Coffee Shops

Postcrypt Coffeehouse

The entrance to Postcrypt Coffeehouse, in the basement of St. Paul’s Church

St. Paul’s Chapel of Columbia University is home to one of Morningside Heights’ most unique places to get your caffeine fix. Hidden away in the chapel’s basement is the Postcrypt Coffeehouse, a music venue that has been “folkin’ around since 1964,” according to its website. It features a variety of up-and-coming folk and acoustic acts. The season has ended for the summer, but come fall, Postcrypt will host acoustic acts every Friday and Saturday as well as a monthly open mic night.

The Hungarian Pastry Shop

If you’re someone who can’t start (or finish) your day without a cup of coffee, then the Hungarian Pastry Shop is the place to be. Located on 111th street and Amsterdam Avenue, across from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, this small, dimly lit cafe is a common haunt for university students, locals, and tourists. Since 1951, it has been a favorite location for avid readers and writers, and its walls are plastered with the covers of books that were completed at least in part at one of its small wooden tables.

In addition, its unlimited coffee refills make it a prime destination to buckle down and complete long projects and readings, and its lack of wifi makes the whole place feel like it doesn’t subscribe to a fast-paced idea of time like the rest of the world. Stepping inside feels like slipping into the past, perhaps sailing across the ocean to a movie-scene version of Europe. The abstract art on the walls—mostly blurred faces drawn in black ink—is strangely compelling, and the stained-glass windows and hand-painted menus give the place a homey feeling.

One of the best parts of the Hungarian Pastry Shop is its bathroom. Repainted in the spring of 2017, the walls have already been covered with drawings, quotes, political statements, and emotional confessions.

For more information, read The Top 10 Secrets of NYC’s Morningside Park and The Top 15 Secrets of Columbia University in NYC