A day in New York City doesn’t begin before coffee. Fortunately, the city has no shortage of interesting places to grab your morning cup. From a secluded Japanese coffeehouse to a bustling Mexican café, here are our favorites across downtown Manhattan.
It would be fairly easy to walk right by Hi-Collar’s unassuming exterior on Little Tokyo’s East 10th Street, but it would also be a mistake. By day, the 13-seat bar is in full-blow “kissaten” or coffeehouse mode. Upon entering, guests are transported to Japan’s Taisho era—a period when jazz music and Western influences on fashion and food made inroads. Behind the counter, baristas expertly prepare coffee using a range of elaborate methods: aeropress, siphon, flash-brewing, and “mizudashi” cold brews. In terms of eats, go for the katsu sando—only ten orders are made each day—or the omurice, a rice-stuffed omelette.
As leaders of the nation’s specialty coffee zeitgeist, Stumptown has managed to expand while maintaining neighborhood coffee shop appeal. We recommend the Greenwich Village shop in particular, which is housed in the former Eighth Street Bookshop that was once a hangout for literary greats like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. In addition to your standard coffee fare, Stumptown serves Steven Smith Tea as well an assortment of treats from Roberta's, Ovenly, and Donut Plant. Insider tip: If you’re interested in learning more about your caffeine, the Greenwich Village location holds public tastings at the Training Lab every Tuesday at 10am.
For a lovely coffee spot that doesn’t double as a co-working space, look no further than Café Integral. Opened in 2016, the modern, intimate café is the only standalone outlet from roastery founder César Vega, who can often be found behind the La Marzocco pulling shots of espresso himself. Vega started Integral as a way to honor his Nicaraguan origins by importing the region’s beans after he was unable to find them elsewhere. The list of inventive drinks includes espresso-spiked horchata and matcha fizz, a delightfully bubbly drink made with honey and rosemary. Insider tip: Café Integral offers a selection of house-made milk alternatives including coconut, cashew-pepita, and almond milk, which is slightly sweetened with dates and coconut.
Daily Provisions, the latest venture from hospitality powerhouse Danny Meyer, offers exactly what the name suggests—everything you need to eat in or takeaway throughout the day. Perched on a corner off Union Square, the snug space enjoys an abundance of natural light. For those looking to get comfortable, it’s worth noting that seating is limited with only a few bar stools in addition to standing counter room. While the Joe coffee in your cup will hit the spot, the French crullers deem the café worthy of an entire trip. These rings of fried pate a choux come in maple, cinnamon, or glazed and will make American doughnut aficionados question their loyalty. Insider tip: Don’t be scared off if there’s a long line when you arrive—managers take orders down the queue with iPads so your morning coffee is never too far away. Like all of Meyer’s concepts, hospitality is included, so you’ll notice there’s no option for gratuity after you swipe.
One of the original Aussie cafés, Two Hands’ outpost on Mott Street provides a welcome respite amongst the chaos of the area. Created by expats Henry Roberts and Giles Russell, the café slings quintessential Australian staples such as avocado toast, acai bowls, and flat whites made with Café Integral beans. The name is a reference to the handmade nature of the concept—the owners literally built the beach-y interiors themselves—and more subtly, a tribute to the beloved Heath Ledger film. Insider tip: Don’t overlook the signature banana bread, which comes topped with espresso mascarpone, toasted buckwheat, walnuts, and honey.
First opened in 2007, this basement level café from husband-wife team Jamie McCormick and Elizabeth Quijada has become an East Village institution. While McCormick handles all things coffee, Quijada churns out the pleasing baked goods behind the counter’s glass. The olive oil cake, a consistent favorite, is often joined by rose almond cookies, lavender shortbread, and other rotating pastries made with whatever ingredients the season has to offer. Abraço, meaning “embrace” in Portuguese, is an homage to the eponymous samba classic by Gilberto Gil. Insider tip: The café has a spacious interior perfect for holing up during the winter months as well as a patio out front with seating for warmer days.
In a sea of Australian cafés, Happy Bones makes a strong case for New Zealand ones. Tucked away on the edge of Little Italy, the minimalist shop pays tribute to the country’s longstanding espresso culture by serving long blacks, piccolos, and short macchiatos powered by Counter Culture. The space also moonlights as a gallery and book shop curated by the owners: art for sale hangs on the white-washed, exposed brick walls and a selection of titles are laid out for guests to flip through. It’s the perfect place to catch up with a friend if you’re lucky enough to snag one of three tables.
The sophomore restaurant from Mexico City dynamos Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes is the all day café you’ll never want to leave. At Atla, the duo carefully considers breakfast in a manner most chefs reserve for dinner. You can expect satisfying yet complex dishes like flaxseed chilaquiles, arctic-char tostadas, and split-pea tlacoyos. Coffee has also been subjected to this special treatment: café con leche comes with the option of cow, coconut, or cashew milk and café de olla, a traditional coffee sweetened with cane sugar and spiced with Mexican cinnamon, arrives hot or cold. However, sheer joy can be found in an off-menu order: toasted sesame horchata with a shot of espresso. Insider tip: For your evening coffee craving, order the Oaxacan Coffee—a cocktail made with Koch Olla de Barro, Americano, piloncillo, and Fleur de Cacao cream.
Ninth Street Espresso
For the indecisive drinker, Ninth Street Espresso makes life easier by only offering four drinks: hot coffee, cold coffee, espresso, and espresso with milk. Although it will be hard, embrace the lack of options—none of these rich, pure brews will disappoint. We’re partial to the original 9th Street location, with its industrial design, street-facing windows, and al fresco benches. The Chelsea Market spot, which is adjacent to their roastery, comes in close second. This probably goes without saying, but do yourself a favor by getting an espresso. Insider tip: On the weekends, the flagship café enforces a no Wi-Fi policy, so don’t arrive with your home office unless you want to tether off your phone.
Pioneers of America’s third wave coffee movement, Philadelphia-born chain La Colombe now has eight cafés across Manhattan. While none of the spots will do you wrong, the expansive NoHo spot is especially nice to pop by. Before the proliferation of cool brews on tap, La Colombe was serving iced red-eyes in lieu of the watered-down cold coffees of the past. Opt for one of these and take in the dimension of flavor that’s packed into the 16-ounce cup. If you’re in the mood for something with less punch, try the black and tan—half pure black and half draft latte. On any given day, snack on mixed berry scones, chocolate chip cookies, and pizzettes from The City Bakery, or almond croissants from Francois Payard.
Special thanks to Care of Chan.
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