After decades of middling brews defined more by convenience than caliber, New York has emerged as an American coffee capital. Cafes that opened in the 1990s and the first decade of the new millennium, which for our purposes we’re calling The Old Guard, reinvigorated the city in multiple ways. They brought smart pulls, pours, and premier beans sourced from around the world. Now, NYC’s new guard is introducing seasonal specials, international brews, and seriously stylish interiors.
Here are 15 of New York City’s best coffee shops.
Toby’s Estate is a specialty coffee shop sourcing single-origin coffee with a seasonal rotating menu and expertly trained team of baristas. Although each location has its own unique personality, the flagship location in Williamsburg doubles as the roastery and offers weekly public cuppings, and the Long Island City outpost has a gorgeous courtyard and cafe menu by Maman.
Originally from Portland, Ore., Stumptown delights coffee aficionados in NYC through its evolving single-origin coffees from producers all over the world, including South America, East Africa, and Indonesia. Known for its cappuccinos at its cafes, its popular Hair Bender blend is now available on nitro in cans at all locations.
Would you believe that drip coffee is the most sought-after drink at Intelligentsia? Well, it’s that good. With coffee sourced from 14 countries across the Southern and Northern Hemispheres, Intelligentsia offers coffees that rotate with the seasons, disrupting the common notion that coffees stay fresh year-round (or the popular mindset that seasonal coffee means a pumpkin spice latte!).
9th Street Espresso
Ninth Street Espresso is one of the NYC pioneers in quality-driven coffee. Native New Yorker Ken Nye opened 9th Street Espresso in 2001 with a tight, no-frills menu to keep the focus on the coffee. There are only four items: hot coffee, cold coffee, espresso, and espresso with milk. Ninth Street sources the majority of its beans from a collection of Brazilian farms and other small lots from growing regions around the world. Alphabet City is the signature roast, and regular espresso and espresso with milk are the go-to orders. Consistency and appeal to all are key goals: “We built our business on our reputation for making consistently great espresso,” says Nye. “People visit us every day for that experience.”
With beans from all over the world (Central and South America, Ethiopia, Kenya, and China) roasted upstate in Millerton, N.Y., Irving Farm started out as a neighborhood coffee shop in Gramercy and expanded throughout Manhattan. It offers a selection of egg plates, bowls, sandwiches, and breakfast items in addition to a fully stocked pastry case at all of its cafes, and just launched an official Irving Farm cold brew (a top seller).
Popular among New York’s pretty people, La Colombe is famous for its draft lattes. This East Coast coffee roaster from Philly comes out with various seasonal draft lattes in addition to its core draft latte menu (Black and Tan, Pure Black, and Draft Lattes). Right now it’s the Honeysuckle Latte, made with natural honeysuckle extract.
Founded in Greenpoint, Brooklyn by Caroline Bell and Chris Timbrell, independently owned Cafe Grumpy sources from different countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi, Zambia, and Peru. It roasts in Greenpoint at its facility next door to the original cafe location (popularized by the HBO series “Girls”). Each season, it offers a menu of specialty drinks (right now it’s a cardamom rose latte). Its most popular drink order? A cappuccino to stay or cold brew to go.
Daily Provisions couples European cafe ambiance with Danny Meyer’s world-renowned hospitality to provide an atmosphere that is equal parts cozy, energizing, and intimate. Opened in February 2017, it quickly became the cafe of choice for those in the neighborhood, serving up JOE Coffee and its famous crullers (if you’re a first-timer, go with the maple), plus gougéres, sandwiches, and breads.
This California transplant uses sustainably sourced beans from developing coffee regions all over the world and offers seasonally rotating menus of tasty bites like oat bars, avocado toast, liege waffles, pastries, and more. Bella Donovan blend coffee and Hayes Valley Espresso are among its most popular brews. Blue Bottle is influenced by Japanese kissatens, small shops that serve coffees prepared carefully and one at a time, and the spirit of omotenashi, or intuitive hospitality.
Patent Coffee’s brews trend toward the lighter end of the roast spectrum, so expect fruity, flowery, and lighter notes. The standard offerings are solid, but the rotating seasonal menu is especially exciting, featuring specials like CBD Cold Brew and Iced Coconut Matcha. Pastries are from Pain D’Avignon, cookies are by Bon Appetit’s senior food editor, Claire Saffitz, and the vegan, gluten-free chia pudding and banana overnight oats are not to be missed. Find Patent in the cellar of the historic Radio Wave Building (where Nikola Tesla once lived).
The premier breakfast spot of the moment, ATLA is a modern Mexican place that uses Buna coffee from Mexico City, a brand focused on sustainability and biodiversity. Instead of lattes, ATLA offers cafe con leche, which is Latin in origin, not European. It’s a strong coffee mixed with hot milk in a one-to-one ratio, instead of espresso and steamed milk.
Ramini Espresso Bar
Ramini Espresso Bar searches the world for the best coffee and finds exceptional beans from Kenya, Guatemala, and Ethiopia. Its blends, roasted by 49th Parallel in Canada, have smooth, well-balanced flavors. The company is named after its founder, Rami, who had a vision of serving miniature pastries alongside great coffee (Rami + mini = Ramini). In addition to coffee and espresso drinks (the cortados are great), Ramini offers turmeric, beet coco, blue, and charcoal lattes. Pastries and baked goods are made in-house with free-range organic eggs and include gluten-free options made with coconut oil. Don’t miss the almond cake and the fudge balls.
A former meatpacking facility, Devoción’s Williamsburg cafe has an exposed roasting plant, sky-lit atrium, and huge, mural-like living plant wall, brimming with over 2,000 plant varieties, including Colombian coffee plants. The company serves only the finest, Colombian-sourced coffee, and it’s as fresh as it can possibly get — Devoción overnights the green beans from Bogota to Brooklyn on a weekly basis.
This East Village neighborhood cafe has quickly claimed a large fan base despite its tiny size. The bright white space has a beachy feel, splashed with cool tones to evoke the seaside. Enjoy an expertly pulled espresso, flat white, or seasonal special like ube and maple lattes, made with Australian-based Marionette coffee. Baristas dose higher than most coffee shops and run their shots shorter (ristretto), so customers get a sweeter, fuller-bodied taste with minimal acidity.
This beautifully designed cafe inside the MADE Hotel highlights a different roaster each month on its pour-over menu, including Devoción, Camber, and Slate Coffee Roasters from Seattle. Menus are constantly evolving and feature specials like Vanilla Bean Latte and Hot Buttered Americano, plus coffee cocktails, such as a Hot Toddy with Toki Japanese Whisky and Ginger Turmeric Tea, and a Spicy Mezcal Hot Chocolate. Pastries come from Patisserie Chanson — the black sesame kouign-amann is especially delicious.