In New York City, you’re never more than a block away from a Starbucks; they are as bountiful as pigeons in this city. But, if you’re willing to look, there are also loads of independent cafes out there — warm, cozy spaces that smell like heaven and are extra-special because they belong to you and you alone (or at least they feel like they do). This list is a celebration of those happy spots where every barista knows your name.
St. Kilda Coffee Strong brews, rich pastries, and a book exchange to boot; St. Kilda in Manhattan's midtown hood is a bright and buzzy haven from the bustling streets outside. Stop in and enjoy a cup of coffee while you munch on one of their gluten-free cheddar scones and rest your weary asphalt-stomping kicks.
St. Kilda Coffee, 328 W 44th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenue); 917-262-0945. Photo: Via @ caughellrhymeswithgoggle. More
Madman Espresso Known for their friendly baristas, cozy yet sharp interiors, and rich java blends, Madman Espresso is a solid spot to grab your next clean cup of Joe with a smile — along with one, or several, of their delectably fresh pastries. We're thinking of a mid-afternoon almond croissant-chai latte combo. You?
Madman Espresso, Multiple locations within Manhattan. Photo: Via @giedregrey. More
Chillhouse Part coffeehouse, part spa; Chillhouse in NYC's Lower East Side is just about as chill of a café as they come (did the name tip you off?) Stop in for an iced beet or ube latte and a fresh manicure, all in one shot — the vibes are airy, the brews are tasty, and the scene is calm, cool, and collected.
Chillhouse, 149 Essex Street (at Stanton Street); 646-678-3501. Photo: Via @rachelxbarber. More
The Good Sort A stop by The Good Sort in Soho is in order — if only for their rainbow iced latte with cloudy and calming layers of matcha, turmeric, and beetroot blends. It's the ideal cafe for swinging into spring with majorly multicolored splashes; try the pinky beetroot and hummus toast (with Chinese dukkah and seasonal radish) and wash it down with an iced the purple acai. It's all groovy, baby.
The Good Sort, 5 Doyers Street (between Division Street and St. James Place). Photo: Via @kro216. More
Double Dutch Espresso A cozy coffee haunt in Harlem, Double Dutch serves up rich roasts with savory (and sweet) small bites. Stop by in the warmer weather for a seat on their back patio — and be sure to grab an order of the avocado toast with your cafe au lait. It's divine.
Double Dutch Espresso, 2194 Frederick Douglass Boulevard (at W. 118 Street); 646-429-8834. Photo: Via @zacharybeukema. More
Three Seat Espresso
Looking for a place to grab coffee and a fresh cut? Look no further than Three Street in the East Village: part espresso bar, part barber shop. Try an order of the avocado toast with lemon, olive oil, and sesame seeds, washed down with a tall macchiato — oh, and a hair cut of course! As they say, "It's not just a cut, it's a lifestyle."
Three Seat Espresso, 137 Avenue A (between E. 9th and St. Marks Place); 917-388-2769. Photo: Via @themonoclemuse. More
A cool-café nestled in downtown Manhattan's Nolita neighborhood; Integral is integral for shopping, sipping, noshing, and mingling. Grab a rich mocha, a delicate lavender cookie, and a spot by the window (for prime people watching and Instagram lighting).
Café Integral, 149 Elizabeth Street (at Kenmare Street). Photo: Via @voyagemagazine_. More
Maman French café fare brought straight to the streets of NYC, Maman creates coffee and pastry magic out of locally-sourced ingredients. Step inside any one of the locations, with faded blue tiled floors and white-washed wood panels, and you may as well be setting foot in the South of France. We'll be there, munching on a pistachio chocolate croissant and sipping a lavender latte.
Maman, Multiple locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Photo: @ _mamannyc_. More
1080 Brew Get your caffeine boost from this tiny coffee outpost in an unmarked Bushwick warehouse. The more than affordable brews and bites are displayed on a chalky board above the door and the vibes are calm and cozy. In short, it's the perfect little off-the-beaten-path spot to grab a cortado and a croissant.
1080 Brew, 1080 Wyckoff Avenue (at Decatur Street) in Brooklyn. Via: @ 1080brew. More
Ground Support Ground Support in Soho offers up house-roasted brews, cozy wooden communal benches, and baked goods to boot. The vibes are airy and simple with ample space for working and/or socializing — over an espresso and a butter crunch cookie, of course.
Ground Support, 399 W. Broadway (at Spring Street); 212-219-8733. Photo: Via @ lisadengler. More
Cha Cha Matcha Little Italy's Cha Cha Matcha is a scene (and a half-caf). So if you find yourself downtown and looking for the trendiest in iced green tea lattes, this coffee shop is your spot. Serving up dreamy-hued beverages, baked goods, and swirled soft serve in a poppy setting, Cha Cha has the Manhattan matcha hookup.
Cha Cha Matcha, 373 Broome Street (at Mott Street); 646-895-9484. Photo: Via @ chachamatcha. More
Regular Visitors Both parts coffee and shop, Regular Visitors in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill offers up rich bean blends and a carefully curated home goods selection — from design magazines to a wide assortment of hip knick knacks, chocolate croissants, quirky lattes, and more. Touting itself as a "general store" of sorts, RV is a very welcoming one stop shop.
Regular Visitors, 149 Smith Street (at Bergen Street) in Brooklyn; 646-766-0484. Photo: Via @ regularvisitors. More
Cafe MUD A spinoff of the beloved MUD coffee truck, this cafe is nestled near downtown Manhattan's NoHo neighborhood. The interior is funky wooden farmhouse meets city coffee shop — and the brews are just as eclectic. If you aren't stopping by for a cup of Joe, then maybe one of their many craft beers with a "Huevos Bowl" will do the trick.
Mud, 307 East 9th Street (at 2nd Avenue); 212-529-8766. Photo: Via @foodnpixels. More
Little Skips This rustic little Bushwick spot is a caffeine haven for skipping the hustle and bustle of Manhattan town. Brewing Counter Culture Coffee by the mugful and serving gourmet "sammies", Little Skips has comfort cafe fare nailed. Try the "Bomb Latte" that's delightfully sweetened with condensed milk. Or the "Turkey Brie Sammie", adorned with apple slices and dijon mustard on a grilled ciabatta bun (strawberry jam optional, but encouraged).
Little Skips, 941 Willoughby Avenue (at Charles Place); 718-484-0980. Photo: Via @ littleskips. More
Ninth Street Espresso Ninth Street Espresso, contrary to popular belief, cannot be found on 9th Street. With multiple locations across Manhattan's upper, middle, and downtown areas, this minimalist (i.e. small, clean, and quaint) coffee shop offers up rich and straightforward espresso brews — without all those vanilla soy lattes or half-caff macchiato bells and whistles.
Ninth Street Espresso, Multiple locations in Manhattan. Photo: Via @ ndpyeye. More
The Queens Kickshaw This Queens-based spot serves up fabulous cocktails, beer, comfort-food — and of course, coffee. Sourcing local ingredients from NY based farmers, the Kickshaw promises the freshest in fare and roasted beans. Open from dawn until long past dusk, this place caters with care to early risers and those burning the midnight oil.
The Queens Kickshaw, 40-17 Broadway (at Steinway Street); 718-777-0913. Photo: Via @ yanyahgotitmade. More
D'Amico Coffee Roasters Established way back in 1948 by an Italian immigrant, this family-owned coffee cafe has well-established its name as a beloved neighborhood joint. Offering a wide variety of rich roasts, D'Amico caters to all serious sippers (and also those just looking for a solid cup of Joe) — so stop by for a cup on the fly, or stock up and take home the freshest bags of beans around.
Note: The "White Christmas" blend is magic in a mug.
D'Amico Coffee, 309 Court Street (at Degraw Street) in Brooklyn; 347-294-4740. Photo: Via @ gzalka. More
Hi-Collar With a name signifying "Japan's flirtation with the west," Hi-Collar is by far one of the coolest coffee experiences in NYC. Offering both hot and cold caffeinated brews in addition to a selection of sake, it's your go-to cafe for transitioning from day to night in the Big Apple.
Hi-Collar, 214 East 10th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues); 212- 777-7018. Photo: Via @hi_collar. More
Birch Coffee If you're a serious coffee connoisseur, then Birch Coffee is your spot. With carefully selected beans, fresh pastries, AND Dough Donuts — there are certainly no wrong decisions to be made. And when you've had your fill of java and treats, stick around for their happy hour, offering up some different types of "brews".
Birch Coffee, 56 7th Avenue (between West 13th and 14th Streets); 212- 686-1444. Photo: Via @ reallifeginger. More
Cafe Grumpy Attention: Do not let the name of this carefree cafe fool you. Grumpy is filled with happy baristas serving up top-of-the-line java, keeping the customers gleeful. Not to mention the no laptop policy that encourages a little non-virtual, human to human, communication. With multiple locations across Manhattan, this coffee spot is the place for a personal cup of Joe.
Cafe Grumpy, Multiple locations in Manhattan. Photo: Via @ cafegrumpy. More
The Wooly Daily If you work downtown, or happen to find yourself wandering about the neighborhood, this coffee shop is a must visit. The tiny and retro space is nearly undiscoverable to the busy pavement pounders. But for those careful caffeine seekers, you'll find tasty brews among a unique bounty of pastries and limited barstool seating — so be ready to grab your artfully designed mammoth cup for a sip and go.
The Wooly Daily, 11 Barclay Street (at Broadway); 646-807-9665. Photo: Via @ thewoolydaily. More
Astoria Coffee Run by a local couple brewing up beans from across the country, Astoria Coffee is the epitome of a comfy neighborhood joint. Stop by for a great cup of Joe and a fresh pastry from Amy's Bread — or in the warmer months, a Melt Bakery ice cream sandy.
Astoria Coffee, 30-04 30th Street (at 30th Avenue) in Astoria; 347-410-7399. Photo: Via @ jocelynrunice. More
Bien Cuit Translated from French, bien cuit means "well done" — and we'd have to agree. This darling café in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill doles out carefully crafted bean brews, freshly baked breads, and enchanting Parisian pastries. The atmosphere is casual but buzzing with neighborhood foodies and families alike. If you're stopping by for a coffee, you may as well wash down a salmon tartine or pain au chocolat.
Bien Cuit, 120 Smith Street (between Dean and Pacific Street); 718-852-0200. Photo: Via @ lizbuttchin. More
Tekoá Tekoá is owned by its tapas next door neighbor, La Vara — and runs in the same Spanish cuisine vein. Nestled on top of cozy Cobble Hill Park, this coffee shop offers good brews, great food, and relaxing vibes. Eat and sip in, or take your fare to-go and park it on a nearby bench.
Tekoá, 264 Clinton Street (at Verandah Place); 347-987-3710. Photo: Via @ warbyparker. More
Smith Canteen Run by the same owners as Wilma Jean and Nightingale Nine, this tiled Carroll Garden's cafe is sweet and simple. With an assortment of local muffins, croissants, cookies, breakfast sandwiches and even some solid lunch options, it's a lovely neighborhood spot to grab your java.
Smith Canteen, 343 Smith Street (at Carroll Street) in Brooklyn. Photo: Via @ lulamelissa. More
Hungry Ghost Caffeine addicts, right this way. The staff at this chain takes espresso supremely seriously and can wax poetic about the relationship between the cafe’s air and temperature to its precise little brew. There are four Brooklyn locations, but the most spectacularly beautiful one is the spacious, mural-covered space in the BRIC Arts Media House.
Hungry Ghost, Multiple Locations. Photo: Courtesy of Hungry Ghost. More
Abraço Come to Abraço for the coffee, stay for the delectable, homemade baked goods. The flavors are unique and unforgettable, from speciality olive-oil cake to rose almond cookies. The place is small, so get in, get stuffed, and get out.
Abraço, 81 East 7th Street (between First and Second avenues). Photo: Courtesy of Abraço. More
Culture Espresso Who knew a cafe in Midtown West could have this much charm? Nestled near the hub bub of Penn Station is this serene little escape, with lavender walls and Parisian chandeliers. Like the rotating art exhibits on the walls, the coffee is also carefully curated and beautifully presented.
Culture Espresso, 72 West 38th Street (at Sixth Avenue); 212-302-0200. Photo: Courtesy of Culture Espresso. More
Third Rail Coffee These tiny shops are not the place to while away the day reading or skimming Facebook on your computer. Instead, you’ll want to get in and out for their espresso, the most beloved item on the menu. The hot chocolate is also worth your time.
Third Rail Coffee, Multiple Locations. Photo: Courtesy of Third Rail Coffee. More
Cafe Lalo A dreamy slice of Paris, this spacious cafe boasts bold French posters, marble tables, warm brick walls, and twinkly lights. The menu features pages upon pages of gourmet drinks, while the glass display case shows off every kind of cake you can imagine. The cinematic-feel of the shop even received the Nora Ephron seal of approval: it was featured in her 1998 hit You've Got Mail.
Cafe Lalo, 201 West 83rd Street (at Amsterdam Avenue); 212-496-6031. Photo: Courtesy of Cafe Lalo. More
Whynot Coffee Step into any coffee shop these days and you might find yourself wondering what freelancers did before the dawn of free Wi-Fi. Whynot is especially proud of its "coffices," perfect little slots for beautiful downtown residents to tap away on their laptops. The graphic art on the walls and smell of roasting beans in the air only adds to the beauty.
Whynot Coffee, 175 Orchard Street (between East Houston and Stanton streets); 646-682-9065.
Photo: Courtesy of Whynot Coffee. More
La Colombe Torrefaction The decor of the La Colombe destinations is clean and minimalist, so you can focus on the freakin' amazing coffee. The three locations are always, always packed, but luckily, the baristas run a tight ship. And, trust us, the beans are worth the wait; they produce brews that are complex and flavorful.
La Colombe Torrefaction, Multiple Locations. Photo: Courtesy of La Colombe Torrefaction. More
Toby's Estate This small-batch roaster has expanded beyond its Williamsburg headquarters and is now staking claim with two Manhattan locations. The original spot has large, communal tables, high ceilings, and warm wood surfaces that'll remind you of your college library during finals — in the best possible, nostalgic way.
Toby’s Estate, Multiple Locations. Photo: Courtesy of Toby's Estate. More
Two Hands This Aussie-run joint might be the most Instagram-able cafe in the city. You’ll want to snap the drinks in mason jars, the abundant succulents, the avocado toast, and more. Yes, it’s a place for very pretty people, but it’s also damn good. Permission to use the Valencia filter.
Two Hands, 164 Mott Street (between Broome and Grand streets); 917-475-1815. Photo: Courtesy of Two Hands. More
Qathra If you’ve ever stood around awkwardly praying for a table in a cafe while worker bees huddle over their computers, you’ll love the "no laptops on weekends" policy in this Flatbush shop. It’ll allow you to sit back with a brew or lavish in the delicious brunch options, especially on the funny little back patio.
Qathra, 1112 Cortelyou Road (between Westminster and Stratford roads), Brooklyn; 718-484-3322.
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