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in advance of the hundreds of thousands of coffee nerds about to embark on the nearby shores of new jersey for coffeefest, and because it is time, i thought i would offer my short tour guide to those who may wish to drink a cup of coffee in the city of new york. (the folks at tamp tamp update another, huge map of their own which is also worth checking out.) so without further ado….
manhattan: west village/greenwich village
[third rail coffee]
third rail coffee (240 sullivan street at west 3rd)
[A/B/C/D/E/F/V to west 4th Street, 1 to christopher street]
not far from joe is one of manhattan’s smallest cafes, third rail, which opened late summer 2009. third rail may still be the only place to order a chemex in the five boroughs, and features a roster of roasters that currently includes both stumptown and intelligentsia. would you like black cat or hairbender in that macchiato? make mine catblender!
joe (141 waverly place at gay street)
[A/B/C/D/E/F/V to west 4th Street, 1 to christopher street]
joe (also known as “joe — the art of coffee”, oh how i love that awkward pause) is one of manhattan’s biggest little players, with five (five!) cafes throughout the borough, from grand central station to the upper west side. this shop, the original joe location, is a perfect glimpse of west village coziness, recently improved by interior renovation (look! you can walk through the cafe without sitting in someone’s latte!) and a 2009 roaster change to west coast roaster ecco caffè.
roasting plant (75 greenwich ave at seventh avenue south)
i’m not sure how the coffee tastes at this uber-modern, pneumatic-tube-driven, roast-to-order (!) rube goldberg device of a cafe. but since you’re in the neighborhood, why not stop in and admire the milk taps?
manhattan: east village
[ninth street espresso]
ninth street espresso (700 east ninth street at avenue C)
[L to 1st avenue]
the original ninth street espresso sits on one of alphabet city’s most beautiful corners. order a drink and enjoy it on the bench outside, admiring the abundance of willow trees. it’s almost like you aren’t in a gross city…
ost (twelfth street and avenue A)
[L to 1st avenue]
ost feels like a post-war european neighborhood cafe, or at least it’s what i imagine that might feel like if its shabby charms weren’t inundated by macbooks. come in for a cup of intelligentsia-roasted coffees or a glass of red wine…or both?
abraço (86 east 7th street between first and second avenues)
[L to 1st avenue, 6 to astor place]
one of the tiniest coffee shops you’ll ever see, the warm orange-neon glow here beacons you to a tasty counter culture-roasted cup and the most delicious cookie in all of new york city, the house-baked olive shortbread cookie…those are NOT chocolate chips.
ninth street espresso (341 east 10th street at avenue B)
able to handle another coffee? ninth street’s newest location is a stone’s throw from their first one, right on the edge of tompkins square park. bring your dog for a run while you’re at it.
cafe grumpy (224 west 20th street between 7th and 8th avenues)
[A/C/E/1/2/3/L to 14th street, C/E/1to 23rd street]
it can get really busy in here, which is one reason you’re not welcome to open your laptop inside cafe grumpy. you are, however, welcome to rotating selections of coffee from various roasters, including cafe grumpy themselves, who just began roasting their own in september. alongside espresso, try the clover menu — including sampler flights! — for drip.
ninth street espresso chelsea market (9th avenue between 15th and 16th streets)
[A/C/E/L to 14th street]
while restoring yourself at the bakeries, the ronnybrook dairy bar, and jacques torres chocolate, pop into the chelsea market for another coffee at the west side ninth street location. it’s a different world over here, that’s for sure…
gimme! coffee (228 mott street between prince and spring)
[F to broadway-lafayette, 6 to spring street]
upstate roasters gimme! maintain two new york city outposts, and this standing-room-only spot is the perfect place to stop if you’re anywhere south of houston (perhaps while you’re getting an italian sub or a banh mi down the street?). enjoy their own leftist espresso blend, or a by-the-cup coffee served in an abid clever dripper.
[stumptown coffee roasters]
stumptown coffee roasters (18 west 29th street between fifth and broadway, in the ace hotel)
[N/R/W/6 to 28th street, B/D/F/V/Q to 34 street-herald square]
the arrival of stumptown on NYC shores was the most talked about thing since sliced bread, and may stay that way (…at least until blue bottle opens here.) visit the unlikely flatiron neighborhood (perhaps you’re already at the empire state building?) for this gorgeous cafe featuring some of the best quality coffee roasted in the city, via the stumptown roast post in red hook, brooklyn. french press and espresso are available here, and you can drink them at the standing bar or in the intensely hip-chic lobby of the adjoining ace hotel. don’t miss out on the baked goods; they’re among the best cafe treats in the city. i heart the beet muffin and the pretzelbrot stick with butter.
extra credit : joe upper west side (while you’re in mid-central park…), rbc (new york city’s only slayer machine), kaffe 1668 (perhaps after you’re done with century 21’s bargains and a trip to gawk at the world trade center site?)
and now, swim across the river….
cafe grumpy greenpoint (193 meserole ave at diamond)
[G to greenpoint ave or nassau ave]
brooklyn cafes have an entirely different feel than their manhattan counterparts, even within the same company. cafe grumpy’s greenpoint store was the first of their three, and, despite often seeming like a study hall, has the comfiest vibe. this is where you come for cappuccinos and craft fairs, clover coffee and watching attractive young people use facebook, etc. sit at one of the common tables, or at the bar overlooking the grumpy roastery. if you’re lucky, there are hard boiled eggs today.
gimme! coffee (228 lorimer street between grand and powers)
[G/L to lorimer street-metropolitan ave, J to lorimer]
though it took me awhile to get past the complete williamsburg hipster ethos of the original nyc gimme! shop, it turns out everyone fits in, at least everyone who simply wants a tasty cup of coffee. the bar seats here are the most community-feeling, regulars-filled spots i know in brooklyn. espresso, clever dripper coffee, and sweetheart staff.
see also: el beit (bedford ave between north 8th and north 9th, serving vancouver’s 49th parallel coffee) and variety coffee (graham avenue between skillman and conselyea, another iconically hip outpost that was the first (?) cafe in brooklyn to serve stumptown.)
brooklyn: park slope
southside coffee (652 6th avenue at 19th street)
[M/R to prospect ave, F/G to 4th ave-9th street]
how much to love southside coffee? so much. i’ve said it before on these pages, but the shop basically looks like three dudes just bought some leather sofas and read some spongepaint tips and decided to take a break from reading sandman comics and make really fantastic espresso instead. it sounds out of your way, but they do a great great job. serving intelligentsia coffee, the boys will make you a “gordito” and urge you across the street to lot 2 for dinner. take their advice…
see also: cafe grumpy (383 7th avenue between 11th and 12th, the smallest and cutest of the grumpies), cafe pedlar (court street at warren, a stumptown partnership with frankie’s 457 restaurant serving stump coffee and frankie’s baking).
new york is a city of many, many coffee shops, several good, some great. there are doubtless ones i’ve forgotten, or who have grown better or worse since this list was imagined. explore and judge for yourself…after all, the actual destination is only half the fun, especially in a city as great as this one.