I’ve lived in New York City my entire life, and sometimes what they say about New Yorkers are true: we do love a great cup of coffee. This bustling, fast-paced city is full of quiet and peaceful escapes in the form of unique coffee shops. Good lighting, the smell of roasting coffee brewing in the air, marble or wooden tabletops, voices of people as white noise in the background… Coffee shops are definitely my favorite places to get buried in a good book.
I spend a decent amount of time in these cafes, searching the menus for different types of coffee to satisfy my caffeine needs, but even more importantly: I look for great places to get stationed for a few hours with a good book. Sometimes getting a seat at a local coffee shop requires a little bit of a mad dash, but a fortunate aspect of living in such a big city: there are tons of coffee shops within walking distance of each other! Whether you’re a coffee or tea drinker, these coffee shops have the best of the best coffee in New York, and if you’re not a coffee/ tea person, these stores are still great to get together with friends, do some people-watching or grab a yummy pastry. After all, it does seem like coffee shops are the best ways to catch New Yorkers escape the daily grind of work.
Here are some of my absolute favorite coffee shops to frequent:
1. La Colombe (NoHo)
By far my favorite coffee shop in Manhattan! There are a few La Colombe Torrefaction locations in the city (and many other shops sell their coffee), but the location by NoHo is much bigger, so beautifully lit and designed. Any time I’m in SoHo I always have to run in and get my favorite – the famous “black and tan” iced coffee). There’s bound to be a long line on a weekend, but it’s one of the bigger coffee shops in the area, and full of standing room. And how cute are the designs on their cups and mugs? Obsessed!
2. Ludlow Coffee Supply (Lower East Side)
Manhattan’s Lower East Side is one of my favorite neighborhoods; it’s full of the best bars, boutiques and food… I recently discovered the rustic atmosphere of Ludlow Coffee Supply. The entire shop exudes homey vibes, with its giant glass walls, plants and wooden surfaces everywhere – a photographer’s dream! And of course, it’s a great place to finish a book, work on writing while sipping on their amazing Vietnamese iced coffee.
3. Maman (SoHo)
Maman NYC is the chicest bakery I’ve ever sat in… I absolutely love their lavender infused coffee, hot chocolate (pink hot chocolate on Valentine’s Day, I mean how cute is that!) and chocolate chip cookies. It’s the most adorable French bakery with the most elegant decorations and a pretty unique menu. They have several locations all over Brooklyn and Manhattan, but one of my favorites is on Hudson, which is just big enough to catch up with a bigger group of friends or spread out on the table with your laptop. Fun fact: the menu changes every day, so you’re sure to want to come back more often to try out all the different bakery and drink options! I would whip out a French or classical text (Jane Austen, anyone?).
4. Cha Cha Matcha (Little Italy)
Okay, this one is a little bit of a cheat because it’s not necessarily a coffee shop… But I’m too big of a fan of matcha (just a slight obsession, in that I need my matcha fix at least three times a week) to not mention Cha Cha Matcha. New locations have been popping up all over the city and it’s not surprising that it catches the eye of passerby. The storefront is bright pink, and the inside is full of palm trees patterns and neon signs. Their expansive variety of matcha lattes are fantastic, and you instantly feel like you’re transported to a California beachside. Books that come to mind are Sarah Dessen’s, Morgan Matson’s or Jenny Han’s books – fitting for a fun, summer read that fits the vibe so perfectly!
5. Variety Coffee Roasters (Chelsea)
I came across this coffee shop on a rainy day, almost on accident… and I’ve loved it ever since! The shop has an old school neon storefront (almost like one of those old fashioned diners!) and a very classic environment. A lot of New York Times readers and espresso drinkers, but I still liked the atmosphere. I like to people-watch in my periphery while I’m catching up on reading and this place was a great place to be anonymous and finally finish that last chapter.
6. Charley St (Chinatown)
I absolutely love a good Australian coffee shop, and Charley St has easily become one of my favorites. Their acai bowls are amazing, as is their coffee and pastries. The best seat in the house on a gorgeous Spring day is right by their garage-style door that serves as an open window. It’s a great place to relax, get distracted by the wild avocado wallpaper in their bathroom, and get an extra cup of premium coffee (yes, it’s worth that second cup).
Being the avid reader that I am, and having been raised in a place like NYC, I’m always on the lookout for a great, comfortable environment to do what I love most: get exposed to different cultures and capture day-to-day experiences. There’s no place quite like the diverse and electric hodgepodge of people like those in this city, and I’m happy to stay caffeinated while I tread through the busy streets!