Facebook/Jack’s Stir Brew
New York runs on coffee — barely drinkable office swill, fast coffee from carts and bodegas, utility lattes from mega-chains like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, and the actual good stuff from local roasters and beloved cafés.
The latter is what really feeds our addiction, and at $ 5 a cup, drains our bank accounts.
Keep scrolling to check out some of Manhattan’s most beloved coffee institutions, the places New Yorkers go to get their fix and even spend an entire Sunday afternoon.
From Portland, Oregon, Stumptown is the OG craft coffee shop. It sources the best beans in the world straight from farmers and roasts them with the utmost care and precision. All of its baristas must graduate from a 12-week intensive training program.
There are two locations in New York, one in Greenwich Village and one in The Ace Hotel. The former was once the home of the Eighth Street Bookshop, a haunt of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. At the brew bar you can have your coffee made with a Chemex, AeroPress, and other gadgets.
This tiny coffee bar is inspired by similar stalls in Spain and Italy. There’s a windowsill bar and a slim table and bench out front where you can quickly down your espresso and polish off a slice of proprietress Elizabeth Quijada’s famous olive oil cake.
Quijada opened Abraço with her husband, Jamie, in 2007. With tight quarters and a loyal East Village clientele, it’s a convivial little shoebox with music thumping at all hours. The couple roasts their own beans and are known for interesting blends such as Lil’ Jeffy, which has notes of chocolate, strawberry, and “cigar box wood and papa’s pipe tobacco.”
Blue Bottle Coffee
With seven locations in New York, California’s Blue Bottle coffee shop has this writer’s favorite iced coffee. Its New Orlean’s style cold brew is made with chicory and a touch of cane sugar for a supremely decadent yet mellow flavor.
They’re also known for their pour-over coffee and a commitment to only using beans less than 48 hours out of the roaster. At the flagship NYC shop in Chelsea, single origin coffee selections change seasonally and public cuppings held every Saturday are open to the public.
A teensy coffee shop by day and still-minuscule upscale restaurant by night, Box Kite‘s coffee program is spearheaded by one of the city’s most celebrated coffee nerds, Cora Lambert.
“We try to find those unicorn coffees, the ones that sing,” she told New York Times writer Oliver Strand. Coffees change daily based on what Lambert is liking at the moment. Espresso shots are pulled from a custom Synesso Hydra machine with wooden handles and actuators. Order the cleverly named One + One, a single espresso and macchiato served flight-style with a glass of seltzer and a homemade graham cracker.
This Philadelphia roaster has cafés in Philly, New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC. Recently it received a large cash infusion from a new investor, Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya. So get ready to see more cafés and a retail expansion of La Colombe‘s bottled drinks very soon.
In New York, La Colombe has five cafés, our favorite of which is the cozy, brick-walled Tribeca location. The baristas there create consistently stunning latte art served in La Colombe’s signature, vintage-style cups. Espresso drinks are strong, but have a deep sweetness that’s insanely comforting.
Born and bred in New York, Birch is consistently ranked among the best places to get an iced coffee in Manhattan. They even offer delivery of their cold brew coffee growlers.
With five cafés, Birch goes beyond the standard coffee shop pastry case to serve sandwiches and soups, as well as beer and wine. The coffee to order here is the Kyoto drip cold brew, which is made in a stacked glass beaker contraption that looks straight out of an episode of “Breaking Bad.”
Laughing Man Coffee & Tea
Australian actor Hugh Jackman is behind this closet-sized café in Tribeca. He opened the shop after meeting an Ethiopian coffee farmer named Dukale while filming a documentary in the country. The title of the documentary is “Dukale’s Dream,” also the name of Laughing Man’s most popular coffee.
The best thing to order at Laughing Man is hands down the flat white, which was pretty much unknown to New Yorkers when the shop opened in 2011. In between a latte and a cappuccino, the flat white has been popular in Australia for ages. It consists of a single or double shot of espresso with a slightly less aerated, velvety blanket of steamed milk on top.
Jack’s Stir Brew
Jack’s Stir Brew cafés have a vintage general store feel, with merchandise curated by owner Jack Mazzola for sale alongside vegan doughnuts and other house-made pastries and food.
The excellent coffee is made on Mazzola’s patented Stir Brew machine, and is fashioned into an array of drinks, both classic and unique to Jack’s. Creations like the Apple Jack, a honey cinnamon latte, and the Teddy Boy, a shaken mix of espresso, cream, and sugar that’s served over ice, are a few of the more inventive ways Mazzola serves his organic, fair trade, shade grown coffee.