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  • Writer's pictureCem Ersoz

Specialty Coffee in New York City

A Quest to find the Best Coffee in NYC

New York City is enormous by any measure, and as such, it’s home to more than three thousand cafes, and some of the best specialty coffees you can find anywhere in the world. So on my last New York trip, I dragged my (very patient) girlfriend to more than 15 cafes across 5 days on a quest to find the best coffee New York has to offer. Here are my favorite specialty coffee destinations in New York, some honorable mentions, and my New York cafe wishlist (you can find this on my Pin Traveler Page) that I didn’t quite get to complete.

La Cabra – East Village

Open since May 2022, La Cabra is one of the newest cafes in New York, and it is perhaps the best cafe I’ve been to in my entire life. La Cabra is a small Danish cafe chain that serves a wide variety of delicious coffees and equally delicious pastries.

The staff here is legit. They know their coffee, and you can see them tasting different espressos and having coffee-discussions in the background. Ask them questions and they’ll surely lead you to the correct cup of coffee. I was mesmerized by the perfect pour over technique of the barista that prepared my pour over here. He was absolutely incredible, and it was a stunning show to watch.

The cafe itself is also quite beautiful with a minimalist and bright interior and decent outdoor seating area. You can see into the bakery space behind the counter where they make their pastries. It’s pretty neat watching the croissant you’re eating get made.

Patent Coffee – South of Midtown

Patent Coffee is the cafe of the popular cocktail bar Patent Pending. Located in the Radio Wave building that was once home to Nikola Tesla (hence the name), Patent Coffee occupies the unassuming waiting area to the bar.

It’s quite a small cafe, with no seats and a small coffee bar. It has a very limited set of coffees. When I visited, there was only a single option, which apparently is often the case – they have a rotating coffee selection throughout the year.

What sets this cafe aside is the staff. These people know their coffee and are incredibly helpful. I almost had a private coffee-tasting experience when I went in, the two baristas there talked to me about how I liked my coffee, made me different brews to test in order to find my favorite and only charged me for a single coffee (I forgot to take any pictures during the whole thing, oops)! This place just provides a super cool coffee/cafe experience and is an absolute joy to visit.

Devocion – Williamsburg

Image taken from Devocion's Website

Devocion exclusively serves Colombian coffees in different New York neighborhoods. They buy their coffees directly at the origin in Colombia and fly direct to their roastery in Brooklyn (or so they claim). It’s certainly an admirable effort in better-than-fair-trade coffee, and they have great coffee to show for it. I’ve only been to the Williamsburg location, but all locations are on my Pin Traveler wishlist, and they all look gorgeous. The coffees here are great, and the space is wonderful to hang out and get some work done for a few hours.

10,000 Coffee – FiDi

Located on Wall Street right by the NYSE and the Wall Street Station, 10000 is a great little cafe to grab a great cup of specialty coffee before a busy day. There’s no seating in or outdoors so it’s definitely a grab-and-go location in line with the FiDi spirit. They have multiple beans for espresso and a decently large variety of fresh batch-brewed coffee, so plenty of options to try and definitely something for most people.

Ninth Street Espresso – East Village

The menu here is simple, you can get espresso or batch brew, with or without milk. I tried the espresso without milk, which was quite good. Worth a visit just to see the refreshingly simple menu.

Some Honorable Mentions

Of course not every cafe I visited was a hit, but a couple seemed noteworthy to mention here. Though I don’t think the coffee at these locations makes the cut, they may still be worth the visit.

Little Collins – East of Midtown

It’s a neat, large location by Grand Central that is said to have great sandwiches (I haven’t tried, so can’t comment). They serve decent Stumptown coffee, but it’s nothing super special. Most of the lights were off when I visited so I didn’t love the vibes here, but the photos I see online are much brighter and friendlier. Overall decent, but not a must-visit-coffee-destination.

Hi-Collar – NoHo

Interesting Japanese coffee place that serves coffees from different roasters – most interestingly La Cabra. It’s a nice place to try different coffee-goods like Japanese Coffee Jelly. When I visited they were out of my top 3 coffee choices, and the coffee I did end up getting was quite unremarkable. The decoration was intriguing but didn’t feel the most appealing. There was also a prevailing high-pitched noise that was quite loud throughout my visit which was pretty annoying.

My New York Cafe Wishlist

Of course I didn’t get a chance to visit everything on my wishlist in 5 days. So here are my next new coffee destinations in New York City:

Intelligentsia Coffee – Highline

I feel like we’ve all tasted Intelligentsia coffee before, but the new(ish) Highline location seems super interesting and very thoughtfully designed.

Birch Coffee – Various Locations

Seems like a chill coffee-and-work kinda place.

Culture Espresso – Midtown

Gasoline Alley Coffee – Houston St.

Cool cafe with a bike mounted on the wall (or so Google Maps has led me to believe). Came highly recommended from a friend.

Irving Farm New York – A Few Locations

Seems like a cool local chain, the interior design looks awesome and came highly recommended by locals. Though the Google Maps ratings of some locations are a bit low.

Matto Espresso – Upper West Side

Hole-in-the-wall vibes with interesting pastries.

PPL – Williamsburg

I love the run-down and overgrown vibes. From what I can tell from the reviews, the coffee sounds great too!

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