By Andrew Buemi
Winter is officially upon us, and with the cold weather, the neighborhood coffee shop becomes a refuge of warmth and comfort. Some of the City’s most storied coffee houses—like Caffe Reggio, the first U.S. cafe to serve an Italian cappuccino (in 1927), or Café ‘Ino, a favorite of Patti Smith—have called the West Village home.
But, like most aspects of this City, the West Village has not been immune to new entrants crowding the market. For coffee lovers, that’s not such a bad thing. Today, the Village has some of the best coffee in the City, in some of the coziest and coolest surroundings. Here are the top coffee shops, old and new, that we recommend trying this winter (in alphabetical order).
56 7th Avenue (near 14th Street)
The Vibe: The chain has locations throughout the City, but its West Village location is an unassuming, snug space that’s better for grabbing and going than hanging around. What the shop may lack in panache it makes up for in a reverence for the craft of coffee cultivation. Birch sources from community-focused farms in Costa Rica and Tanzania—with beans rotating based on the season—and manually roasts in Long Island City.
What to Get: Try the signature Birch Blend, which has hints of raspberries, dark chocolate, and citrus. Don’t miss the selection of massive Dough Donuts, either.
128 Charles Street (near Greenwich Street)
The Vibe: Founded by a Vancouver native, The Elk evokes a stylishly minimalist version of the Pacific Northwest, adorned with the natural wood, exposed white brick, and abundance of succulents that have come to define coffee shop chic in the past several years. The coffee is solid and there’s an interesting array of lifestyle items for sale, like soy-based candles and salt-flecked hair mist.
What to Get: The food menu is quite healthful and worth trying (like avocado toast on Balthazar bread), which, coupled with the décor, likely explains the hordes of baby strollers and Soul Cycle devotees you’re sure to encounter on any given weekend.
28 Jane Street (near West 4th Street)
The Vibe: This West Village mecca, frequented by coffee connoisseurs, bookworms, and transient freelancers alike, will appeal to your inner hippie. Speckled with scattershot furniture, a wall of books, overgrown house plants, and quirky art, seating is plentiful in this space that made a cameo in Comedy Central’s hit show Broad City—but guests tend to ignore the 90-minute seating limit. The baristas can be aloof, if not disengaged, but it’s hard to find any real reason not to rank Grounded among the Village’s best to settle in for a good read and a great brew.
What to Get: Grounded prides itself on being all-organic. From the smoothies to the selection of wraps and sweets, it’s hard to go wrong, but their plain coffee is deliciously strong and they have a unique list of signature drinks, like the Honey Bee Latte and Cafe Aloha.
803 Washington Street (near Horatio Street)
The Vibe: This is a sleek, European-inspired cafe replete with a full food and cocktail menu, in addition to coffee. Kava teeters dangerously close to the edge of the Meatpacking District, which could explain why it seems to be a hit with European tourists.
What to Get: Sip a cup of espresso at the bar, or try the Smoked Salmon Sandwich with brie, avocado, and basil.
428 Hudson Street
(between Morton and Leroy Streets)
The Vibe: One of the newest additions to the Village coffee scene, Merriweather is an Australian outfit inspired by Sydney’s trendy beach cafes, which likely explains more of the aforementioned nude wood, exposed white brick, and succulents (plus a neon Miami Vice-esque sign, which is one of the best parts of this experience). The place is typically packed with stylish youth that could have you thinking you’re in the East Village instead of on Hudson Street.
What to Get: The coffee is Counter Culture, and worth trying. You’ll also find cold-pressed juices and lots of healthy lunch options, naturally.
33 Carmine Street (near Bleecker Street)
The Vibe: This pint-sized coffee shop is popular with locals but never quite seems packed, making it a nice spot to stop in for a morning read. Their beans are roasted by Gotham Coffee Roasters in Red Hook.
What to Get: There are no frills here—just your regular coffee menu and some baked goods. Try an espresso-based drink; the drip coffee is not a leader on this list.
19 8th Avenue
(between Jane and West 12th Streets)
The Vibe: Friendly baristas serve up a basic menu of Stumptown coffee. The space is ideal to grab an espresso at a counter seat or settle into one of the pillowed banquettes along each wall. If you come during peak hours (weekends/mornings), come with sharp elbows—you’ll need to jockey for one of the few tables.
What to Get: Try the doughnuts. Rebel serves a selection from UnderWest, which is based in a car wash in Hell’s Kitchen and is consistently rated among the City’s best.
75 Greenwich Avenue (near 7th Avenue South)
The Vibe: This Detroit-based chain’s Greenwich Avenue location is not super conducive to sitting and staying a while—given a steady flow of tourists and uncomfortable seating arrangements—but its selection of coffee beans is impressive. Choose from an array originating from South America, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean—and watch them hurdle through the “Javabot,” a clear tube system that funnels your beans from across the store and into a roaster.
What to Get: Be adventurous and pick something exotic. You can’t really go wrong, so long as you enjoy very strong coffee.
44 Charles Street (near 7th Avenue South)
The Vibe: This small but handsome shop serves a reliable cup of joe in the form of their Flatiron Espresso Blend. The Brooklyn chain’s West Village location has a basement “Brew Parlor” with public cuppings and private brew lessons.
What to Get: If you’re looking for a departure from coffee, try their Matcha Latte, brought to you by their recent partnership with Matcha Bar.