NYC Coffee Tour – Manhattan

The Introduction

A demonstration of how you feel on the inside when you find a great cup of coffee. Holla!

Neil & I have noticed in various blogs and online forums for New York that there are still a lot of people out there that don’t know where to go to hang out and enjoy a cup of coffee (that’s actually good). We’ve found that Yelp and Cup of NYC don’t really give enough information about whether or not the coffee shop actually has good coffee (I also ran a search, and unfortunately Cup of NYC also doesn’t provide which cafes have the most attractive staff! What a rip-off). We would like to help remedy that.

Also, we frequently drag visitors, perhaps against their wills, to visit all the coffee shops in New York City (those of you who appreciate this service know who you are). As the list of cafes is getting bigger and bigger, and therefore the tours are getting longer and longer, I’m beginning to get a little tired. And so, voila! The Do-it-Yourself Guided Tour Map was born. If you still want to take a guided tour with an NYC coffee-insider (hint, that’s me), I’ll be charging my standard consulting rate (just email me about it).

So here we’ve compiled a list of our favorite cafes in to-visit form. Get yourself to the first place on the list, we’ll give you step-by-step directions to the next place. If you want to get to the individual cafes (we will also list some off-the-beaten-path places that we recommend visiting below), we will provide the address and recommend you use Hopstop to figure out how to get there. If you are a cafe and you think we’ve overlooked you, drop us a line! We would love to hear from you.

Part of our job at TampTamp is to seek out the best places to get cups of coffee in New York. We don’t care if they’re big or small, have wi-fi or were snarky to the last reviewer. We’ll put what we think are perks about each one in the descriptions below, but our main point here is that these cafes serve superior cups of coffee. That said, they won’t necessarily always fulfill your dreams of being a zen-like, cozy cave where you can contendedly sit for hours knitting that sweater you’ve been meaning to finish. Because it’s New York, and New Yorkers tend to like good things when they find them, these places are almost always packed. Some places (such as Abraco and Gimme! at Mott St.), offer little to no seating of their own. But don’t despair! Our friend and foodie-author Adam Roberts has some great tips from his article at Serious Eats, that I will quote below:

1. Getting a seat is a state of mind. If you convince yourself that you’ll get a seat, you’ll get a seat
2. Don’t rush the ordering process. Go to the bathroom, get in the line and then, after ordering, mill around while they make your drink. It’s in this window of time that a seat usually becomes available
3. When you get your drink, get it to stay so that your need clearly expresses itself. As you stand there holding it, look around for empty chairs at occupied tables. That’s key. Because that leads you to step 4, the most important step
4. Ask someone if you can sit at their table. You’ll be surprised, most always they’ll say yes. And who knows, maybe you’ll strike up a conversation? Regardless, this is the best way to always get a seat at a coffee shop: ask for one.

Another insider tip for seat-seekers: don’t miss the opportunity to take a seat when it’s given to you. Before you order, look around if a table is open or someone is going to leave soon. Leave something (like your coat, or book – keep your valuables with you) at the table to mark your place. If you come in with companion(s), have someone stay at the table while the other orders for you both (take care to know what the other person wants, it’s pretty tacky to yell across a cafe “Did you say a SOY mocha? or DECAF?”). Generally marking your territory, even with something as small as a stray hat, is enough to ward off timid seat-seekers.

We hope that we can contribute to a happier, more caffeinated NYC.

The Short Version

1. Kaffe 1668 – 275 Greenwich St. at Murray St – 212-693-3750
La Colombe Cafe – 319 Church St, New York, NY 10013 – (212) 343-1515‎
3. Gimme!* Mott St. – 228 Mott St, Manhattan, NY – 212-226-4011
4. Think Coffee* on Bowery – 1 Bleecker St at Bowery
5. Abraco Espresso – 86 e. 7th st. near 1st avenue – 212-388-9731
6. 9th St Espresso* – 341 E. 10th St and Ave B – 212-777-3508
7. Everyman Espresso – 136 East 13th Street btw 3rd and 4th Ave – 212-533-0524
8. Cafe Grumpy* – 224 West 20th Street btw 7th and 8th Ave – 212-255-5511
9. Joe 23rd St* – 405 West 23rd street at 9th Ave – 212-206-0669
10. Parker Meridien Hotel – 118 W 57th St. btw 6th and 7th Aves. – 212-245-5000

The Long Version

(* = cafe has multiple locations)

1. Kaffe 1668 – 275 Greenwich St. at Murray St – 212-693-3750
Kaffe 1668

This Cafe opened in October 2008, and it shot up to our first shop to visit (I think that it had something to to with the fact that it’s the cafe at the lowest tip of Manhattan). This cafe serves Intelligentsia Coffee on the Synesso and Clover, and makes their own pastries. They have two floors of seating (a big community table, private 2-top tables, lounge seats) and free wi-fi (look for the password on your receipt). So far, this is a great place to come and get comfy with your coffee.

To get from Kaffe 1668 to La Colombe, walk out the door and take a left, take another left at the corner onto Murray St. Walk to Murray and Broadway and look for the City Hall R/W subway stop (you will pass the Chambers St. stop before you get to it). Take the R/W line from City Hall one stop uptown to Canal street. From Broadway and Canal, walk one block south on Broadway to Lispenard. Then walk one block west to Church St. La Colombe is at the Corner.

2. La Colombe Cafe – 319 Church St, New York, NY 10013 – (212) 343-1515‎

This cafe has been in New York but I’ve only just visited it (for some reason, TriBeCa equates to “cold and you have to walk far to get to it” in my brain, but this shop is just two blocks away from the Canal St. stop, so that’s not really a fair excuse.) Much like the tiny chain-cum-starbucks-purchase-and-back-again Torrefazione Italia, the Philadelphia-based cafe is a no-frills italian style espresso bar, although it does have some seating and you can pick up the neighbors’ wifi (note to neighbors: sorry in advance). One tricky part is that they have no visible menu, so you have to know what you want before you go (I would recommend a small latte). The staff on my visit was very friendly.

To get from La Colombe to Gimme! Coffee, walk back to the Canal Street stop and get back on the uptown R/W to Prince Street, one stop. From Prince Street, get out and walk east (towards Crosby St.) until you reach Mott St, 4 blocks. Turn right, Gimme is about halfway down the street on the left side. Has a big red awning that’s visible during the day but it’s a little obscure at night.

3. Gimme!* Mott St. – 228 Mott St, Manhattan, NY – 212-226-4011
Comparing notes

Gimme is frequently listed as one of the top cafes in the country in all kinds of press, so we definitely think it’s worth a visit. This location is standing-room only though, so don’t plan on writing your doctorate here. The neighbors pack the place during morning rush hours, but at off times (before 10 am or after 6pm), it’s a very intimate shop where you can really pick the barista’s brains about coffee. If you love Gimme’s coffee but need a seat, consider visiting their Williamsburg location. You can also visit their four cafes upstate, but that’s more of a haul.

To get from Gimme! Coffee to Think, turn right as you exit and walk North until you hit bleeker, 3 blocks (you also will reach a dead end on Mott). Turn right and walk to the corner of Bleeker and Bowery. Think is on the Northwest corner of the intersection.

4. Think Coffee* on Bowery – 1 Bleecker St at Bowery

Where most NYC cafes deprive their customers of seating and electrical outlets, Think gives in abundance. That being said, their home turf spot on Mercer is still general stuffed with customers, so the Bowery location provides a little bit of breathing room (it is also conveniently placed between Gimme! Mott and Abraco for the purposes of our tour). During the summer months, the cold brewed ice coffee is not to be missed, and they have reciently introduced a melitta bar that serves cup of excellence coffees brewed to order. They also serve beer, wine, and lots of food, so if you have a less-than-coffee-obsessed crowd to please, Think would be a great fit.

To get from Think to Abraco, turn left as you exit, and walk north on Bowery until you reach 7th st. Bowery forks into two avenues, so just be sure to stay on the right side (east side) of the fork as you walk up to 7th st. Turn right onto 7th St and walk east until you reach 1st avenue, 2 blocks. Abraco is almost at the corner of 7th st and 1st Ave, on the South side of the street.

5. Abraco Espresso – 86 e. 7th st. near 1st avenue – 212-388-9731

Abraco this year has shimmied to the top of many “best-of’s” for New York publications, including the Times and New York Magazine. It’s also at the top of my personal best-of list, although I won’t say it’s my favorite coffee shop in New York (it’s just too hard to decide! They’re all my favorite). Abraco Espresso is a culinary experience, challenging your perspectives on “what is a New York cup of coffee?” and on the kinds of foods you expect from a coffee shop. Not only is your astoundingly delicious almond-milk latte made in a We Are Happy to Serve you Cup, you can also pair it with the most amazing olive cookie you’ve ever had. Yeah, I said “amazing olive cookie.” The downside? There is almost always a serious line, so be prepared to wait about 10 minutes for your order. They have about 8 outdoor seats and standing room only inside. But trust us, it’s worth crowding in and making new friends.

To get from Abraco to Ninth Street, turn right as you exit, and then turn left onto 1st Avenue. Walk north on 1st until you reach 10th st. Turn right onto 10th St and walk past avenue A. Ninth Street is Almost at the corner of Avenue B, on the north side of the street.

6. 9th St Espresso* – 341 E. 10th St and Ave B – 212-777-3508

The newest Ninth Street has narrowed the coffee-shop gap between Abraco at 7th St and Everyman Espresso on 13th St. Right across from Thompkins Square Park, this shop has a distinctly neighborhoody feel to it that I just love. I’ve written before that it reminds me of the original location of Stumptown Coffee, which figures since this shop was built as Ninth Street started serving Stumptown’s coffee. Even if the link was unintentional, I think the shop’s design is one of the best in the city. Oh yeah, and the coffee’s pretty ok too.

To get from Ninth Street to Everyman Espresso, turn right as you exit, and then turn right onto 1st Avenue. Walk north on 1st until you reach 13th st. Turn left onto 13th St and walk until you reach 3rd Avenue. Everyman is just across the 3rd avenue corner, on the south side of the street.

7. Everyman Espresso – 136 East 13th Street btw 3rd and 4th Ave – 212-533-0524

Everyman is a place that to the outside observer (and many a yelp reviewer) seems a little odd. Tucked into the lobby of the Classic Stage Company, Everyman sticks to its guns, serving high-quality espresso all the time. This shop is one I think of as “coffee people’s” coffee shop – if you love great coffee, and want to talk to the barista about their offerings or a demo of a latte art pour, this is your spot. If you want couches and a sandwich, this is not your spot. But they do offer free-wifi, and one perk of being an odd duck is that there’s usually a place to sit and work.

To get from Everyman Espresso to Cafe Grumpy, turn left as you exit and walk west on 13th Street until you reach 7th Ave (You can also stop in at Joe’s 13th St & 5th Ave location if you’re so inclined, but we’ve got another one at 23rd st). Take the 2/3 train 1 stop to 18th st. Get out at the 19th street exit, then continue walking north until 20th St. Turn left and Cross the street. Cafe grumpy is almost at 8th Avenue on the south side of the street, and is a little tucked away. If you’ve passed the police station you’ve gone too far.

8. Cafe Grumpy* – 224 West 20th Street btw 7th and 8th Ave – 212-255-5511
The Clover station

The Cafe Grumpy at 20th street is known for being a trend-setter in New York. Grumpy was the first shop to serve Clover coffee exclusively instead of using an automatic drip brewer, was the first to hold regular public cuppings (like wine tastings), and now continues to be on the cutting edge of the freshest crops of coffees brewed in different exciting ways. Since this shop was slightly off the beaten path when it first opened, all of us in the coffee community watched it with baited breath. “Is it going to make it?” we asked ourselves. “Will New Yorker’s freak out over spending $5 on a cup of drip coffee? Are we all in the wrong line of work?” Grumpy just celebrated their two-year anniversary at the location, and is thriving. Go in during the morning rush, and expect to wait in a healthy line, and keep the table-searching notes above in mind. This is also the best place in the city to get home-brewing equipment; they offer an extensive selection of french presses, chemex, and grinders.

To get from Cafe Grumpy to Joe, turn left as you exit and walk west on 20th street until you reach 9th Ave. Turn right and head north for three blocks. Joe is on the northeast corner of 9th Ave and 23rd Street, just past a bank.

9. Joe 23rd St* – 405 West 23rd street at 9th Ave – 212-206-0669
Joe from the door

This is one of the newer incarnations of the greater Joe family, and along with the 42nd St location has a sharp-dressed-atmosphere to it, like those people you know who wear a classic suit but always jazz it up with funky shoes or a quirky blouse. Despite any departure of appearance from the ultra cozy Waverly Place and 13th Street locations, Joe remains one of my favorite places to get a vanilla latte in the city (there I said it, I like vanilla lattes, ok?) Adam Roberts’ advice about seat-seeking was based on his experiences at Joe, but 23rd tends to be less full of lingerers, so it’s easier to get a table than the other two. This may just be just because the shop is less than a year old. The baristas here are great and friendly, and it’s a good place for celebrity sightings in the city, but I’ll let you go there and watch for them yourself.

To get from Joe to the Parker Meridien, turn left as you exit and walk east on 23rd street until you reach 6th Ave. Take the F line to 57th St. When you exit, walk north to 57th Street. Turn left onto 57th St. The hotel is about a third of the way up the block, on the south side of the street (there is also an entrance from 56th St).

10. Parker Meridien Hotel – 118 W 57th St. btw 6th and 7th Aves. – 212-245-5000
Training Koji

This is yet another 2008 addition to the coffee-tour roster. The Parker Meridien opened a cathederalesque coffee lounge in the lobby of their midtown hotel. They are very serious about providing a great cup of coffee there, so much so that the drinks are to stay only. They also double as a cocktail lounge in the afternoon and evening, so this is a good spot for an afternoon business meeting or a place to impress your friends from out of town. It also has plenty of seating to go around.

So that’s our standard Manhattan tour of coffee shops. But although we have singled out these great places, that doesn’t mean that we don’t recommend others. The following shops are our recommended other places to go that are “off the beaten path.” Whether limited by geography, or redundancy, or just plain exhaustion, we don’t generally make it to these on the standard tour:

9th St Espresso
75 9th Ave in the Chelsea Market

9th St Espresso
700 E. 9th St btw C & D

Think Coffee
248 Mercer St
btw 3rd St & 4th St

Blue Spoon Coffee
86 Chambers St
(212) 619-7230

Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee
138 W 10th St
(212) 929-0821

Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee
222 Front St
(212) 227-7631

Joe the Art of Coffee
141 Waverly Pl
btw 6th Ave and Gay St.
(212) 924-6750

Joe the Art of Coffee
9 E. 13th St.
btw. 5th Ave and University Place

Joe the Art of Coffee
89 E 42ND St
Inside the Grand Central Terminal

Zibetto Espresso
1385 6th Ave

Indian Road Market & Cafe
600 W 218th St
(212) 942-7451

88 Orchard
88 Orchard St
(212) 228-8880

Dames Coffee
503 1st St.
Hoboken, NJ 07030

Coming Soon…Brooklyn North and South

~ by neoney on December 9, 2008.

14 Responses to “NYC Coffee Tour – Manhattan”

  1. Whose coffee do they use at the Parker Meridien?

  2. […] NYC Coffee Tour – Brooklyn North and South Continued from our last post, NYC Coffee Tour – Manhattan […]

  3. How about Mojo Coffee in the West Village? Gives Joe a run for its money, and the friendly neighborhood vibe can’t be beat.

  4. […] would have suspected the availability of coffee, let alone good coffee if it weren’t for Road to Epiphany. The hotel’s own website doesn’t even give it a […]

  5. […] should add that I never would have found Zibetto on my New York coffee tour had it not been for my tour guide. I’m glad I did, though, since it gave me a chance to visit an Italian coffee bar on this […]

  6. If you’re looking for the best espresso and don’t care about anything else, how do these places compare against Aroma on Houston St.? When my relatives visit NYC, they always want to go straight to Aroma for espresso, and say it’s better than anything else they’ve tried in NYC (or the U.S.) so far, and maybe even better than what they tried in Italy. But I don’t think they’ve tried any of the places on this list. We’re not too concerned with atmosphere, seating, etc., just the best espresso imaginable. Thoughts?

    • Hey Ike,

      Ultimately it really depends on the personal taste preference of you & your relatives. I would say that Aroma, as compared to the cafes on our map, has a more “european” style (technically it’s an Israeli business and made similarly to flavor profiles you would find in Israel, but that is closer to the average cafes of Europe as well) espresso, where our map talks about “american” style of espresso. Generally speaking American style espressos, while varying wildly from espresso to espresso, taste more concentrated (“strong” “bitter”) so people from outside the US don’t like it as much. Similarly, Americans think European coffees taste weak and unimpressive. Of course this is a complete generalization about many wildly different coffee cultures, but that it my anecdotal experience with the matter, from working in several new york cafes that serve europeans and by tasting several different espressos. This is not to say that either method is better or worse, simply the methods behind each are different, and people tend to align their taste with what they are used to.

      Personally, my favorite espresso in NYC is Cafe Grumpy’s Heartbreaker, which has a very unique, fruity flavor. I also enjoy Black Cat from Intelligentsia (at Kaffe 1668 and Ost Cafe), Barrington Gold (Joe), Leftist (gimme!) and Hairbender (Stumptown – opening on Broadway soon, City Girl Bakery in SoHo & all over Brooklyn). Your family may prefer Afficianado from Counter Culture, which has a milder (but very nice) profile (Abraco).

      I know I pretty much repeated the map, but I hope that helps. I would say start with Aficianado or Gimme Coffee, since both of them are close enough to Aroma that if they don’t like it they could wash it away with their preferred espresso bevvy.

      Good luck!

  7. jack’s in west village is great too. on par with all of these.

  8. Great list but contrary to the promise in the beginning of the article – you offer little to no commentary on the quality of the coffee or espresso at any of these shops. It’s implicit that you think they are all better than average or very good but having been to many of them I believe there are qualitative differences in the espresso and the espresso drinks..
    And I am shocked that anyone would prefer Aroma to other places on this list or pretty much any place in Italy. The double espresso I had at Aroma last summer was one of the worst I have ever been served in my life. In their defense – the Aroma manager spotted my comments on yelp and wrote to me offering a free “make-up” drink next time I’m in that area but the drink I had was so truly atrocious I’m not inclined to risk spending the time.

    And who does have the best looking staff? 😉

  9. Hey! I love the list. I just started working on my laptop from cafes around manhattan and have my favorite spots so far (Ost, Kaffe1668, Think), but was wondering if you had any suggestions. I love the latte at Ost and the work-friendly feel of all three of the places I mentioned. Do you know of others that would be good to work in (and drink a great latte)? Thanks!

  10. I agree with the last commenter that there was very little comment on the coffee itself, and that the quality at these places varies greatly. I speak from limited experience; I only know that I almost without fail love every cup from 9th and Gimme that i’ve had, that abraco has the most divine espresso but 9th’s was slightly less awesome but that could have been a very specific thing, that everyman is good for espresso’s and any espressoy drink but that the coffee is slightly weak, and that I don’t like think Coffee AT ALL but their milky drinks are acceptable. But honestly I don’t like their coffee very much, which worries me then: Either I have no taste, or maybe it’s just a personal thing where each person has to figure out what they like anyway, but either way how do I know if any of these other places that I haven’t tried have good or not good coffee? & what Kind? Oh Kaffe 1668 is good, too. I only tried their coffee (plain). And… there’s a new stumptown! ace hotel! ^_^. XD! and… It’s hard to find out what’s an acceptable grinder.. oh no this has digressed into nothing ness. Also, I can’t believe Simon Sips closed…

    • also, I totally should have read your actual front page of this website before that last ramble. Whoohoo, new places in Brooklyn to go to!

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