We review 47 cafes in NYC. Then feel a bit ashamed.

During our recent 150-day stay in New York City, we visited 47 cafes.

Just to be clear, that’s 47 different cafes. We went back to our favourites multiple times. We spent roughly $120 per month on coffee, all in all.

To be fair to ourselves, we do spend a lot of time working on laptops, and we need to take our work out into the world every so often to remind ourselves that other people exist. But what originally started as a quest for comfortable places with wifi soon became a very New Yorky obsession with coffee.

In particular, we became obsessed with cold brewed iced coffee. From never having heard of it before, we suddenly appointed ourselves as experts and bought all the gear to make our own at home. When a particular place didn’t have cold brew (or we just didn’t fancy it), I developed a real taste for cappuccino too.

Below are reviews of all 47. But in case you can’t be bothered to read through everything, here are our (hotly contested) favourites:

Top 5 places for cold brewed iced coffee:

  1. Birch Coffee (Midtown)
  2. Think Coffee (various, but the West Village in our case)
  3. Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company (Astoria and Chelsea)
  4. The Queen’s Kickshaw (Astoria)
  5. Irving Farm Coffee Company (Upper West Side)

Top 5 cappuccinos:

  1. Cafe Grumpy (various – we went to Park Slope, Chelsea and Lower East Side)
  2. Gorilla Coffee (Park Slope)
  3. Joe the Art of Coffee (various – we went to Upper East, Upper West, Chelsea and West Village)
  4. Ninth Street Espresso (various – we went to two in the East Village)
  5. The Tea Lounge (Park Slope)

Top 5 spots to sit and work:

  1. The Tea Lounge (Park Slope)
  2. Birch Coffee (Midtown)
  3. Panera Bread (Brooklyn Heights)
  4. Ninth Street Espresso (but only the one that’s actually on 9th street, between Avenues B and C)
  5. The Red Horse (Park Slope)

Want to read a two-line review of everywhere we went? OK!

Astoria

Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company – Really good cold brew, and a reliable place to sit and rinse the wifi. Just bring a sweater and an extra pair of socks, because damn their air conditioning is intense.

The Queen’s Kickshaw – Good cold brew, but served in tiny glasses. Apparently the wifi gets turned off after 6pm, but not when we were there. Try the miso pickles.

Time Cafe – More of a restaurant than a cafe, but they don’t object to people sitting there working during the day. Cappuccino a bit on the weak ‘n’ frothy side, but not too many options in this part of Astoria.

Brooklyn Hights

Panera Bread– Fast wi-fi, old Jewish man talking very loudly (your experience may vary) and massive bottomless coffee loophole – just get it in a takeout cup, fill it up before you leave so you’ve got one for the road, then pop back for a refill wherever you fancy. Fools.

Vineapple – Lots of tables, nice mix of people, decent cold brew, and bonus points for the British barista.

Chelsea

Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Co – Crazy busy on a Sunday morning, but a nice spot to work any other time . Great cold brew.

Cafe Grumpy – Best cappuccino in NYC, hands down. No laptops, fun orange cups, brand new outdoor patio area.

Joe the Art of Coffee – Barista so handsome I questioned my sexual preferences, no wifi, great cappuccino. Predominently gay clientele, but straight-friendly.

East Village

The Bean – My perceptions of The Bean have been warped by the fact that I got two free lunches here (in return for downloading an app. Twice). It’s therefore my favourite place EVER. But that aside, the cold brew wasn’t great (I had to add milk, which I never do) and the tables weren’t too comfy. Aggressively friedly server.

Coyi Cafe – Decent cappuccino, lots of outlets for laptops, but no air conditioning so consequently hotter than the sun.

Everyman Espresso – Good wifi. Felt a bit in the middle of nowhere (as much as that’s possible in Manahttan), but everyone was working hard on their laptops – so go here if you want to be shamed into upping your game.

Mud Spot – Mish’s favourite brewed coffee. Not a place for working, but fantastic outdoor patio for brunching.

Ost Cafe – Can’t be bothered to fly to Europe? Just go to Ost. Great atmosphere, good cappuccino, no wifi. Read the free newspapers, listen to the classical music and pretend you’re in fin de siecle Paris.

Sustainable NYC – So bloody sustainable they don’t put their air conditioning on. Good coffee; takeout cups may or may not have been knitted from free range yaks’ wool.

Ninth Street Espresso (the one that’s actually on 9th Street): Runner-up in my personal “Best cappuccino in NYC” awards. Cool crowd, good number of tables – good spot to work.

Ninth Street Espressso (the one that’s on 10th Street): Want that same great cappuccino without the hassle of tables or baristas who show any kind of human warmth? Just head down to 10th Street!

Flatiron District

Birch Coffee – Our champion of champions – best cold brew in NYC, and an awesome “library” upstairs (enter through the hotel lobby next door), where you can almost always grab a table. One hour’s free wifi with each purchase.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters – Takeout only, but you can take your drink through to the Ace Hotel lobby and use their wifi. As long as you’re not afraid of the dark.

Greenwich Village

Financier Patisserie – OK, we both had cold drinks and didn’t bring our laptops, so we don’t really have anything useful to say about this place. Er…the cakes looked good. But we didn’t try those either. Sorry.

Cafe Reggio – May or may not have wifi, but does have iced cappuccino and a killer tiramisu, so just take the afternoon off.

Lower East Side

Cafe Grumpy – Again, best cappuccino in New York, but this Grumpy is takeout only.

Atlas Cafe – Decor is fun, coffee is OK, giant map on the wall is awesome, but they play rather too much Frank Sinatra for my taste.

Park Slope

See our post on coffee shops in Park Slope.

Cafe Dada – It’s French! It’s Hungarian! They have lots of pastries! There’s good wifi! Go now!

Cafe Grumpy – Shall I say it again? Best cappuccino in NYC. Typically teeny tiny Grumpy store, so prepare to arm wrestle a lesbian for a table.

Forty Weight – Only open until 3pm, but home to the nicest server you’ll ever encounter. Given its size, they’re far too forgiving of people sitting and clogging the tables up all day with their laptopping.

Gorilla Coffee – Everyone loves it, so we didn’t want to. But we did. Great cappuccino, fun branding, really awesome music.

KonditoriPfft, don’t get me started.

Postmark Cafe – I was tired and remember very little, but people on Yelp like it so I probably didn’t.

Red Horse – Super cool music, reasonable coffee, good place to sit with a laptop for hours without getting hassled.

Tea Lounge – Lovelovelove. Love the cappuccino. Love that you could basically spend a whole day there (they do breakfast and beer). Love how they play terrible European techno and particularly violent hiphop in the middle of the afternoon. Great spot to work.

Tribeca

Le Colombe – Minuscule tables and lots of empty space around them – basically, the upscale designer clothes store approach. Reasonable cappuccino, no wifi.

Union Square

Pret a Manger – You get a wifi code with purchase, and the upstairs is generally a quiet place to get work done. Worth a mention only because you get to pour your own cofee, which is way more fun than Pret in the UK.

Upper East Side

Joe the Art of Coffee – Incredible cappuccino, and more tables than your average Joe (see what I did there?). Still no laptopping allowed though.

Cafe Noi – Only a couple of tables, and not the most comfortable. Wifi is decent.

Corrado Bread and Pastry – Mish assures me that we went here, but I have no memory of it. She says she had a can of Sprite, and it was – and I quote – “fine”.

Effy’s Cafe – The staff didn’t seem to like us much, but we’re not sure why. Maybe because we bought one Lipton ice tea each and sat there for hours. That could be it. Anyway, bit dingy and not that exciting.

Little Brown – Good wifi, but communal tables so bring headphones. You’re a fool if you drink coffee there though – you need to get one of their mega-chocolatey drinks instead.

Upper West Side

Joe the Art of Coffee – Strangely disappointing cold brew, no wifi, and a few tables but mainly good for takeout. Good for dog perving on a weekend morning.

Cafe Lalo – The staff were so friendly it actually creeped us out a bit. I mean, what did they want from us? Lots of fun drink options and a great atmostphere, but we didn’t test the wifi.

Irving Farm Coffee Company – Got an hour to kill? Order a pour over. No wifi (yet), but great coffee and a nice spot to sit in an area that’s otherwise pretty barren coffee-wise.

West Village

Grounded – Insanely busy and non-functioning wifi when we went, but still a fun vibe.

Joe the Art of Coffee – The best Joe we went to, as there are more tables and it’s generally less cramped than their other stores. A good place to read a book, but not use your laptop – that’s still frowned upon.

Think Coffee – Up there with the very best cold brews in town. Recently got wifi, apparently. Free coffee tasting sessions every Thursday.

Vagabond Cafe– On the face of it, a nice quiet room with good wifi where you can always get a table. Somehow managed to offend Mish in myriad ways all the same.

Williamsburg

Blue Bottle Coffee – Standing room only, but only because they’ve only got four chairs. The most ridiculously strong cold brew ever. But they roast their own beans on the premises, so they probably know more about these things than we do.

House of Small Wonder – A fun mishmash of furniture, a patio out the back, and a plague of flies when we went – but that’s probably just a one-off. They’re about to move location so if this review looks strangely inaccurate, that’s why.

The West – OK, so we didn’t try the coffee. But there are loads of tables, a big outdoor area, and it’s laptop-friendly. Just don’t go on a night when there’s a book signing and everyone in there other than you is friends with the author. It gets a bit awkward.

  • Joe

    Great list! If I ever make it to NYC I will study it indepth.

    The lack of free wifi in Bangkok can make it hard to pitch up anywhere and do some work.

    • Yeah we had the same problem in Bangkok…ended up working in our hotel room mostly and just going out for breaks.

      The malls are meant to be good for working, but we never had much luck with the wifi there.

  • Wow, you guys were super busy while you were in NYC – I am trying to decide which ones of these cafes we have to visit while we’re in town, and I am totally overwhelmed 🙂 I guess I’ll start with the five cafes that are best to sit down and work at – thanks so much for your thorough research! It’ll help us over the next couple of months here in NYC.

    • A couple of months? In NYC? Jealousy overload!

      The places with the best coffee and the best places to work don’t seem to overlap much, so it is a question of priorities. Ninth Street Espresso is probably the only one that firmly ticks both boxes.

      Make sure you share your favourites so we can check out some new places next time we go!