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New Yorkers take their coffee seriously. Street corners are dominated by Starbucks, and city favorites include Stumptown Coffee, La Colombe, East Village espresso bar Abraço and California import Blue Bottle Coffee. But it’s not just about the coffee, but also the people and atmosphere. Check out ten of our favorite neighborhood coffeeshops in Manhattan below, and share your favorites with us!

1. Birch Coffee5 East 27th St. (Other location at 56th 7th Ave)

birch-coffee-new-york-untapped-gershwin-hotel-library
Located in the Gaudi-esque Gershwin Hotel, Birch Coffee offers an equally quirky atmosphere. Seating by the counter is often packed, but walk into the Gershwin lobby and up some dark stairs until you find The Library. Tucked upstairs in a small loft, the Library offers a respite from the Midtown noise outside with its mismatched couches and chairs. Choose a book left behind by one of your fellow coffee drinkers, or leave one behind for the ones to come. Birch features monthly single-brew coffees and serves local and sustainable food as well, though it’s on the pricey side ($10 + for some sandwiches) for coffeeshop fare. 

2. Caffé Bene1611 Broadway at 49th Street (Other location in Flushing)

Caffe Bene-New York City-Times Square-Untapped Cities-Edward Chan.pngPhoto by Edward Chan Photography

Early last year, we reported on unique cafés in Seoul, Korea, where modernity meets creativity. Caffé Bene is on the mainstream end of Seoul’s offerings but nonetheless represents a dedication to design that is fresh in New York City’s scene. With its natural interior, industrial hanging lights and bookshelves, you might almost forget you’re just next to Times Square. Lots of outlets, good coffee and great waffles–but a little overpriced.

3. Caffe Reggio119 MacDougal St.

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With all the new coffee joints in town, sometimes it’s easy to forget the classics. Caffe Reggio has been a Greenwich Village mainstay since it opened in 1927, and not much seems to have changed since then. The interior transports you to Italy, with its Renaissance artwork, wrought-iron fixtures and even quotes from Dante’s Inferno inscribed on the walls. This is supposedly where cappuccinos were introduced to America. The star decoration is the café’s impressive espresso machine, dating back to 1902. If it’s old-school charm that you want, you’ll get it here.

4. The Chipped Cup3610 Broadway

chipped-cup-coffee-harlem-untappedSource: The Chipped Cup

While cozy coffee houses are no rarity in the East Village or Brooklyn, they’re a bit of a rare find in Harlem. The exposed brick interior is airy and bright with a vintage feel thanks to the repurposed furniture. (One of the tables is made from a Singer sewing machine.) There’s a garden out back, too. Chipped Cup serves Counter Culture Coffee and Kossars bagels.

5. D’Espresso317 Madison Ave

d'espresso-nyc-coffee-shop-untappedSource: The Cool Hunter.

It looks like the world was turned sideways in this Midtown shop, which we think tops the list of coolest interiors of those on this list. The light fixtures protrude from the walls, and the floors and ceiling appear to be lined with books. D’Espresso serves top quality Illy Italian espresso. There’s also a gelato bar and pastries in case a sweets craving hits

6. Ground Support399 W. Broadway

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This café can get really crowded, but the atmosphere is relaxed nonetheless. Take a seat at the bar and watch the speedy baristas serve up your order, or choose one of the wooden tables and benches–reminiscent of picnic tables–on which to sit. When it’s sunny, the doors open out onto a little courtyard where you can hide from the business of Soho. Ground Support brews Intelligentsia Coffee and serves delicious sandwiches for a quick lunch.

7. Housing Works Bookstore Café126 Crosby St. 

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You could spend days in this bookstore browsing the donated titles with breaks for caffeine (they brew Intelligentsia Coffee), baked goods, savories and even alcohol at the on-site café. The entire store is staffed by friendly volunteers, and all profits go to Housing Works, a nonprofit that fights homelessness and AIDS. The bookstore has an upper level with smaller tables to hide from the crowd. The café space is rented out for events. You also get a couple free perks: wi-fi and condoms in a basket by the register (in keeping with Housing Works’ mission, “no glove, no love!”). Housing Works also made our Top 10 Bookstores in Manhattan list.

8. I Am Coffee9 St. Marks Place

i-am-coffee-st-marks-place-nyc-untappedSource: I Am Coffee

This tiny espresso bar just opened last fall, but is quickly becoming a local favorite. The decor looks handmade Italian, and that’s because it is–the small counter and fixtures were shipped from Lombardy, Italy. This is artisanal coffee at its best, with no frills. It’s not a place to park yourself for hours, but there’s standing room to linger over an espresso for a morning or afternoon pick-me-up. Try the Shakerato: ice, espresso and sugar shaken by hand in a martini shaker until it combines into frothy goodness. 

9. Kaffe 1668275 Greenwich St. (Other location at 401 Greenwich St.)

kaffe-1668-coffee-stuffed-sheep-nyc-untappedSource: Smith & Ratliff

This quirky café, opened by two Swedish brothers, might seem a little out of place in TriBeCa, close to the Financial District, but it’s a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The shop’s mascot is the sheep, and its whimsical decor includes stuffed sheep and pictures of sheep on the walls. There’s a large basement that’s almost like a cave, a contrast to the bustling shop above. Along with Intelligentsia Coffee, Kaffe also serves homemade fresh pressed juices–and wine and beer at its 401 Greenwich location. Only 275 Greenwich has wi-fi, which is one of the fastest of Manhattan’s free hotspots

10. Saturdays Surf NYC31 Crosby St. (Other location at 17 Perry St.)

saturdays-surf-nyc-coffee-garden-oasis-untapped

On first glance, it seems as if this Soho shop has an identity crisis, as it sells surf gear, men’s clothes and books along with coffee. But somehow, it all works. The front of the Crosby Street space is devoted to a rack of surfboards and a coffee bar that sells the shop’s signature blend of La Colombe coffee. Clothes and books are displayed in the narrow hallway leading to the shop’s best feature: the airy garden out back where you can chat and sip your brew after some browsing. The crowd is a mix of surfers and artsy people who seem productive even when they’re just hanging out. The garden isn’t a place to be antisocial! There are plush couches or free wi-fi here, but you could spend just as many hours chatting. Cash only. 

Get in touch with the author @catku.

9 Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    I went to D’Espresso today and found that it had been seized by the marshal. Not sure what’s going on, but that was a disappointment.

    On the other hand, Birch just opened a new shop at 134 1/2 East 62nd Street (between Lexington & 3rd).

  2. I’ve seen many creative coffee bars over the years but D’Espresso is one i still have to experience. It’s different than your usual espresso bar which according to my opinion sets it into a category of its own.

  3. Sharon says:

    Hooray for “The Chipped Cup”! It’s not only one of my all time favorite Manhattan coffee shops — but I’m lucky enough to get my morning coffee from those guys daily. If you’re a coffee lover and an even bigger lover of an aesthetically vintage, comfy ambiance with awesome tunes, “The Chipped Cup” is it. Great pastries too — the almond croissant is to die for.

  4. Gayla says:

    All of these coffee shops look so inviting, but I’d really love to visit D’Espresso just to see the interesting interior…and I Am Coffee, to taste a Shakerato :-)

  5. [...] cities recently published an article on The Best Neighborhood Coffee Shops In Manhattan. And guess who made the list, which was also appeared in Business Insider? The Chipped Cup, located [...]

  6. randy says:

    wat could be a better place to spend time with friends or with a book..

  7. [...] Ku listed 10 coffee shops in Manhattan that features very good design. Let us see if your favorite is on the [...]

  8. Michele says:

    I love to go to Cafe Reggio because a scene in Shaft (1971) was filmed there. I always try to sit at the same table he was sitting at. Incredibly, the same table, coat rack and bench are still there over 40 years later.

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