I distinctly remember the first time I ever had good coffee. It was in a small chain coffee shop in Los Angeles and I ordered one of the regular coffees that were featured on the board for that day – I don’t remember if it was the Colombian or the Ethiopian or the Panamanian. I just wanted a regular cup of joe, and these were my choices. I picked one. They informed me there was only one size: small. I paid something like five bucks for it. I sat down and waited. Others who were in the line behind me and who ordered fancier and more specialty drinks than I, I noticed getting their orders before me. I got annoyed. Eventually, they brought me my coffee and suggested I not put any cream in it, at least until I tried it black. I looked down at my small coffee that took way too long and cost way too much and I was convinced I’d been ripped off. And then I sipped it. Immediately I realized that, for the first time in my life, I was drinking good coffee. It needed nothing. It was perfect and delicious exactly as it was. Full-bodied, nuanced, and even the small cup had me clearly and brightly awake for most of the day. I didn’t know why or how their coffee was so good (I later found out they serve pour-over coffee), but, from then on, it was the only coffee house I frequented. It is my wish that you, dear reader, have this same experience if you haven’t already. To this end, here is a short list of great coffee houses in the city. In celebration of International Coffee Day and beyond, here’s to a great cup of joe.
239 E 5th Street, New York NY 10003
Step into a place called Coffee Project, and the expectation is that they either take coffee seriously and do it right or that the projects are too experimental to be any good. In this particular case, thankfully, it’s the former. Coffee Project is devoted to an exceptional cup every time. Their baristas craft coffees like a proper mixologist would, explaining as they go along. High on the list of specialties is the deconstructed latte. This is a latte that has been broken down into its parts – you get a cup of espresso, a glass of milk, and a full latte. Tasting the drink this way helps you appreciate each component, and by the time you taste the full latte, each part seems to stand out a little more. This tiny shop in the East Village has garnered much attention from the press as well as locals. Since opening in 2015, they’ve been deemed “best of” in publications from Time Out New York to Harper’s Bazaar, and have already opened a second location in Brooklyn. Definitely worth checking out.
22 West 25th Street
For a classy take on your freelancing-in-a-coffeeshop day, step into MAMAN. This French-inspired, small local chain presents delicious, made-to-order breakfast, lunch, and brunch using the highest quality, locally sourced ingredients. Their baked goods include their famous nutty chocolate chip cookie, voted one of the best chocolate chip cookies in New York from NY Magazine, as well as one of Oprah’s ‘favorite things’ in 2017. And their coffee is from the renowned Partners Coffee Roasters, Brooklyn based purveyors of exceptional coffee. Partners sustainability practices alone are reason enough to support them, but if you’re looking for taste, you’ve come to the right coffee. They source from the highest quality producers around the globe, with flavors that encompass the total range of flavor profiles possible. Bon appetit!
The type of coffee experience described at the open to this article is the one you will have at La Colombe. These coffees are complex and full of flavor. Many of them are pour-over, meaning each cup of regular is crafted individually. The coffee at La Colombe is so good, that their flagship store in Pennsylvania was voted number one coffee in the state by Reader’s Digest, and their pre-bottled varieties were voted Best in America by The Daily Meal. Other publications have described La Colombe as having the best cup of coffee in New York. La Colombe also produces nearly 30 blends of whole beans for home brewing. So, whether you want exceptional coffee at home or in a cafe, you have that option with La Colombe. For the environmentalists among you, rest assured. The founders are philanthropists who abandoned careers as pilots and writers to devote themselves to coffee roasting, and the company sits at the forefront of the ethical trade movement. At La Colombe, you most certainly will enjoy your coffee, and you can also feel good about your purchase.
Now that you’re properly jacked up on some good beans, why not go explore some great art? Check out our guide to museum hopping in the city.