Where to get caffeinated in NYC
"Let's meet for coffee." This is a phrase I've heard many times over the past year. Whether a meeting meeting or a friend catch up, or even a date, the question is always the same: Where to go? I love trying new coffee/tea spots and lucky for me, NYC is chock full of them. I love how each has its own vibe, from the decor and offerings to the clientele. Some fit so perfectly with the character of their neighborhood while others transport you or make you wonder how they survive in X area when they have a much more Y feel to them. In no particular order, here are my favorite NYC coffee shops.
Blank Slate has it all, food, coffee, tea, pastries, beer, wine, and a little "to-go" market with artisanal offerings which makes it ideal for everything from work meetings, catching up with friends, or a spot to meet someone when you don't know them, or what they're into, super well. The space is perfectly Instagrammable without feeling in any way pretentious or like you have to be a member of the cool kids club to be there. I adore their turquoise color scheme and way they define themselves: "The possibility of everything." What could be better.
I have to admit two things, first the word "fika" is Swedish and became one of my favorite words and concepts when I studied abroad in Stockholm, and two, there is a Fika in my building so Fika has the ultimate head start in the game of Leah's preferred NYC coffee shops. Still, each Fika I go to, no matter how small, maintains the same light, airy ambience, has murals of Stockholm on its walls (I yearn...), and they are often running some fun promos. As a tea drinker, I really like the brand of teas (Serendipitea for regular teas and Panatēa for matcha) that they carry. Weirdly, though I am there almost every day, I have yet to try any of their award-winning chocolates (I'm a baked goods girl). I once got a chocolate chip cookie but I wasn't a huge fan. Their other pastries look very good but I'm always afraid that their version of kanelbulle (cinnamon buns) or semla will never live up to what I had in Sweden and I'll just be disappointed. Fika is perfect for a all occasions, you can even work there as they have free wifi although some (maybe all?) locations require that you log back in after an hour.
Details: Multiple locations, Hours may vary; fikanyc.com
Maman (Tribeca & SoHo)
In the past year, I think I have seen Maman featured in more social media posts and blogs than any other coffee shop and for good reason, in a word, Maman is charming. I have only been to their Tribeca and Soho locations so will just speak to them. Walking into Maman is like walking into a story book; everything is beautiful. Seriously. They have scrumptious pastries and beautiful nooks and tables to sit at. No matter what you've ordered or the time of day, going to Maman feels special and I leave feeling more like I've been in a massage than at coffee. Maman is perfect for treating yourself, spending time with a friend, or showing off some of NYC's best to a family member/out of town visitor.
L to R: (1) Those are the to-go cups. Like I said, everything is beautiful. (2) The only thing I can't get behind is the nuts in these cookies. (3) Interior of the Tribeca location. If you ever can't find me, try looking here (or Anthropologie). All photos IG: @_mamannyc_
Details: Multiple locations; Hours, service, and menu options vary; mamannyc.com
Irving Farm has multiple locations around NYC, and two in Millerton, NY (TBH I have no idea where that is). I've been to the Grand Central, Upper West Side, Upper East Side, and Gramercy locations. Each location that I've been to has such a different feel and fits so perfectly with its respective neighborhood (in the case of Grand Central its a kiosk like the other coffee kiosks). All three of the traditional brick and mortar Irving's that I've been to can get very crowded but I have always managed to find a table or piece together chairs not in use at other tables. Despite the louder volume and more frenetic pace due to crowds, I really like Irving Farm and it is one of the first places I'll suggest if the person I'm meeting is near one of the locations I've been to. They have a wide-ranging menu (with some really yummy sandwiches), a full pastry selection (brought in from outside vendors), and their coffee is my mom's favorite. When you go to Irving, you feel like you're doing something good for the world. The company is very focused on their sources and sustainability which comes through. They also offer classes in all things coffee and barista at their Loft location. I've never been but they sound like they could be fun if you're a coffee fan. Irving Farm is perfect for just about any occasion from a meeting, to catching up with a friend, to a first date, or even conducting alumni interviews; the only thing I have never done there is go solo, with the exception of the Grand Central kiosk.
Details: Multiple locations; Hours and menu vary; irvingfarm.com
Pushcart Coffee (Peter's Field location)
Since I've only been to the Peter's Field location of Pushcart, this is solely about that outpost. Pushcart can fill up during the day, even at "off-peak" times as it markets itself as "a platform for entrepreneurs - a gathering place for the community." In other words, there is free wifi and they are happy for you to sit and work there all day. The result is a coffee shop that really does feel like a welcoming, collaborative space. There are also fun touches, my favorite being the two tip jars where you "vote" for a rotating question; my favorite was "Will Ferrell or Pharrell Williams?" I'm going to make a bold statement here and say that Pushcart makes what might just be my favorite chocolate chip cookie in all of NYC. (Funny how this is about coffee shops and yet this is appearance number 2 for choc chippers #sorrynotsorry.) Pushcart is perfect for a solo work session or a more informal work meeting.
L to R: (1) I just couldn't decide. (2) Do you see that chocolate oozing out? Do you?! (PC: Pushcart Coffee)
Details: Peter's Field Location: 362 Second Ave. (@21st Street); Mon-Sun 7am-7pm (other locations may vary); pushcartcoffee.com
Cafe Grumpy (Chelsea location)
Cafe Grumpy aka Grumpy/Grumpy's is anything but, unless you try to use a laptop; there is a strictly enforced "No Laptops," rule at least in Chelsea (I've never been to any others). Although Grumpy can get crowded on weekend afternoons, that is also part of what makes it charming. Let me explain. Because there are no laptops allowed, people come to Grumpy and sit with a book or the paper and just enjoy themselves, particularly at the high tops in the front. It's the kind of place where no one bothers you and you can really get absorbed in your own world, whether that be solo or with a small group. I have heard they have great coffee but (obviously) I can't vouch for this. Because at Grumpy the vibe is very much, we're all here to do our own thing, in addition to being a great place to meet friends, I find it really conducive to meetings, getting together with someone you don't know super well, and even first dates as you don't feel like anyone around you is listening in and thus sensitive info or awkward moments are only known to you and your companion(s).