The Third Wave Coffee Revolution: 10 Of NYC’s Finest
Want to know where to get the best espresso drinks and drip coffee in New York City? We have scoured the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn to bring you ten 10 of our favourite coffee shops. From historical cappuccinos in Greenwich Village to satisfying lattes in Greenpoint, read on to find out where to get your next coffee fix.
1. Ninth Street Espresso, East Village
341 East 10th St, New York, NY 10009 www.ninthstreetespresso.com
Why it matters: Flawlessly made espresso drinks every time.
By all accounts, Ninth Street Espresso was the first speciality coffee bar in NYC. The original location opened in 2001 with a quality-driven, minimalist approach to coffee and espresso, which the team maintains to this day. Ninth Street offers a basic seven-item menu with all nomenclature removed; guests simply select the size and style of drink they prefer and Ninth Street Espresso builds it for them. As owner Ken Nye says, “Our primary focus has always been quality. Everything else comes after that.” Ninth Street roasts its own coffee at the Pulley Collective in Red Hook, allowing them complete control from the roasting room to the cup.
2. Birch Coffee, Flatiron District
5 East 27th St, New York, NY 10016 www.birchcoffee.com
Why it matters: A place for those who appreciate the finer details.
Birch Coffee has three Manhattan locations, one in the Flatiron District, West Village and Upper West Side. The Flatiron location occupies the same building as the Gershwin Hotel and features a bustling downstairs area as well as a hidden library upstairs. Owner Jeremy Lyman attributes Birch’s success to its attention to detail: “It’s minding the smallest thing that people don’t even know they notice, and then they do. We simply don’t take a single one of our customers for granted. With so many solid options in this city, when a customer chooses to come into Birch, we know that a little smile goes a long way.”
3. Caffe Reggio, Greenwich Village
119 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012 www.cafereggio.com
Why it matters: A piece of New York history.
Not exactly third wave, but deserving of a mention for being the most historic coffee shop in New York City. Caffe Reggio opened in 1927 and has supplied generations of New Yorkers with their morning coffee ever since. The café is famous for being the first in the US to serve a cappuccino, importing the idea directly from Italy. In honour of its historic status, Caffe Reggio has an original Italian espresso machine on display (dating back to 1902) and paintings from the Italian Renaissance that you might expect to see in the Metropolitan Museum rather than in a coffee shop. Given its impressive decor, it is no surprise that Reggio has featured in films such as The Godfather II and Shaft.
4. Irving Farm, Upper West Side
224 West 79th Street, New York, NY 10024 www.irvingfarm.com
Why it matters: Long-term devotees to ethically sourced coffee.
The Irving Farm café on the Upper West Side is one of five locations in New York City, each one supplied with beans from Irving Farm’s country roastery in the Hudson Valley. Irving Farm has been an important fixture on NYC’s coffee scene since 1996, when options for quality hand-crafted coffee were few and far between. In the present wave of artisan coffee shops on every street corner, Irving Farm maintains a flawless reputation. The team behind Irving works hard to make sure their green beans are sustainably sourced from direct relationships with the farmers. Their espresso, which is poured through a La Strada Marzocco, is full-bodied and delicious.
5. Café Grumpy, Greenpoint
193 Meserole Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222 www.cafegrumpy.com
Why it matters: Greenpoint trendsetters!
The first Grumpy cafe opened in Greenpoint in 2005, long before the area became popular, and is still a must for the dedicated Brooklyn-based coffee drinker. Grumpy prides itself on offering friendly service and a relaxing atmosphere, with each café reflecting the unique character of its neighbourhood. The excellent baristas at Grumpy Greenpoint pour some of the best espresso and drip coffee this side of the East River. Grumpy roasts its own beans in-house in small batches using a vintage Probat coffee roaster, and bakes its own pastries daily at a bakery on the Lower East Side. What more could you ask?
6. Joe Coffee, Columbia University
550 West 120th St, New York, NY 10027 www.joenewyork.com
Why it matters: Thousands of Columbia students can’t be wrong!
This popular Joe Coffee branch is situated in a gorgeous high-ceilinged building on the campus of Columbia University. As with all its locations, Joe are now roasting 100% of their own beans to exacting standards in Red Hook, providing guests with the freshest coffee-drinking experience possible. According to Imbibe magazine, Joe has “some of the best-trained baristas in the biz” and their coffee from the drip bar and espresso is excellent. Expect long lines of students between classes.
7. Everyman Espresso, Soho
301 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013 www.everymanespresso.com
Why it matters: For its brilliant atmosphere and attention to detail.
Everyman Espresso is everything an independent coffee bar in Soho should be. The atmosphere is unique, and the coffee rich and distinctive, attracting an adoring and diverse local clientele. “We want people to walk in and say, ‘Oh! There’s something different about this place’,” says owner Sam Penix, who founded the café back in 2009. And there is. Everyman Espresso sources its beans from Counter Culture and serves several varieties of drip coffee, straight espresso shots and milk-based drinks. It is easily one of the most memorable coffee-drinking experiences in Manhattan.
8. Toby’s Estate, Williamsburg
125 North 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249 www.tobysestate.com
Why it matters: Antipodean coffee expertise.
Toby’s Estate is a popular and bustling café close to the Bedford L stop in Williamsburg. Owners Amber Jacobsen and Adam Boyd, who imported the brand from Australia, have carved out a niche for their café as one of the best places to get coffee in Brooklyn. According to Jacobsen, “A great coffee is more than a La Marzocco EP Strada and champion baristas. What really creates a well-rounded cup is an understanding of where the bean comes from and how to roast it best.” Living up to their word, Toby roasts its single origins and blends in-house, with a unique roasting profile for each type. Fans of the café will be pleased to know and they have just opened a new Midtown location as well.
9. Ground Support Café, Soho
399 West Broadway, New York, NY 10012 www.groundsupportcafe.com
Why it matters: Kick-ass coffee and cakes.
This former art gallery turned coffee shop is one of Soho’s finest destinations for quality espresso. Ground Support brew their coffee on Chemex and AeroPress machines and outsource the roasting to nearby Intelligentsia. As café owner Steven Sardoff says, “You develop a relationship with a roaster. They train your staff, and you’re on the phone with them every day.” Ground Support serve single origins and blends in an airy space with all-wood furniture and cedar picnic tables. Their cold brews and freshly-baked pastries, which are locally sourced from a family baker, are particularly recommended.
10. Blue Bottle Coffee, Chelsea
450 West 15th St, New York, NY 10014 www.bluebottlecoffee.com
Why it matters: NYC’s widest range of pour-over options.
Blue Bottle Coffee originates from California but now operates out of several locations in New York City. Their spacious shop near Chelsea Market is a must for any coffee fan, featuring some of the most exciting coffee-brewing equipment this side of Asia. Downstairs, espresso drinks are made on a La Marzocco Strada and pour-over coffees are brewed by the cup. Upstairs takes things to the next level with a Tokyo-inspired siphon bar, which resembles something out of a science fiction novel. In their own words, Blue Bottle’s success comes down to the way they pay tribute to the city’s culture in who they hire, where they situate their cafés and how they design them.
Thank you to NYC’s amazing coffee-drinking community for helping us put this article together!
Written by Matt Lindley: Follow him on Twitter @MattELindley
Image credits: Jonathan Lin, Clay McLachlan/Claypix.com