Best Cafés in New York

Sip and Stay and Dream at New York City's Best Loved Cafes

Cafes are meeting places for people, places to feel warm, comfortable and above all, un-rushed.

A perfect weekend involves a cup of coffee and The New York Times. A perfect weekday day involves a cup of coffee at your desk. Notice what these days have in common?

The love of coffee goes far beyond the need for caffeine (although that is a beloved part of the bean). It is the ritual. You are required to wait, even if just for a moment, while the black liquid cascades into the cup. You get the chance to doctor it perfectly every time or ask a well-trained barista to take the reigns while you wait for your extra hot, no foam, decaf latte, thank you very much.

New York brims with coffee shops, but this list is about cafes, a tad different than a grab-and-go concept, this is more of a sip and stay. It is actually surprising that the city itself doesn't smell of coffee. Statistics estimate that New Yorkers drink seven times more coffee than people in other cities. No wonder people move so quickly.

You probably have heard of Starbucks, so we have chosen some java joints that are not quite as obvious. Take Cafe Grumpy, with creamy lattes and single-origin coffees. The experience is capped with their cups, complete with a grumpy face (kind of how you look before your first cup of the morning). Or appreciate the loyalty behind Culture Espresso, who only partners with one coffee roaster at a time. Most businesses are not that monogamous.

We challenge you to taste test from all ten of these cafes. On your mark, get set, caffeinate. 


A cheerful chalkboard sign can be easily missed in New York City. After all, we have things to do and Smartphones to watch. The chalkboard sign at Hole In The Wall lets you know that it is inside the 420 Building on 5th Avenue. Enter and you will be rewarded with Australian coffee made by Australians who want to share their enthusiasm and peppy attitudes. Within the confines of an office building, lineups aren't quite as long for a cup of coffee with a thick crema. Their flat whites are divine as expected with microfoam landing on top of a double ristretto shot. Don't miss the amazing homemade doughnuts, coming in flavors like passionate fruit cocoa nib dough. Selection changes daily.

Recommended for Cafés because: This minimalist joint serves up top-of-the-range roasted beans and some of the best doughnuts in town.

Courtney's expert tip: They have a big plan to open more locations in Midtown West as well as Brooklyn.

Read more about Hole In The Wall →

Little Collins Cafe has been named after a street in Melbourne, Australia, but it also isn't a big shop, therefore the name works on many levels. These Aussies wish to hit all the senses through their food and coffee options and have "brekkie" options that aren't the norm in New York City, such as toast with vegemite. There are also sweet options, like the "Sweet Uncle Fred" – roasted banana bread with ricotta, strawberries, honey, and toasted almonds. Their fancy under-the-counter brewing method is known as Modbar and it was the city's first. It brews a delectably smooth coffee that they serve in a bamboo colored cup. Cheers, mate.

Recommended for Cafés because: No need to choose between good coffee and good food. You can, in fact have both at the same place.

Courtney's expert tip: Avocado toast is a big deal right now in New York City and Little Collins Cafe does it well.

Read more about Little Collins Cafe →

The Gregory's coffee symbol is almost as popular in New York as the Starbucks' siren. Some people have even dressed up as Gregory for Halloween, green glasses and all (the glasses are really two mugs of coffee facing each other, asking you to "see coffee differently"). With locations splattered all over the city, the real Gregory is Greg Zamfotis, a well-dressed businessman who has been followed by GQ. The chain prides themselves on an unparalleled quality of freshness, both with pastries and with coffee options. On any given day, they serve three single origins, three blends and three brewing methods.

Recommended for Cafés because: Gregory's Coffee is serious about the bean and wide-spread enough to be found anywhere in New York City.

Courtney's expert tip: Consider becoming a Gregular, which is their form of a loyalty program. They even have a downloadable app with $5 given for every $50 spent.

Read more about Gregory's Coffee →


Cafe Grumpy's signature cup with its scowling, yet cute cartoon face, pays tribute to the version of you that is prevalent before you get your first cup of coffee of the day. Whether your visit to Cafe Grumpy is for your first or your seventh cup, it now has six locations dedicated to single cup brewing. The beans come from roasters around the country and they maintain direct relationships with their producing partners. Latte art is detailed and some of the baristas can even do it with their eyes closed (literally). The pour over coffee and milky cappuccinos are standouts. Pastries like pecan sticky buns and cardamom banana bread are made fresh daily.

Recommended for Cafés because: Socially responsible cups of coffee that also happen to be delicious.

Courtney's expert tip: There is a no-laptop policy to keep the focus on coffee and conversation.

Read more about Cafe Grumpy →

Kaffee 1668 currently has three locations, but the first opened in 2008 by two Swedish twin brothers, Mikael and Tomas Tjarnberg. With a stylish industrial vibe to the cafe, their specialty is single origin, directly traded and quality coffee that is served through a variety of brewing methods. The coffee menu reads like a wine list curated by a well-travelled sommelier. They even do serve wine here. Pastries are prettily presented and Manager Aya Nakamura bakes apple-cinnamon, pumpkin-pecan and blueberry muffins daily. Sheep are the spirt animals of the cafe, decorating everything from benches to coffee cups. Try playing the animal equivalent of "Where's Waldo?"

Recommended for Cafés because: Single-origin coffee so flavorful, you may be tempted to drink your cup without sugar.

Courtney's expert tip: Bring your laptop charged if you plan on working. There are no outlets here.

Read more about Kaffee 1668 →

A great cup of coffee is a powerful thing. It can be enough to make a New Yorker pause. Couple that with a fantastic pastry and for a moment all will be right in the world. Culture Espresso has the pairing of food and coffee down pat, with not one but two different types of espresso on offer, from Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea and Four Barrel Coffee. They also have cookies so delectable it could make someone on a juice cleanse reconsider their choice of nourishment. Chocolate chip and oatmeal cranberry are baked throughout the day, but they also have goodies from some of New York's favorite bake shops, such as Ceci Cela, Blue Sky Bakery, Ovenly, Dough Doughnuts, Corner Café, and Magpies. Enjoy the Victorian inspired interior complete with chandeliers hanging from the high ceilings. Coffee never looked so fancy.

Recommended for Cafés because: Culture Espresso is serious about their coffee and perhaps just as serious about the value of a good cookie.

Courtney's expert tip: Try the cold-brew, which will be poured out of tap.

Read more about Culture Espresso →

You know that a coffee shop is good when it has two branches, and one of them is in Bogota, Colombia. Devocion sells coffee that is sourced from farms that are hand-selected within the untamed regions of Colombia's most inaccessible zones. Above fair-trade prices are paid and beans are shipped 10 days after harvest for roasted. It is unlikely you have had coffee this fresh and it can be a dangerous habit to get into. Built in an industrial brick building, patrons can view the roasting room through glass doors. There is even a gorgeous plant wall with plants from – where else? – Colombia.

Recommended for Cafés because: Complex, rich coffee directly from Colombia (and we mean directly) to your cup.

Courtney's expert tip: The space is often used for events, from art instillations to live music events. You can also rent out the stunning and history room yourself for one heck of a coffee party.

Read more about Devocion →

This craft coffee roaster has cafes in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. CEO and co-founder Todd Carmichael even has his own travel show where he scours the globe for the best beans possible. Natural light floods the New York City location, which has self-serve syrups and draft coffee. Lineups get long if you go first thing in the morning, but service tends to be quite fluid. Cortados (espresso with a small amount of steamed milk) are strong and can also be made with almond milk. Unique baked goods are made in house and include pretzel croissants. Grab some beans on your way out the door if you have become a convert.

Recommended for Cafés because: La Colombe specializes in coffee with tons of flavor, for the connoisseur at heart.

Courtney's expert tip: There is such a thing as a draft latte. Tag the keg and feel more energetic.

Read more about La Colombe →

Greenwich Village

At the heart and soul of Greenwich Village stands a tiny, romantic destination known as Caffe Reggio. And at the heart of the Caffe Reggio stands a magnificent espresso machine, burnished, and shiny and promising like an altar to the great god of cocoa beans. The original owner was Domenico Parisi and the machine was made in 1902. Since then, the Caffe Reggio has offered fabulously made espresso and cappuccino in a tranquil, romantic, dark wood 19th century setting with artifacts and artwork from the Caravaggio school, a piece the owner refused to give to any museum, a bench that once belonged to the Medici family with the Florentine crest embellishing it. This is where New Yorkers in the know go for a few moments of grace, warmth and yes cappuccino. The menu includes panini, soups, salads, breakfast.

Recommended for Cafés because: Share a dessert here with someone you love: every corner of Caffe Reggio transports you to a higher place; it is all about soul, l'anima.

Maria's expert tip: Just off Washington Square Park, arrive at midday when you can slip into a dark corner and pretend you are in Italy or France.

Read more about Caffe Reggio →

Ok not quite as old as the Caffe Reggio for instance, but Omonia Café opened in 1977 when a young John Arvanitis immigrated from Greece to New York. Since then, it has glassed itself in in winters on the corner of Broadway and 33rd Street in the heart of bustling Astoria and added Omonia Cafe-Next Door and Omonia Café in Bayridge, Brooklyn. Known for elaborate desserts, traditional Greek pastries so sweet you need an espresso to counterbalance the sugar and it became famous for the cake they baked for the film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." You can also have a light lunch, dinner here or breakfast and unlike American coffee shops and cafes, you will get a bill until you ask for it, so relax.

Recommended for Cafés because: Omonia Café sparkles all year round and like a chameleon, Omonia brims at night with inventive cocktails as the music rises.

Maria's expert tip: Omonia Café-Next Door has a secret: a walled in garden wired for wi-fi, a place where you can sip your coffee, or tea, nibble your muffin or baklava and actually work in this corner of Greece in New York City.

Read more about Omonia Cafe →


Meet Maria Lisella

No matter how many countries Maria Lisella has visited (62), this native New Yorker finds the world at her doorstep in amazing Queens where its residents speak 138 languages.

Maria writes...  More About Maria