By Lauren Itzla
(1/26/17 – Best of New York) There’s something magical about local coffee shops, and it’s not just the power of caffeine. Sipping a cup of joe in a hip café will put you in just the right place, whether you’re meeting up with a friend or colleague, hunkering down to get some work done, or simply reading the newspaper on a quiet morning. The coolest coffee shops go above and beyond excellent coffee, creating ideal atmospheres that invite customers to stay a while. They have quirky personalities, support local businesses, and draw people to their tables no matter the weather. New York has no shortage of unique, cozy places to sip a latte and take in the scenery. Here are our 10 favorites.
This popular Utica spot’s slogan is “Wake the Hell Up,” which reflects its no-nonsense approach to local coffee culture. The hip coffee spot roasts the highest-quality coffee available and has a mission to revitalize Utica’s downtown area with its responsible and supportive business practices. They recently opened a second location in Clinton.
Beloved by coffee aficionados and college students, Lark Street’s Stacks Espresso Bar focuses on brewing the finest coffee in the capital region. Its cute blue exterior opens into a surprisingly spacious interior with baristas who know their stuff. When you go, make sure you “embrace your inner coffee nerd” and try the pour-over coffee.
Ambience is everything at Recess Coffee—it’s located in the bottom floor of a gorgeous old Victorian home, with cozy café furniture to match. The coffee is roasted in small batches and is fair-trade and sustainably sourced. The coffee shop, open since 2007, has been wholly embraced by the community’s artists, musicians, students, and families, and was even voted one of 24 coffee shops “you have to visit” in America by People.com.
Since this excellent espresso bar opened its first location on Ithaca’s Cayuga Street in 2000, it’s been praised by everyone from local hipsters to major publications like Roast Magazine. Now, you can sip the locally roasted coffee in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Trumansburg, and three locations in Ithaca—including Cornell’s campus.
Buffalo is known for its great food scene and revitalizing downtown, and this corner café is proudly a part of it all. Sweetness 7 is in a restored old Victorian building with exposed brick walls and a warm, spacious interior. You can feel the Buffalonian culture in this coffee shop. When you go, make sure you try one of their fair-trade espresso drinks and a scrumptious food item from the menu.
If you’re looking for the best coffee shop in the Catskills, check out the female-owned Java Love in Bethel. This café overlooks the gorgeous White Lake, so it’s perfect for a relaxing morning cup with friends. You can also buy their sustainably farmed, organic, fair trade, Rainforest Alliance coffee online, with flavor profiles from “Light & Bright” to “Dark & Brooding.”
This Astoria gastropub/café boasts a drool-worthy grilled cheese and a cozy coffee shop atmosphere. With exposed brick walls and plenty of hipsters, you’ll find this neighborhood spot suitable for hanging out with a rich pour-over coffee, a plate of locally-sourced food, or a fine craft brew. Best of all: it’s open late.
The Chipped Cup is a hip coffee shop located way uptown in the Harlem neighborhood of NYC. The teeny-tiny spot has everything a coffee shop should—great coffee, free Wi-Fi, outdoor patio seating, loyal customers, and mismatched furniture to read on.
Designed by Greek architect Dionisis Sotovikis, this trendy Nolita café focuses heavily on producing artisan Greek yogurt made by grass-fed cows, scrumptious Greek food, and, of course, delicious Greek coffee and espresso drinks. They also have a spacious backyard and a gorgeous design, with white walls and wood elements throughout.
It’s possible to be a very cool, high-quality coffee shop that also sells surf gear, men’s clothing, and books. Just head to the SoHo gem Saturdays Surf NYC, where you can chill in the lush backyard garden and sip La Colombe Coffee brewed by the store’s espresso bar. There’s free Wi-Fi but plenty of opportunities to socialize, too.