Where to Drink the Best Coffee in NYC

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El Rey's iced Vietnamese coffee.
El Rey's iced Vietnamese coffee.

There has never been a better time to drink coffee in New York City. Shops that name-check specialty roasters are popping up from south Brooklyn to northwestern Queens, new cafés boast the latest and greatest in caffeine-extracting technology, and there’s even an active coffee scene in Flushing’s Korean commercial district. It’s increasingly easy, in other words, to find a great cup of coffee, no matter where you are. With all these shops and specialty roasters, though, the question becomes where to find the best of the best. Here are the top 22 coffee shops in New York City.

Abraço (East Village)
Its minuscule size, total lack of indoor seating, and somewhat limited hours (though it now thankfully stays open until 6 p.m.) didn’t stop Abraço from developing an outsize, devoted following willing to squeeze in for a cappuccino or freshly brewed drip coffee. Owner Jamie McCormick, a former Blue Bottle barista whose appearances behind the La Marzocco regulars follow closely, takes a focused approach to both roasting, which he does in Greenpoint, and brewing, favoring blends and consistency of flavor — which explains why fans still flock here like they do.

Blue Bottle's New Orleans–style iced coffee.
Blue Bottle's New Orleans–style iced coffee. Photo: Matt Dutile

Box Kite (East Village and Upper West Side)
The tiny, tidy St. Marks original became exceedingly popular thanks to top-notch espresso drinks and pour-over coffee made by focused, adept baristas. Using beans sourced from roasters like Michigan’s Madcap and San Francisco’s trendy Ritual, they put an emphasis on clean, complex flavors. There’s now a second Upper West Side location, which has counter seating only, but the original has a bar and a few tables if you can snag one. There are also booze pairings for your brew, if you’re in the mood for a double dose of stimulation.
 
Culture Espresso (Midtown West)
These artsy west-side shops would stand out anywhere in the city, but they’re particularly welcome in quality-caffeine-starved midtown. The espresso is a boon to midtown breakfasters, who are drawn by the top-notch espresso drinks brewed with Heart espresso, of Portland, Oregon; the ridiculously good cookies, baked in-house, are a nice bonus.

El Rey's iced Vietnamese coffee being made.
El Rey's iced Vietnamese coffee being made. Photo: Melissa Hom

La Casa del Caffe (Morris Park)
This small Bronx café doesn’t traffic in gourmet beans, and it’s proof of how much a gifted barista can get out of a more ordinary product. The owner and shot-puller, Anna Agovino, is a immigrant from southern Italy who came to coffee-making late in life. Her dark, bitter, and heavy-roasted espresso is out of vogue with today’s emphasis on fruity, lighter flavors, but it’s masterfully made.

Working the Modbar at Little Collins.
Working the Modbar at Little Collins. Photo: Liz Clayman
Making a cortado at Maialino.
Making a cortado at Maialino. Photo: Melissa Hom

Marlow & Sons (Williamsburg)
The sunny front café and general store at Andrew Tarlow’s neighborhood restaurant is a great place to go discover your next favorite roaster. Over the years, beans have been sourced, variously, from such of-the-moment brands as Four Barrels and George Howell, which was founded by an industry veteran with over 40 years of experience, and it’s always top-quality. One note: Because there’s only one barista making coffee, it’s best to go on weekdays, when it’s more low-key and slower.
 
Ninth Street Espresso (Chelsea, East Village, Midtown East, and Gowanus)
Since ushering in New York’s third-wave era in 2001, Ninth Street has expanded, at the clip of a Chemex, from its Alphabet City home. Founder Ken Nye has placed an emphasis on simplicity and traditional drinks since the beginning, and the menu, thankfully, remains focused on the Italian classics.

Parlor Coffee (Williamsburg)
Since opening as pop-up in the back room of a trendy Brooklyn barbershop, where it still operates, Parlor has kept it simple by serving espresso and only espresso — and roasting the beans in-house, despite the constraints. The micro-roaster quickly developed a cult following for its perfectionist ways and, thanks in part to a roastery and tasting room in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, has become the local coffee of choice for the latest wave of New Brooklyn shops and restaurants.
 
Plowshares (Upper West Side)
The upstate roaster’s first New York City outpost is home to some of the best coffee you’ll find up- or downtown — a boon for this neighborhood. The café is, no surprise for those familiar with the low-key brand, quietly committed to making a very good cup of coffee, exclusively brewed with the beans owner Anthony Kurutz carefully roasts in small, 30-pound batches.

Chemex at Third Rail.
Chemex at Third Rail. Photo: Matt Dutile

Third Rail Coffee (East Village and Greenwich Village)
The Sullivan Street original is compact even by Manhattan standards, but the espresso — there’s a single-origin and a blend — is worth the squeeze. It became instantly notable when it opened for its use of the Chemex brewing method, but maintains a dedicated following because of its consistent quality. The East Village sequel is, comparatively, large, but the baristas are just as attentive, and the coffee equally excellent.
 
Southside Coffee (Sunset Park)
The café is know for its espresso drinks, so find out what the buzz is about and get a shot of George Howell’s ever-evolving, seasonal Alchemy blend. Southside also makes its drip coffee with beans from that esteemed roaster, and the laid-back, pretense-free atmosphere makes this one of the better places in town to linger over your mug. Just don’t forget to order one of chef-owner Josh Sobel’s sublime breakfast sandwiches: Paired with the delicious coffee, it’s one of the city’s best wake-up calls.

Supercrown's coffee milk shake with
Supercrown's coffee milk shake with Photo: Melissa Hom

Supercrown Coffee Roasters (Bushwick)
Along with the very well-done standards, like a smooth cortado with perfectly creamy milk and a pleasantly acidic drip coffee, this sunny, industrial-chic café and micro-roaster serves creative, thoughtful specialty drinks, like a coffee milkshake and hot chocolate spiked with espresso during the winter, that are built around the flavors of specific beans. Co-founded by Darlene Scherer, who was on the cusp of the third-wave movement when she opened Gorilla Coffee in 2002, it’s one of the most exciting additions to New York’s coffee scene in recent years.

Sweetleaf (Greenpoint, Long Island City, and Williamsburg)
This Queens favorite became Long Island City’s go-to café through charming, friendly service coupled with an ambitious coffee program. It’s since expanded to include a Williamsburg location, a Greenpoint roastery, and a combination café-cocktail bar (in partnership with nearby bar Dutch Kills) on the LIC waterfront. Any one will do, but the original still holds a place in its devoted fans’ hearts.
 
Toby’s Estate (Flatiron, Midtown East, West Village, and Williamsburg)
The shots here, another Australian import, are among the best you’ll find in town, thanks in part to the very precise, pressure-controlled Strada machine it introduced to New York at its Williamsburg location. They’re equally as adept with pour-over coffee and roast an array of single-origin beans with a variety of different flavors, so you can pick and choose depending on your tastes.

Variety (Bushwick, Greenpoint, and Williamsburg)
Variety has been a consistent source of East Williamsburg’s best coffee during its tenure as the premier locals’ café for Graham Avenue residents. The cozy original is always bustling and a solid place to post up over a cappuccino. Less busy and comfortably spacious is the Bushwick outpost, which opened in 2014, and where they’re now roasting their own beans.
 
WTF Coffee Lab (Fort Greene)
The counter-seating-only café offers several brewing methods, from your standard sock pot to Chemex, on a sliding scale of body to flavor. The whole shop looks like a laboratory, and the focus on flavor is so strict that a handful of drinks (cortados, the Spanish-style bon bon, even straight espresso) are only available to drink in-house, but you’re rewarded with a coffee that’s very much worth the fuss.

The original Sweetleaf in Long Island City.
The original Sweetleaf in Long Island City. Photo: Matt Dutile

*This post has been updated to show that Blue Bottle’s Chelsea location no longer has a siphon bar.