coffee in the New York sunshine and starting my day with that type of setting was easily one of the highlights of my trip. During my extensive travels, I can't say I've found a coffee shop that feels more like home for me, which sucks because I live in Northern British Columbia Canada! I will forever hold the Chipped Cup in high regard and will use it as a measuring stick for all other coffee shops that I visit in the future. I would highly recommend it to anybody in the Harlem area. It's a New York gem!
#11 Jack's Stir Brew Coffee
Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee is a coffeehouse with 5 locations in New York City. The first location in the historic Greenwich Village on W. 10th Street was opened by owner Jack Mazzola in 2003. It was the first Organic, Fair Trade, Shade-Grown coffee shop in the city. The coffee is prepared using the patented Stir Brew method.
Most helpful review - Great coffee and muffins. Service was wonderful and just a great place to be.
#10 The Queen's Kickshaw
Located in Astoria, The Queens Kickshaw is a neighborhood spot serving coffee, beer, fine cider, and comfort food. It's a labor of love for partners in life and business Ben Sandler and Jennifer Lim. They live in Astoria and wanted to create a place and community that reflected their love for their neighborhood.
Their most helpful review - Really great place to sit, have breakfast, drink some coffee or a beer, read a book, do some writing and overall be an insufferable millennial. I do it all the time. Eat it, generation X. My go-to when I have some time off during the week. Big bottled and canned beer selection, a small but nice curated rotating tap list.
#9 Irving Farm Coffee Roasters
Irving Farm Coffee Roasters was founded in 1996 by two college friends, Steve and David when they opened a tiny neighborhood café on Irving Place in Gramercy Park. They began roasting out of a converted carriage house in Dutchess County soon after, and nearly 20 years later Irving Farm has grown into one of New York's most beloved hometown roasters with six cafés, a bustling wholesale business, a state-of-the-art SCAA Certified Training & Education Loft, a brand new Roastery & Tasting Room, and a green coffee buying program that focuses on direct relationships with farmers, sustainable practices and a philosophy of quality over quantity.
Most helpful review - Friendly and fast service. Great Americano. Chill vibes. Good for reading and doing work.
#8 Gimme! Coffee
Gimme! Coffee is a small chain of espresso bars in the state of New York, with locations in Ithaca, Trumansburg, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Gimme! Coffee also has a wholesale service that caters to coffee and espresso establishments.
In 2006, the New York Times named Gimme! Coffee among the best espresso bars in New York City. Gimme! Coffee received a Good Food Award, in the coffee category, for 2011 and 2012. Roast Magazine chose Gimme! Coffee as the winner of their 2013 Roaster of the Year contest.
Most helpful review - Amazing espresso! The baristas are really passionate about their craft and will discuss recommendations without being condescending. All of the beans are really good, just ask which is best for your preferred brew method.
#7 Ninth Street Espresso
In 2001, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Ninth Street Espresso established the city’s first quality-driven, specialty coffee bar. The idea was to serve the highest quality coffee, plain and simple.
Since its inception, Ninth Street Espresso has set the bar for quality, not only in NYC but throughout the United States. Their focused approach and streamlined menu have become the standard for specialty coffee shops throughout the country.
Most helpful review - Limited seating, but beautiful location. Espresso was solid. The shot was artisan level. Had to request water with the shot, overall great experience.
#6 La Colombe Coffee Roasters
La Colombe Coffee Roasters is a specialty coffee company known for ethical, long-term trade practices with growers. La Colombe owns and operates four cafes in NYC. The cafes are a window to their national wholesale business, which maintains thousands of specialized coffee programs to many of the world’s finest restaurants and cafes.
Most helpful review - Colombe is one of the best espressos in the city. I'm Italian. If what you are looking for is just espresso, as done in Italy - dark roast, nutty, balanced - this is the place to be. If you like lattes or stuff like that, they have a wide selection too (I guess, I'm not into dessert coffees). For me the great thing about Colombe is they manage to pull an espresso as it should be (as opposed to some other espresso places where they use medium roast). Their beans are great, I use them for my espresso machine at home.
#5 Birch Coffee
Birch Coffee is just that. What began as an idea and as two individuals’ desire to love what they did for a living has quickly turned into something so much more. The thought to provide people with their morning cup of coffee has evolved into helping create a local stomping ground for people and cultivate an environment of idea seeking. Giving back to and servicing the community is the foundation of Birch’s philosophy.
Birch Coffee is dedicated to not being just another local coffee shop, rather the ultimate coffee shop – a coffee community.
Most helpful review - Holy moly, this place is genius! I'm in love with the toasted almond tea right now and every other drink I've had at Birch have been amazing! I also enjoy the calming atmosphere and ambiance.
#4 Brooklyn Roasting Company
The Brooklyn Roasting Company is committed to offering the best quality Fair Trade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance certified coffees and espressos. They select their ingredient green coffees from the world’s most renowned coffee growing regions and hand roast them each day in the heart of Brooklyn. And...they're writing the book on Coffee Counter Intelligence--collaborating with the city's best baristas on an invitational basis to build "the bomb" espresso. They also offer intensive espresso based drink service training and private cuppings by appointment in their fully equipped roasting and cupping lab.
Most helpful review - First time in Dumbo I had the Ethiopian Natural and it was naturally sweet, but not too much. I am a black coffee drinker and not generally a fan of the more heavily (over roasted) coffees. The setting, location, and staff are awesome. A must see if your visiting. A must have if you're a daily coffee drinker.
#3 Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Stumptown started with the goal of doing things differently, with a vision that’s always been a little left-of-center, and with a focus squarely on quality. They source the best coffees in the world and strive to maintain transparent, quality-based relationships with farmers along the way. From plant to portafilter, they pay homage to these folks through their own fervent attention to detail at every step, quality control in their cupping labs, meticulous roasting profiles, and extensive barista education. They are committed to the well-being of everyone they work with, from the farmers and the communities they live in, to their employees and communities in NYC.
Most helpful review - Stumptown is in my top five coffee spots (they're all pretty tied), except Stumptown's advantage?...NITRO BREWED COFFEE! Yum, yum, YUM! They've got a good selection of goodies as well. Go check them out.
#2 Cafe Grumpy
At Café Grumpy, they like to keep things simple and focus on quality. Serving their favorite coffees from roasters around the country was a great way to introduce NYC to single cup brewing. Every year they strive to connect their customers more closely with the coffees they source by maintaining direct relationships with their producing partners around the world. Their goal is to serve you a delicious and socially responsible cup that highlights the nuances inherent in each coffee they roast.
Most helpful review - Love this coffee house. Delicious coffee. Speedy and super kind service. And plenty of seating both indoor and out. Great place to get work done. You will be far from grumpy if you go here.
#1 Bluestone Lane
Bluestone Lane offers a refined product proposition dedicated to producing the highest quality coffee and complementary foods, delivered in an engaging way. They are focused on creating environments where customers are immersed in the experience and leave feeling like a local.
Bluestone Lane Coffee is influenced from the renowned coffee culture hub of Melbourne Australia, where premium coffee is a way of life.
Most helpful review - Fantastic, friendly Australian staff. They have a great deal where if you purchase a bag of coffee beans (for brewing at home) you get a free drink. I'm unsure if you're limited to only certain drinks with this deal. Haven't had their breakfasts yet, but I've seen them and they look amazing.
For more about Bluestone Lane see our interview with Nicholas Stone